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MIS Systems Thread, School MIS Systems in Technical; I am new to Education as a Data Manager but have spent about 25 years in the IT industry as ...
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    School MIS Systems

    I am new to Education as a Data Manager but have spent about 25 years in the IT industry as either a Software Developer or Information Analyst. My background has covered Systems Integration and Software Design for the Retail, Automotive, Insurance and Healthcare sectors (NHS).

    My point - I am utterly appalled at the atrocious standard of Computer Software, Data Management & Processing techniques used in School MIS Systems.

    We use Integris Classic which currently supports ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) access but the plan is to move our School over to the new Integris G2 system which doesn't support ODBC.

    Did I miss something?.....A new system with reduced data access....No ODBC (a worldwide recognised industry standard)

    Hold on a minute....I’m a Data Manager (or Data Consumer) how can I engage with my data and create reports?

    How ridiculous - organisations in just about every other sector (for example the NHS who have immense targets to meet and report) develop their reporting systems using SQL Server, ODBC and Microsoft Access Databases - in other words they use proper relational database management systems (RDBMS) technology instead of these dysfunctional Assessment Worksheets/Markbooks.

    Why not borrow good ideas from one of the world’s largest organisations!!!

    I hear you say: “But I don’t know anything about SQL or databases?”
    I reply: “Why are you a Data Manager then?”

    Question: Why are there so many people employed in Local Education Authorities (who know nothing about Software, Data Management or Data Processing Techniques) and deciding which MIS systems to deploy in their local Schools?

    Hold on a minute - DATA and DATABASE (I get it -- word association). That's right you got it!! DATA is best stored in a proper relational DATABASE - In other words the most suitable tool for the job.

    If you think about it - recording an array of subjects holding A-G type grade against a student record is not exactly rocket science – so why all the problems?

    Come on people it’s now 2010 – we have mobile communications, high capacity hard drives and memory, fibre optics, Laser printers and Bluetooth – so can’t we have a School MIS System which does the bread and butter?

    I hear nothing but complaints about Integris.... but not to single it out – I also understand that all its competitors have weaknesses.

    My challenge to you – give me 18 months, a small budget a couple of software developers and I’ll produce a School MIS Systems to knock the rest into touch at less than half the cost.

    From what I've seen so far you'd be better of with a Patient Administration System
    Students= Patients
    Teachers = Consultants
    Subjects = Specialties
    Last edited by MShakeshaft; 11th January 2010 at 02:48 PM.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Now that would be interesting to see!
    All based on experience of just ONE MIS too!

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post
    My challenge to you – give me 18 months, a small budget a couple of good software developers and I’ll produce a School MIS Systems to knock the rest into touch at less than half the cost.
    Er, go on then!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post

    My challenge to you – give me 18 months, a small budget a couple of good software developers and I’ll produce a School MIS Systems to knock the rest into touch at less than half the cost.
    But by the time you have coded it, the Government will have moved the goal posts and be demanding data that your system hasn't catered for. They will move these goal posts about a month before a Census is due.

    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post

    Question: Why are there so many people in employed Local Education Authorities (who know nothing about Software, Data Management or Data Processing Techniques) deciding which MIS systems to deploy in their Schools?
    Why are there so many people employed in Local Education Authorities who know nothing about anything?

    Welcome to the forum and good luck if you decide to create your own. A bit more competition to knock down prices and kick others up the backside would be welcome.

  5. Thanks to AyatollahPies from:

    MShakeshaft (11th January 2010)

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    I can understand your frustration, but isn't that just the way the world works? No system is perfect, and what is perfection anyway? A system that seems fantastic to me might seem awful to you.

    If you are in a position to create a new system, by all means go ahead, it couldn't hurt! Otherwise, do what the rest of us do and make use of the tools you have, with your background I'm sure a little creative programming could go a long way to bridging some of the shortcomings you're hating about Integris.

    I've never used Integris, only SMIS, and I've only been in this role for a few months myself. Yeah I get annoyed at the lack of features that I could really do with, but these systems have to be used by such a wide range of people at every technical level (I know certain people who wouldn't know where to start installing a program but are expected to enter data in to Sims) that certain compromises will have to be made along the way, as a developer yourself surely you can see that?

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    LMFAO

    I love it when people think they can create a better MIS than the school have.

    I have to admit that as a Capita customer I have many issue with the way the software works, however does it work and allow us to do what we need to do? yes
    I have looked at the others in the market and they all promise the world but in my experience are contrained by the same problems.

