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MIS Systems Thread, BECTA reports on School MIS and value for money 2010 in Technical; 'Best value' can mean a multitude of things though. Obviously, in year 1, you would weigh up all the pros ...
  1. #16

    Ric_'s Avatar
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    'Best value' can mean a multitude of things though. Obviously, in year 1, you would weigh up all the pros and cons of each system and choose whichever suits your needs at a price you can afford. Subsequent years would be more of a decision as to whether your current system still fulfills your needs, whether there has been a price hike and whether moving to another system is faesable (in terms of time, training and money).

    I suppose what I'm really saying is to make the right decision first time around with a view to what it can offer you in the future.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Agree with above, best value does not always mean cheapest.

    Additionally, I would love to see schools change their MIS system every year based on this framework. That is not to say that the ROI is not reviewed.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    That's the same one in this thread right? BECTA reports on School MIS and value for money 2010
    Just got a different title i think.

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    Sarconia's Avatar
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    Cor, that is indeed a very hefty document. I'll have a read when I've got a while!

    The only problem I can see is getting schools to switch their MIS provider, most of them simply don't ever want to deal with the hassle of it.

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    The point about academy's and free schools is the autonomy they have from the government. I would have thought many would relish the chance to cut costs in areas where the decision has always been made for them at LEA level. This sort of 'hassle' comes hand in hand with greater financial independence.

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    But would it cut costs?

    How much would it cost to investigate, after all school staff time costs money, as well as suppliers time. Can you image Capita going out to 22,000 schools, I think it would costs more then it does. I think it should be done on some sort of larger scale, like "BECTA" does a direct comparies between them all so schools can go, I want A, C, F, G, now supplier X,Y does all that, estimated cost would be ££, hello supplier X and Y can I please have a demo.

    Add to the fact you can keep your old database and save yourself ALOT of hassle.

  7. #22

    GREED's Avatar
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    I have a question:

    What happens when the decision is made to move from one system, expensive but robust, to something cheaper or 'better value' (which in this example better value will most likely only mean cheaper), and after than, it is decided that the old way was much better, and you are paying for quality and not (anti)quantity?

    I tell you for starters... jobs go

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    I have a question:

    What happens when the decision is made to move from one system, expensive but robust, to something cheaper or 'better value' (which in this example better value will most likely only mean cheaper), and after than, it is decided that the old way was much better, and you are paying for quality and not (anti)quantity?

    I tell you for starters... jobs go
    Which is why you don't just take cost into account when deciding these things! You example is one based purely on a hypothetical situation. Whatever we say about our management, I'm pretty sure most of them actually understand that 'cheaper doesn't always mean a better deal'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Which is why you don't just take cost into account when deciding these things! You example is one based purely on a hypothetical situation. Whatever we say about our management, I'm pretty sure most of them actually understand that 'cheaper doesn't always mean a better deal'.
    Not suggesting otherwise localz. And my example above was talking about a situation that many a school will find themselves in. A system that does what they need, are trained and happy with, maybe a bit expensive. Would a change to something that, the only advantage having, being cheaper, make said schools change over, with all the fuss that will cause.

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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    You imply that the only advantage of other MIS providers is that they are cheaper??...many other systems are totally web based, for example. Many other systems have a more open database, adhere to standards better and are not only integrated with MS products (even more costs for MS licenses) too.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Not suggesting otherwise localz. And my example above was talking about a situation that many a school will find themselves in. A system that does what they need, are trained and happy with, maybe a bit expensive. Would a change to something that, the only advantage having, being cheaper, make said schools change over, with all the fuss that will cause.
    Again, the point is - you take into account the 'hassle' as it has a cost value to the school too! If, once you've factored in all the other costs, and your requirements, the other system comes in 'better value' then yes, they should change. But if, as you seem to be trying to imply, they will only take into account the license cost then they're not doing it properly and it should be questioned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    ...as you seem to be trying to imply, they will only take into account the license cost then they're not doing it properly and it should be questioned.
    Again, no, cost is not the only issue I am fully aware.

    I would firstly say that a school is not going to be interested in how, behind the scenes, it is interoperable it is with dozens of third party systems etc etc. The school should be interested in how usable, robust, easy to learn, intuitive, and yes cost.

