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MIS Systems Thread, Which one to go for? in Technical; Which one to go for?...
  1. #1
    binky's Avatar
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    Which one to go for?

    Which one to go for?

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Re: Which one to go for?

    SIMS or CMIS are the two main choices ... and it doesn't matter which one you go for. It will not do what you want ... break we you really need it and then cost too much to train people ...

    or, if I am not feeling cynical, I would say to go for whatever fits you needs most ...

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Eeek! Prepare for many and various responses. I'll just stick by our MIS sponsor and say click on their link to see their product.

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    I stick with GrumbleDook's opinon. None of these systems do what you want them to, nor do they work as the wonderful sales team suggested.

    Three years down the line, just as your getting yours working properley after 3 years of crap - you'll get this from a newly appointed member of your SLT:

    "When I was at XYZ School, we used <other system> and it was great. We should move to <other system> here."

    Killing is justifable in some circumstances, I guess. :twisted:

    Kyle

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Well, we've had SiMS and CMiS and they both have their problems. We use CMiS now and i must admit i prefer that. Its easier to upgrade but not without its problems(especially the latest one)

    Try and visit a school or two and See both in action, go prepared with a handful of questions and see what you thin yourself?

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Quote Originally Posted by kylewilliamson
    Three years down the line, just as your getting yours working properley after 3 years of crap - you'll get this from a newly appointed member of your SLT:

    "When I was at XYZ School, we used <other system> and it was great. We should move to <other system> here."

    Killing is justifable in some circumstances, I guess. :twisted:

    Kyle
    This phase normally happens a sort time before they ring you up to ask where they 'any' key is.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Or whilst you are on holiday they persuade your PFY (on threat of P45) to give them admin access to stuff ... and the monday you come back in you are greeted with .. "How easy is it to get back the timetable ... and all the reports data ... and staff details ... and parent details ... erm ... and student details?"

    I know 3 schools that this has happened at ... and I now encourage the belief that a choice between doing something that annoys me and doing something that earns your P45 ... take the P45 ... you do not want to annoy me that much.

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    ... and I now encourage the belief that a choice between doing something that annoys me and doing something that earns your P45 ... take the P45 ... you do not want to annoy me that much.
    Wasn't there a discussion thread somewhere else which mentioned ICT managers being megalomaniacs?

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    GrumbleDook: I take it this is one of your "cynical" views about another 2 software bodies forcing out crap i.e Capita and Serco, yesterday you were all in favour of these BSFs and huge corporations not being a bad thing and yet you talk unfavourably about others, you confuse me sometimes GrumbleDook as to your views which may i might add i have nothing against, as they are your views but consistency springs to mind here. Do not take this the wrong way as it is only an observation you understand. Oh and in keeping with the thread i find SIMS a little better than CMIS only on the upgrades though.

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    THis is not cynicism about Capita or Serco ... just cynicism at all MIS and how they are used in schools.

    It does not matter what you use as long as you know what you want ... this is one of the few areas that the needs of the school vary so much from institute to institute that it is difficult to get things right.

    It was also a statement of irony ... perhaps a bit too obsure really ...

    All MIS are generic, and the school has to learn to adapt to fit in with it. This is evident when timetabling, how you record and analyse data, how you produce reports ... the saving grace is that they are now working on common standards for data returns, admissions, exams ...

    I am not slagging off either Capita or Serco ... just the methods of how schools implement things in house ...

    Quite often they will be used for the wrong thing, or the school is not flexible enough to fit in with how a particular MIS works ... or the MIS is not flexible enough to fit round how a school works.

    Companies will always have sporadic preiods of producing good code and abysmal code ... and this has to be planned for. All companies do it ... Capita, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, MIT ... but how schools deal with this varies.

    Traditionally MIS are seen as 'Admin' and so we only get to hear the screams of "It's broken again" without being able to plan ahead to ensure that it is only broken because a 'feature' has been used to do something and when the 'feature' (aka bug) has been fixed the staff have to do something differently.