    A small company may be able to write something new but will they be any better at dealing with the DCFS than any of the others? I doubt it.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post
    Question: Why are there so many people employed in Local Education Authorities (who know nothing about Software, Data Management or Data Processing Techniques) and deciding which MIS systems to deploy in their local Schools?
    There's a very simple answer to this one: with the use of systems such as Sims, the truth is that a great knowledge of software and data management technique is simply not essential to get the job done, the system pretty much walks you through all of the essential tasks you need to do, anybody with a decent grasp on using a PC could get the essential tasks done (i.e. the tasks that keep the boss off your back), a good data manager should go above and beyond this though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshJohnson View Post
    There's a very simple answer to this one: with the use of systems such as Sims, the truth is that a great knowledge of software and data management technique is simply not essential to get the job done, the system pretty much walks you through all of the essential tasks you need to do, anybody with a decent grasp on using a PC could get the essential tasks done (i.e. the tasks that keep the boss off your back), a good data manager should go above and beyond this though.
    Whilst that's true, the ones that don't have a data-based ('scuse the pun) background invariably end up in Really Big Trouble™ at some stage.

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    Whilst that's true, the ones that don't have a data-based ('scuse the pun) background invariably end up in Really Big Trouble™ at some stage.
    At which point they phone the nice people at their local SMIS/Integris/Generic MIS System support to dig them out. Having worked for a local authority for a few years now in various roles, it's quite clear that the number of staff on roll and the number of staff actually doing the work is about a 5:1 ratio.

    I'd love our local SMIS support team to have a month off, just to see who's worth their salt...

    EDIT: Not that I haven't called them enough times myself I might add, but I reckon I'd have figured it out for myself if I'd had to...
    Last edited by LosOjos; 11th January 2010 at 03:27 PM.

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    Even though these MIS systems allow you to 'do the job' in terms of storing data the reports are limited to say the least. There's no real analysis of the data and too much time is wasted on moving data around instead of using it to meet targets and drive up school performance - this is where I am really coming from.

    My experience is that people use data in different ways - therefore give them proper access to it and enable them to use the data to drive up performance and identify areas of concern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post
    Even though these MIS systems allow you to 'do the job' in terms of storing data the reports are limited to say the least. There's no real analysis of the data and too much time is wasted on moving data around instead of using it to meet targets and drive up school performance - this is where I am really coming from.

    My experience is that people use data in different ways - therefore give them proper access to it and enable them to use the data to drive up performance and identify areas of concern.
    I see where you're coming from because I can't get on with the reporting system in Sims either, far too basic for my needs.

    The solution I chose: create a set of generic reports that contain all the data I need, pull them in to Access and report to my hearts content. With a couple of weeks work, this is all automated now, start up Access, run the update routine to pull data from Sims and do what I like with it.

    Not the hardest thing in the world to do

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshJohnson View Post
    I can understand your frustration, but isn't that just the way the world works?
    It just seems to be the way the United Kingdom works - how can the country that developed the world's 1st computer, 1st nuclear power station, the transputer, pioneered heart transplants and the Jet Engine come up with Integris?

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MShakeshaft View Post
    It just seems to be the way the United Kingdom works - how can the country that developed the world's 1st computer, 1st nuclear power station, the transputer, pioneered heart transplants and the Jet Engine come up with Integris?
    Well if you add the Teletubbies, Sinclear C5 and Austin Allegro to that list you may have answered you're own question

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    Do you really think it would make great business sense for MIS suppliers to give you "open access" to all your data?

    Take CMIS, anyone know of a way to import data back into its DB through Facility ; )

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshJohnson View Post
    The solution I chose: create a set of generic reports that contain all the data I need, pull them in to Access and report to my hearts content. With a couple of weeks work, this is all automated now, start up Access, run the update routine to pull data from Sims and do what I like with it.
    Fantastic.....

    I am already on this path but and have fully automated some reports - for example KS3 and KS4 reporting with view to incorporating the Analysis, Distribution, Target Setting, Self Evaluation and Examination results.

    I am also working on building larger datasets and record complexes to contain all the data I will ever need - similar to a data warehouse with derived fields for quicker reporting and identification of interest groups.

    Have also created a dashboard with dials and bar charts to monitor school attendance.

    I want to go further and create by own data capture forms with protected fields so that FFT data is not overwritten (like on our recent Target Setting day).

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