    I highlight ease of use etc, because I seem to remember elsewhere in another thread someone (not pointing fingers because I cannot remember who) saying that training staff is well down the list of priorities with a new system. Not to bring that argument back up here again, but if you are going to change a system because, as seems to be implied here, it can be developed by this that and the other (none of which I am particularly against!), at the expense of a difficult to use system by the people that use it most... then I'm sorry but to quote above 'they're not doing it properly and it should be questioned'. I mean just how long has it taken your key staff to learn a system enough to be confident and proficient in their job? your timetabler for example?

    Moving this forward, where will this end? Are we to expect that Office will be replaced by open office? Windows with Linux? if all factors taken into account of course.

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    The point about academy's and free schools is the autonomy they have from the government.
    My half-hearted impression could be wrong, but I thought it was more autonomy from LA and currently indeterminate amount of control from central gov (but possibly more)?

    Whatever, I can be as fierce about hidden real costs (support, training and so on) as anyone but yet again I thoroughly agree with BECTA saying the total spend on just MIS annual maintenance + licence renewal is "unacceptable". And that a fundamentally-the-same school A has to pay for it all over again if their status changes isn't any more impressive regardless of the excuses - I would be very sorely tempted to take the retraining et al expense hit for another system, just to stick two fingers up at that.

  14. #29

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Again, no, cost is not the only issue I am fully aware.

    I would firstly say that a school is not going to be interested in how, behind the scenes, it is interoperable it is with dozens of third party systems etc etc. The school should be interested in how usable, robust, easy to learn, intuitive, and yes cost.
    Then you'd be wrong. Our school would be *very* interested in how interoperable the system is, as are plenty of others. Just look at the number of posts on here where people are trying to pull data from SIMS and are finding themselves stuck between a rock (commandreporter) and a hard place (the API and its associated NDA).

    I highlight ease of use etc, because I seem to remember elsewhere in another thread someone (not pointing fingers because I cannot remember who) saying that training staff is well down the list of priorities with a new system. Not to bring that argument back up here again, but if you are going to change a system because, as seems to be implied here, it can be developed by this that and the other (none of which I am particularly against!), at the expense of a difficult to use system by the people that use it most... then I'm sorry but to quote above 'they're not doing it properly and it should be questioned'. I mean just how long has it taken your key staff to learn a system enough to be confident and proficient in their job? your timetabler for example?
    Our timetabler went on a couple of courses, and then produced this years timetable flawlessly, using Nova T. There's no reason on earth why it'd be a huge issue to retrain people. The overall functionality is the same across all MIS's - if it wasn't, they wouldn't be MIS's. The difference is where things are and workflows. Look at the switch from Office 2003 to 2007/2010 - most people make the transition easily.

    Moving this forward, where will this end? Are we to expect that Office will be replaced by open office? Windows with Linux? if all factors taken into account of course.
    Once again, you are missing the point. You say you aren't but you keep going back to it again and again! Best value DOES NOT MEAN CHEAPEST. If Open Office works out as best value then yes, you would be expected to change to it. Just because a school has been using a system for a long time does not mean they should carry on doing so. What is wrong with requiring schools to adequately research the spending choices they are making?

    If we translated your apparent desire to stick with what you've got simply because people are used to it and its a hassle to move, then why not just always buy Ford cars every time you purchase? Or stick with the same electricity provider for ever? How about your builders? Why tender out when you want things built? Why not simply go to the same one each time. The answer is simple - because you won't be ensuring best value, and more than likely will be paying over the odds for something that other providers can provide just as well, or better for less money.

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    I think there's just an inherent assumption that not rocking the boat is easiest, as the resistance to change is usually large. Training is not such a big issue, though depending on how well you use the existing system it's a big task that needs managing.

    I'm all for looking around and getting the best value, which should also be a better product with more functions, the issue is, the process of changeover is a long one. I would want to parallel run for probably a year, so it's not a short term thing. Looking at value for money needs to be forecast over 3 or maybe 5 years. Then you can see what potential gains should be.

    If there's no objection, i'm going to merge this thread with the earlier one regarding the Becta report and VFM.

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