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MIS Systems Thread, MIS installation - too much to expect? in Technical; So are they selling a product that doesn't function unless the school pays no regard to their DP obligations? If ...
  1. #16


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    So are they selling a product that doesn't function unless the school pays no regard to their DP obligations?

    If I wanted the product to work, I'd be looking at Procmon from sysinternals (Process Monitor).

    If my first sentence is an accurate assessment of the product, state of the vendor install and isn't fixable (or isn't supported in the fixed state), I'd be asking for money back based on it not being fit for purpose. I'd also be talking to the LA for legal advice.

    I hope you haven't paid yet.

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    The less you pay for software the better programmed it is.

    Hey, at least it's not a system to control a nuclear power plant with a hard coded password

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    Means they actually listern to what Microsoft recommends and actually do it.
    [Missed this - being an MS partner apparently means that - Ed.]

    But it doesn't - I made a company I once worked for one of those and it didn't guarantee anything much, besides the company being in a certain line of business having a couple of folk with some MS qualifications. We basically went for that status because out in the real-world MS licences cost significant money and they gave you lots of those you could use to kit out training rooms, a set of developers and so on - IIRC it added up to around £40K's worth of which £30Ks worth we could actually use in the permitted manner.

    The less you pay for software the better programmed it is.
    Possibly.. cost is usually inversely proportional to the volume you can sell, so it's the more specialised, custom type stuff that tends to be expensive (and also gets less exposure to people who might finds bugs, protest at security idiocies, insist on conventional deployment methods etc.).
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 5th August 2010 at 11:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ianh64 View Post
    So, what alternatives are there to Double First/Hebron/DuPre/Engage (all same company/Product)? Major issues with accounts and payroll, but Engage MIS system also causing problems without relaxing permissions and that is their latest and greatest system.
    It sounds like you're an independent school. Have you looked at WCBS PASS? We've been using it for billing & payroll for many years and are this summer starting to use it for the rest of the school.

    It's by no means perfect (no MIS is) and the non-web parts of it are also coded in Delphi, but it's certainly not as bad as you've made this one sound!

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    In your first post I was thinking "hmm, sounds somewhat like SIMS and FMS to me" as that also suffers from quite a few "full access needs to be given to X folders" issues and you also need to install the BDE.

    Engage suggests that you're from an Independent school so I'd recommend looking at Isams and maybe the Bromcom MIS too as they're both browser based MIS solutions.

  6. #21

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    I had try to provide an update to this a week ago but had 'technical difficulties' and lost the reply prior to posting and did not have the will to retype it. So, with an update...

    We have a 'Plan B' in place in case things do not work out. Seems like the bursar already had a few contingency ideas albeit with unrealistic time scales...

    All my kicking and screaming is actually getting some results. Hebron/DoubleFirst/DuPre seems to acknowledge that my points are valid and have upped the game in trying to get a favourable solution. I am a realist and realise that whilst they will not rewrite their software, they have to do something even if it is to test their system in a modern environment and have workable solutions for any issues. Thankfully, someone thought that it may be useful to put me through to someone who could talk the same language as me, rather than getting me to talk to an ex teacher turned IT support/trainer who knows diddly about anything technical except for following a set of instructions.

    A call was arranged between myself and a developer to talk through the issues that I was facing. This was very productive although did not resolve any of the bigger issues. Very quickly it became clear that, 1 - much of the Hebron system dates back to the late 90's when dbase and paradox ruled the waves and as such, there remain technical issues which relate to still doing it the delphi/dbase/paradox way. 2 - the use of 'Full Control' is much confused within DoubleFirst development and support staff. It transpires that when DoubleFirst mean full control, they actually mean modify rights and not full control. The development staff clearly know the difference, but even to me called modify rights 'full control' until I got him to clarify this. This unfortunately seems to be why DoubleFirst implementation and support staff put full control on things rather than restricting slightly to modify. They really should be putting modify/change rights on share and folder protection. Well on most. A couple of folders still need genuine 'full control' because thats what the Paradox libraries expect. So, we have made progress. Also discussed was the use of 'everyone' or 'user'. As I had audited the shares and folders, we were able to remove 'everyone' and 'user' and replace them with two security groups, one for engage (teaching staff) and the other for accounts access (bursar). So now I feel a lot happier, but not totally satisfied.

    Unfortunately DoubleFirst support staff have remained totally ineffective and the person responsible for the install has been on annual leave. So we were left with issues and no resolution available. To make matters worse, I also found that UAC had been turned off from our server without our consent. The bursar spent the whole of last week either being unable to process accounts and payroll, or waiting for calls back saying that issues have been resolved. The call did not come but, caught on CCTV was the DoubleFirst project manager walking up the drive making a personal visit on his was to another local school. It was a very useful visit and it seems that he has realised that if their system expects 90's/early 00's style security, its not going to be taken seriously.

    The project manager explained that it was totally unacceptable for DoubleFirst staff to remove security from our systems without us being informed of what was happening. He is not disputing that this has happened, but I can imaging the conversation back at base with the trainer saying that the Bursar had given her admin access so she was aware that security/UAC was being removed. The problem seems to be that, in most schools, either the IT staff don't know what has been done or do not care. But in this case, I am getting them justify their actions and refusing access if its going to compromise the security of the school systems.

    Also, the project manager realises that it is unacceptable for a support member of staff to request UAC off and full control to everyone, even as a temporary measure, when it is clear to anyone with an ounce of developers skills that if data for one dropdown box is being successfully being read out of an SQL database row, suddenly requiring UAC off and full control is unlikely to affect data populating a similar dropdown again being populated from an SQL database row. It is clear to me that the level of technical application knowledge by support staff is inadequate given their ability to wreak havoc on a system by putting in place 'bandaid' solutions and actually having no clue as to what the underlying cause of the problem is.

    I'm going to some point have a visit from a lead developer at DoubleFirst to explain their position. Hopefully some more things can be resolved and plan-B will not be necessary. UAC off remains a tricky one, but I suspect that with a bit of thought, a solution not requiring this can be put in place. Five years ago, running with UAC turned off ma have been acceptable, but software suppliers must realise that IT has moving goal posts and simply devoting man power solely on bringing out bells and whistles for their latest products is not acceptable when a significant amount of effort is still required to keep their older systems up with the goal posts.

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    I can assure you that Plan B will not be necessary Ian - your posts here have been monitored and as you know we have responded to them.

    We acknowledge your experience has highlighted training issues with a staff member that will be addressed in our installation practices.

    Our Deputy Managing Director, who has very broad experience of school network environments and is fully trained and accredited and skilled in the skills you expect, will be conducting a full audit of our installation practices.

    Our Head of Development will be arranging to meet with you shortly.

    For clarification all of the Engage client and web components installed in your school are based on modern .Net Framework and SQL database; the Delphi elements are on the Double First accounts software which works well and will continue to be supported well into the future but which will be upgraded to a more modern code base as a part of our ongoing development programme.

    As you say we have already put a Project Manager on site and look forward to working through any concerns that you have directly.

    If you want to reach me at any stage my mobile number is 07590 693152.

    Kim Hollamby
    Group Managing Director
    du Pre Group



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