I have a couple of comments to make.
Firstly - I am the Principal of an Independent School, and we have just been nominated for the Independent School Awards, partly due to our use of the SIMS software. We use most of the modules - both the financial and academic ones - and our staff find the software easy to use. As a Principal, I find that the data I need (which is largely performance analysis information) is brought to my desktop without me having to search or carry out my own analyses. Our students have tests in their academic subjects almost every week, this data goes into SIMS and an appropriate analysis is pushed to heads of department/year/deputy heads and myself. Thousands of marks are analysed - and this information is used to inform progress of the children. We have seen, this year, our league table position rise from around 440 to 107. We have cut our costs dramatically - by removing large quantities of paper (eg all bills are emailed, no paper copies sent out now, all payslips are emailed, no paper payslips, all weekly newsletters to parents are emailed - and all reports are provided electronically.) We do not currently enter merits/demerits - but this is our next step. I would like parents to see House Points (Harry Potter style) through this system, online, alongside test results.
Secondly, I think it is very useful for Phil to be able to post on these threads. I do not view his comments as glib "sales" speak. I find many of the comments informative, helpful - and I would hope (and believe) that he takes back the comments made by us (the users) to his development/sales/product teams in Capita.
Sorry that I've overstepped the mark in this posting; I was trying to correct a factual inaccuracy and got carried away.
Lets try and stick to discussing the MISes referred to in the OP.
Woah! I didn't see any mods weighing in with 'back on topic' when I was getting roasted. It's just that that there seems to be two sets of rules operating here, one for the big guys and one for the small guys - and guess who's getting the thick end of the stick?.
Ok, had my say, back on topic...
Referring back to the original question, we are an independent school who moved from SchoolBase to iSAMS over 2 years ago now, and are entirely happy with the move. We found SchoolBase to be a little limiting, particularly with academic reports and although SB tried to be accommodating in terms of adjusting the system to cope with this, it made the system quite volatile and staff became hesitant using it.
Staff now are a lot happier using iSAMS and find it easy and intuitive, some comments are that there is a lot happening on screen though it can be quite easily managed to ensure you are only viewing what is necessary.
The level of support from both companies is good, we found iSAMS startup and transition support excellent which made the move very easy.
The change from SB to iSAMS has worked very well for us mainly due to the more intuitive nature of iSAMS and it is a decision we are pleased with.
In this thread SIMS/Capita have been mentioned 3 times by different people already, the guidelines do allow for companies to respond to legitimate queries about their products, though in this case it was borderline, and after it was reported is being discussed in the mods forum.
Please note that neither of the people complaining in this thread are registered as having reported any of the posts in question, if you don't follow the procedures we can't follow ours. Sorry if this appears unfair but we are volunteers following guidelines set out for us.
Thank you to all who have posted about Schoolbase and iSAMS. All information has been of use in our deliberations.
We have had both Schoolbase and iSAMS now deliver a presentation each and we are currently now deliberating as to who we go with. This takes some time as a lot of people from accross lots of different areas of the school have been involved and need to have some input into the decision but hopefully within the next couple of days we will have decided. When we do decide I will post up here who we have gone with and our reasons... if people would find this information useful??
Just on a side note to Phil and to Toby; SIMS is a good product and when I first started here I would have encouraged a lot of people to move to SIMS. However after seeing just how our school works and seeing what the demands are SIMS would not have met our requirements. This I know becuase prior to being at this School I used to work for Capita SIMS in various roles in regional centres and also at Bedford HQ for about 8 years. I was on the frontline working with Schools and LA's for all that time. This is how I knew that SIMS would not work in our School.
Anyway staying on topic if people would like me to post up here who we go with and how we came to our decision then I'll be happy to if it will be useful.
I'd be interested to know what attracted you to the small providers. Price alone, or other factors?
Price is actually fairly similar to be honest. What attracted us to the smaller providers was that they are only for Independant schools and also other Schools that we know and are close to or have good links to have spoken of these 2 mains ones or are using them which then started us looking at them and finding that the list of customers for each of them are very extensive. We were also quite attracted by the flexibility and the "Can Do" attitude when it comes to modify the software package to fit our needs, which they both do within reason plus we need a system which can be housed on School site as we have lots of other databases/applications within School that require either information from the main database or actual SQL connectivity to the database.
We are an independant school also preparing to look at MIS providers at the momoment
If possible could you share the types of things you were looking at from the MIS and the provider? What were the important things for you and how it swayed your decision of choosing either. Did you have a certain scope for comparing the two?
Is there a suggested framework anywhere which gives you ideas on how to properly compare what is on the market?
Last edited by Max_Power; 29th November 2010 at 09:57 AM.
To begin with the main driver for our choice was service, rather than functionality - which may seem strange but reflected our experience at the time. What I'd say now is that accessibility online for parents and staff; communications in-built such as email and mailmerge have hugely improved our connections with parrents, staff and even pupils; having assessment data readily accessible and processable has led to much better guidance, target setting, analysis etc; a confidence that things "just work" and that on the whole there is no tech support issue; getting all sorts of timetable data out in all sorts of ways; medical and SEN info accessible for those who need it; recording and sharing of concerns and achievements that lie below the threshold of school rewards and sanctions; how's that for a start? I'd recommend that you get potential providers to give you some names of schools and then you go and see the products in action and get a warts-and-all view on site (try asking some passing teachers?). We'd be happy to host you here if you like - PM me.
Max_Power (29th November 2010)
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