We're a small independent and looking into WCBS Pass. Information Management for Schools from WCBS
Are there any other independents out there using it? Which modules do you have?
We'd like comment on usibility, particularly in relation to fees... is it stand alone or is there a web version?
Last edited by elsiegee40; 26th November 2010 at 11:33 AM.
plexer (26th November 2010)
You dont plan to run vista/windows 7 or office 2010 do you?
We're XP apart from one Win 7 laptop used for marketing; I don't expect to start going Win 7 until 2012
servers are 2003 R2 and 2008 R2
Windows 7 has issues with it as they use crazy fade effects on their logo and I find that wcbs have never even ready any application design guide as the whole system is *unique* to the point it makes it harder to use. Once you get into the wcbs way its probably less of a problem but they dont make it easy. We also migrated from a MIS which pass has said would be no problem and painless, it turned out after we bought we had to do ALL the work putting the data into excel to give to them (not an issue for you though )
I will be honest and say I hate it really and other then a few members of their team who are prepared to listen and not dismiss generally they are a nightmare to deal with. I have found various things out like a hard coded master account that allows any of their staff into your system and it cant be disabled. Our old MIS had easy ways to make csv's but in the PASS system this is a nightmare by comparison. Also there are various DPA problems with their software design of mail merges etc which would cause you to breach the DPA in its current form and should have been spotted by them YEARS ago. I have more but I need a break to collect my thoughts...
We've got it for our financial DB after our accounts department got hacked off with Earnie32. I'm not really sure how they all feel about it but we've got the Personnel/Payroll/Fees/School Shop bits (Using SIMS for accademic management).
I would suspect that it's the old 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. Some thing it does well, some things it does badly. I do like how the program totally locks everyone out when you update it though to stop those who "Forgot" about the three E-mails you sent saying when you were applying updates and have logged in and caused problems.
We've been using it here for 10+ years on the finance side. Now using it for the academic and reporting side for the last 4-5 years. To be honest our accounts love it, staff are still not that keen but the new web version should help that out a lot.
We have multiply users on win7 and office 2010 and have no issues with it at all. I dont think it's that bad to be honest although never used another one. Rarely have to ring support on anything thats broken on it.
They have had pass.web for ages but there is something new called 3Sys Academic System which seems to be a whole new web front end for the teachers. Am having a demo of it later this month.
I know the big issue for the teachers is the interface is a little confusing which is why we are now looking at the web front end, the option to then access remotely for staff and parents is a bonus too.
We changed from Phoenix Gold to PASS in the summer - we also took the staff and parent portals. We're now running with 3sys Academic as pass.web (staff portal) was far too slow and cumbersome.
Thankfully they've rebranded and the purple/orange logo is being fazed out.
The downside is we've been running web based reporting and management dashboards for years (and I've been writing/designing them for at least the last 10 years) and not one MIS i've seen comes remotely close.
For schools which have come from a non-web based background, it will seem quite good. For those who have had some web based system may seem like a step back.
elsiegee40 (6th December 2010)
We use PASS. Started using it for the whole school this year; the Bursary have been using it for a few years for accounts & billing. The decision to migrate had already been made when I was hired, so I was brought in a little late to the party. Since then I have become far more intimately acquainted with its inner workings than I would like, though we currently have very few problems with it.
First off, we have no real problems at all running it on Windows 7. Yes, the fade effect on the Windows client is pointless but I'm honestly not sure it accounts for that much of the slow initial load time. The client interface is quite dated, and as ZeroHour has said, could definitely do with a lot of work to bring it up to scratch in terms of UI design. Most of the problems of the product stem from the somewhat organic growth of what is now quite an old product design. Overhauling both the database design and the UI would be a massive undertaking, and would be deeply unpopular with a lot of entrenched users, so I can understand the quandary they have gotten themselves in to on that front.
The only problem we have with Office 2010 is with mail merge sometimes not quite working as expected, but I know that is being worked on right now. I am told it works better in the patch that is on the cusp of being released, but I think it won't be until the one after that it is fixed completely.
Almost all of our staff use the web version so never see the older Windows client. We have just switched to the new 3Sys interface after an experience with Pass.web that was similar to jc1875's. The new interface is miles better, though it is a work in progress so there are still a few rough edges.
Things I like:
- The Report Builder is quite good once you get the hang of it.
- Being able to hook into it via SQL and/or ODBC is very handy.
- The support desk is not afraid to escalate things quickly and 1st level are very good at recognising when they need to do so.
- It's not nearly as bad as SIMS.
My overall opinion is that you could do a lot worse. I've yet to see an MIS that is even close to perfect. If you are thinking of moving to it I would say you should definitely be prepared to project manage the migration quite closely yourself, as your WCBS account manager will only have a light touch on the tiller, so to speak. If you'd like to chat in more detail, drop me a PM - I'd be happy to discuss further by phone.
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