    If you are making a choice between MIS you must first list all data you need to use, who will control what areas, what their ICT abilities are, what training you will need to ensure robustness of data entry / data use, plan for overlaps of skills so that no single person is relied on to perform certain tasks.

    Consider the main areas of use ...
    Student information - personal details, parental details, historical educational information, agencies, medical / SEN
    Assessment - recording of data based on progress , exam entry, exam results.
    Data - analysis of information stored, be it assessment data, behavioural, personal.
    Other - this is a wide range ... but usually falls into communication for most stuff ... firstly there is behavioural information that is record and then diseminated to staff / parents / agencies, then there are the reports that go out to parents, and not forgetting data returns to county / DfES

    Have a look at how each of these are done in your schools and see how each MIS will deal with it ... work out which system best fits the above for your school.

    Then consider who will administer, maintain and support each area, look at the technology behind it to see how robust or futere-proofed it is. Look at the rate of development ... sometimes you will see that a particular MIS has few bugs or problems ... but also has few new features ... partly down to lack of development. Speak with the companies about support ... talk with your LA about how you will get support for your MIS ... and finally, think carefully about the migration implications about moving from your present MIS ...

    This is key ... having been at a school moving from SIMS to CMIS ... and then moved from SIMS to SIMS.net at this school (which is a migration ... just a damn long one) you need to think about timescales ... training ... job roles ... contingencies ... the usual migration stuff.

    Sometimes the gains are not worth the trouble of the migration ... and this is a fine line.

    Personally I go for Capita. I find their support is better, I have access to a really positive support team at the LA (ok .. they are officially a Capita company now .. be we still talk about them as 'County Support') and I do dip in and out ot the Capita Forums too ... The migration to SIMS.net is ongoing as each module goes online properly ... and I have allocated another 2 years to finish the migration. There is then a 2 year period to see if it is fulfilling all our needs, the second of which will include comparisons with other MIS. At the end of this 4 year period we will then decide whether SIMS.net is the correct solution, and if not then we will start a migration plan to a different MIS over one year ... and then go through a 5 year cycle again (3 years using, one year comparisons, one year migration if required)

    I hope this fleshes things out a bit more and I apologise if I cam across a little inconsistant ... it might have something to do with the fact that all I am doing at the moment is working on SIMS ... getting our reporting system sorted ... after repeated changes ... at last minute ... again a sign of implementation rather than the MIS itself.

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    IMHO the problem with all MIS is the transfer of data in the desired form to DFES. All the companies involved in coding these applications design them to comply with DFES requirements. All well and good, but the DFES constantly changes the way it wants data laid out and there is a constant stream of updates to comply with this. Many of these changes are last minute and there is no time to fully test updates before release, so we get further updates to fix the problems created by the last update.

    This is not the fault of the companies involved but the result of yet more tinkering and a lack of understanding by a government department involved in an IT project. Now where have I heard that before???

    BTW I too have found the support from Capita to be really good nowadays.

  12. #12

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Does your LEA recommend and support any particular MIS?

    Ben

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    GrumbleDook: A good explaination and very apt and certainly not obscure by any stretch of the imagination.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Personally I go for Capita
    Why did you not just say that?

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    I have found Sims to be nothing but trouble due to the client-server nature of the software. CMIS and Bromcom both work on a web front-end hooked directly into the database on the server which, in my experience, causes less problems.

    Just my two cents.

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    Re: Which one to go for?

    Quote Originally Posted by bossman
    GrumbleDook: A good explaination and very apt and certainly not obscure by any stretch of the imagination.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Personally I go for Capita
    Why did you not just say that?
    Because both statements are very true ... the long explaination as well as the short ironic "it doesn't matter ... you will hate it anyway" view ...

    Still ... it could be worse ... you could be expected to pick up a bespoke system just after the developer left ... and took all documentation with him (what little there was!)

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