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MIS Systems Thread, MIS Systems Organisation in Technical; Hi All I have recently started a new job looking after the ICT and MIS systems within a school. We ...
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    MIS Systems Organisation

    Hi All

    I have recently started a new job looking after the ICT and MIS systems within a school. We currently do not have a dedicated MIS member of staff. At present things are particularly messy as the person in my post prior, built many bespoke systems for registration, after school activities, sanctions, etc.

    The school is currently using engage or double first as its MIS system. I wondered wether some of you could give me some feeback on how your school tackles MIS:

    • Do you have a dedicated MIS member of staff?
    • Do you use bespoke systems?
    • Who is first line support on MIS issues?
    • Any other info you may suggest to help me resolve this mess!!


    Thanks

    Skeep

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Yes!
    Me!
    Me!
    And I ain't the technical bod before you ask.
    We use SIMS! And very good it is too!

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    Whatever system you have the use of the MIS must be backed by the senior leadership team; if it isn't the result will be a piecemeal implementation that does not provide the added value that an MIS can bring to a school.

    Even with the best technical support possible a system will fail if the SLT doesn't know what can be achieved. Work on the MIS has to be shared across the admin and teaching staff the days of having just one person that knows it all have well and truly gone - the systems are just too big.

    On the assessment side a curriculum leader has to create a structure that supports the objectives of the school. Teachers will benefit from that central approach, particularly at reporting times. If you are using the system to record achievement work needs to be done to ensure that there is a consistent approach in all sections of the school.

    There are some very specialised jobs such as timetabling, fees, exam entries etc you should ensure that these roles are not handled by one person or you will face a crisis when that person leaves.

    Basically the more people that use the system the more the pay back and the lower the risks are when people move on.

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    Nope - it's shared. I keep a general eye on things, handle Bizarro Troubleshooting and cat herding. Responsibilities for timetabling, assessments, exams etc are split up among different people.
    Nope
    Depends on the actual issue*, but usually me.

    Document everything, get support from SMT. If you decide to change, realise it'll cost up to 30K and try before you buy. Talk to end-users - the smallest changes to accomodate them can have the biggest improvements in uptake / happiness with the system.

    *I'll deflect timetabling questions to the timetabler, for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skeep View Post
    • Do you have a dedicated MIS member of staff?
    • Do you use bespoke systems?
    • Who is first line support on MIS issues?
    • Any other info you may suggest to help me resolve this mess!!
    We use SIMS .Net from Capita:


    1. Yes it's me, but used to be a former teacher and wasn't a specialist with SIMS nor IT and so things were a little messy, but usage wasn't very widespread across school or across different modules in the system. I know co-ordinate the system from updating, training, rolling out new modules etc, but many other people handle certain tasks, e.g. timetabling, reporting, personnel, cover, admissions, attendance etc.

    2. We have some bespoke systems, but most things are centralised to SIMS now. I have a few of my own useful tools, scripts etc to fill gaps and make processes quicker within SIMS to save time and/or make things easier.

    3. Initially for a specific issue e.g. timetable is wrong it's the timetabler, i.e. the most relevant person, but for general issues, i am 1st line support, and i'm 1st line for all the key users as well. If it needs taking further i do the troubleshooting and research via SupportNet, here on EduGeek or calling Capita direct.

    4. Don't be keen to change too many things at once, sit back and firefight for a while, see how the systems are used, and then you can start to look at changes you can make, centralisation etc. If your MIS can do all the tasks then consider that. Consider a change of MIS but bear in mind that it is a mammoth task, it could be easier to just lose some of the bespoke systems in favour of Engage/Double First initially and see how things go. Take your time, and get Senior Managers on board with your ideas and thoughts as soon as possible. Also talk to the end users as you might find once you get past the initial 'nothing works' they may have some constructive criticism that could guide you.

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    Thanks all for your replys,

    The situation is daunting to someone who has only ever been an ICT Support Manager, however, I am starting to get my head around all that is required. One thing I did not ask is are you all dedicated MIS staff or do you have other roles? What is your jiob title within the school?

    The head at the school wants to employ a dedicated member of MIS staff under myself as soon as possible. However, I am not sure that that is the correct direction. I much prefer to spilt the role amongst many staff, simply to move away from the MIS GOD philosophy.

    I'm going to start writing a proposal for my vision of MIS within the school so hopefully this will allow me to gain a better understanding of what I am taking on!!

    Many Thanks

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    Just to add my 2-penneth worth: I am actually working on the learning platform so nothing to do with MIS system whatsoever. However, since the 2 systems are interlinked (usernames for LP are created based on MIS data) obviously MIS data has to be correct.

    So who do I go to see about it EErrrr, noone since noone is overall responsible for sims. Therefore you might have multiple people inputting data in with no error correction and no comeback.

    OK, I'm seeing things from my perspective but it WOULD have been nice to just go and ask 1 person - what's so&so's address, does this student really live with 5 different people etc. As it is, I've been ploughing through the database for the past 6 weeks and it's still not quite correct(and that's only the minimum records I need to get right to issue all parents with logos to the LP!).

    I think by all means have different people inputting things into your sims but have one overall person in charge who understands it properly and can error correct it. We are going through the bsf process and THE person who understands it best is no longer allowed to help with it, as he's employed to fix things not to asnwer how-to questions!

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    I wont comment on the MIS-God complex apparent in some.

    I'm SIMS Co-ordinator/Manager and manage the Intranet too as the old encumbent of my post did that as well. Luckily it fits in well with our move to sharepoint and learning gateway as they are linked and i want to play around with sharepoint.

    I would say it is a good idea to have someone to co-ordinate the MIS, for sure, have many staff doing little parts in different areas, but it needs someone to oversee everything, work on new areas, troubleshoot problems and generally take in the bigger picture. I still quite often get stuck doing nitty gritty data processing and it holds us back, because it means i don't have the time to experiment with new modules or look at ways the staff can work more efficiently with data.

    Get someone as a co-ordinator, but get the management on board with that, you need someone high up to encourage and drive the use of the MIS and also support any radical changes that may come about as a result of the work you do. Also, i'd consider a part-time data processor if the environment and work load needs it, so that the co-ordinator is free to manage.

    I'll give an example, i recently spent ages, tidying up our parental contact information so it would import correctly into Schoolcomms which we use to text / email parents in emergencies. Once i'd solved the issue as to why there were errors and what we needed to do to correct that, i should have been able to pass that task on to someone else to process while i move on to the next problem.

    Our Upper School secretary historically reports staff absence to the finance department on a monthly basis, from a book that she writes it all in. We now use SIMS for timetabling, cover and publishing the cover on the intranet. I wrote a report that extracts the absence info required by finance, effectively making that particular task for the secretary obsolete, but despite constantly claiming they are too busy in that office and have no time, they were clinging on to this task as though their jobs depended on it! Without management support, that was turning quickly into a silly situation and a big waste of time arguing about the issue.
    Last edited by vikpaw; 25th January 2010 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Expanding acronym.

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    Whatever MIS you use (we use SIMS) it is vital that you have an MIS Manager who understands all aspects of the system.

    I am the Curriculum and Administration Services Manager at our School (wot's in a title eh!?). I tried Teaching for a while (29 Years actually) and eventually found myself in the position of holding several key roles - Timetabler, Exams Officer, Cover Manager - and teaching science very badly as a result of never being in the classroom in the Summer Term. I was given the opportunity of taking early retirement from teaching and moving into admin full time. I became the SIMS Manager - with just a couple of staff including the Finance Officer to help me run SIMS! In the twelve years since I have the chance to develop SIMS to virtually it's full capacity having introduced LM6, AM6 and Profiles6 into the school - all of which are now running successfully in Version 7. I also introduced the Behaviour and Achievement Monitoring, when it first became available, and this has since been developed greatly as the functionality has increased. Our most recent innovation has obviously been the introduction of both SLG and Schoolcomms, in Autumn 2008.

    I thus have an overall knowledge of all aspects of SIMS. I am still the Timetabler, System Manager, and am responsible for the Pupil Curriculum and SLG, but we now have a Team of people running most of the rest of the different sections of SIMS and for most of whom I am the Line Manager. We have dedicated roles such as Attendance Officer, Pupil Data Manager, Assessment Data Manager, Exams Officer, Cover Manager, Personnel Officer, Finance Manager, etc. Staff i/c of these roles can also fill in for one or more of the other positions in emergencies and I can drop into any of the roles if needed (I am currently standing in for Exams Officer and Cover Manager due to illness to staff). The one thing I do not do is handle the technical side of the system in terms of networks etc. (though I do normally run the Upgrades/Patches and liaise with Capita Support if there are SIMS software issuess).

    I spend a significant period of time in attending Capita Software Development Meetings, UAT Sessions and other SIMS related meetings, to keep up-to-date with new innovations in SIMS.

    Unless there is somebody within the school that has this sort of overall knowledge and has a dedicated team to handle the day to day working of the system then there is a great danger that the school will not make the best use of it's management system. When I started contributing to these forums it was obvious that a few of the contributors did not really understand the full working of SIMS. A good many posts did blame the SIMS Software when it was obvious to me that it was a lack of knowledge of the systems on the part of the users that was the real issue. I like to think I have done a little to re-dress that issue.
    Last edited by Sivadam; 25th January 2010 at 10:18 PM.

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