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MIS Systems Thread, Do you LOVE your current school software? in Technical; making it harder and more expensive for suppliers. OK I can see the (repeated) pain school-side, but how hard is ...
  1. #31

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    making it harder and more expensive for suppliers.
    OK I can see the (repeated) pain school-side, but how hard is that supplier-side then? How much does it actually cost them and why?

    I'm nothing like an expert on what's required, but quickly glancing at the 2011 guidance the changes just don't look that big. If you wanted to pay me ooh.. 50K a year to do nothing but worry about those for any given product, update some specialist census reporting/validation code, fret about "nice" deployment mechanisms of these updates and so on... I reckon I might be able to spend six months a year sunning myself on a beach. Now amortise that cost across the customers and recall how much you already pay for maintenance.

    But again I'm not an expert, so perhaps someone more enlightened can credibly explain why this is naive?

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    SpuffMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oxide54 View Post
    The last SIMS update required, everyone to be logged out of SIMS, full backup of database to taken. Client workstations updated, (and don't tell me this is automatic.) SIMS workstations updates relies on giving users write permissions to areas of the workstation they shouldn't have. Windows Updates (WSUS) performs these updates in the background independant of the users permissions.
    This is one of the reasons that I like CMIS - its so easy to do the updates.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpuffMonkey View Post
    This is one of the reasons that I like CMIS - its so easy to do the updates.
    Generally SIMS is not difficult to do either. If suitable procedures are in place and used then there are no worries most of the time.

    There are major upgrades to be done from time to time, but so is there in Windows/Server. How intrusive is a Server migration (ie to 2008)?

    I think part of the reason we forget MS products is that we are expected to learn to use the software how it is, rather than with an MIS we want it to do what we want, and comment/moan/argue* Delete as appropriate as to how and what should be done. Funny that!

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    EdWhittaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post

    I think part of the reason we forget MS products is that we are expected to learn to use the software how it is, rather than with an MIS we want it to do what we want...
    And this is a very good point, Graham. We may curse at the idiosyncrasies or Word or Excel but we do, in general, learn to use them as they are. However, once you make it know that there is the possibility of some customisation with an application, then expectation levels rise, sometimes to an unrealistic level (I'm speaking from personal experience with our own product) with a concomitant increase in disappointment levels. The less you expect from a product, the less likely you are to be disappointed (and vice versa!).

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    And this is a very good point, Graham. We may curse at the idiosyncrasies or Word or Excel but we do, in general, learn to use them as they are. However, once you make it know that there is the possibility of some customisation with an application, then expectation levels rise, sometimes to an unrealistic level (I'm speaking from personal experience with our own product) with a concomitant increase in disappointment levels. The less you expect from a product, the less likely you are to be disappointed (and vice versa!).
    Fully agree Ed. I do find it interesting though in the various 'discussions' on MIS abilities and features. In the schools I have worked in, there is very little moaning and groaning that (SIMS, only because that is all I have worked with) will not do this or that. Yes there are the odd 'wouldn't it be nice if'... but then it would be nice if Excel did a lot of things!!! I have worked with staff to learn to use the software as it is, just as you would with MS apps. Not to get hopes up or anything else, just 'this is what the software does, and this is how to use it to it's best'. That is where my success with MISs has come.

    And going back one, it would be nice if Excel did a lot of things, but we manage without it and work just as well without it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post
    OK I can see the (repeated) pain school-side, but how hard is that supplier-side then? How much does it actually cost them and why?

    I'm nothing like an expert on what's required, but quickly glancing at the 2011 guidance the changes just don't look that big.
    Have a peek at this, it wont be in place for spring but these changes have been submitted to the CBDS for Summer !

    DfE: New Local Authority Codes - January 2011

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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjo View Post
    Have a peek at this, it wont be in place for spring but these changes have been submitted to the CBDS for Summer !

    DfE: New Local Authority Codes - January 2011
    The DFE changes are really not that much of a coding big deal. And I'm speaking as someone who has just done the January Census updates. Any big supplier would like you to think it's very time consuming to accommodate. But to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, "well, they would say that, wouldn't they" .

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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    The DFE changes are really not that much of a coding big deal. And I'm speaking as someone who has just done the January Census updates. Any big supplier would like you to think it's very time consuming to accommodate. But to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, "well, they would say that, wouldn't they" .
    But this may impact on UPN's & CTF's etc. Every database that holds pupils records Whether at school (MIS), LA (Central database + internal databases), supplier (FFT etc), or national level (S2S, Edubase, Collect etc) will need recoding.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scholarpack View Post
    The DFE changes are really not that much of a coding big deal. And I'm speaking as someone who has just done the January Census updates.....
    As the one that first mentioned this - the argument I put forward is that the updates have to be done - not that it is difficult to do.
    As you say - you have had to do them for January Census!
    What does take a little longer are the new innovations that are often included in the software - innovations that have often appeared as a direct result of customer consultation and testing. Just look at the enhancements in SIMS Spring Release to see examples!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 4th January 2011 at 12:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    I really don't understand why the spec for the census changes every time. One suspects that it's either incompetence at DfE or some shiny-hatted civil servant justifying his job. Both are equally likely in my book....
    If you check the specifications you will see that during 2011/12 the statutory requirements will change for 16 different areas. If you are a SIMS user then these are listed in Section 4 of the SIMS Entitlement Document (I assume that other suppliers have a similar document!). These changes all have to be written into the software in time for each Upgrade. And the list does not include any new changes that the DfE has not yet published. With a new Government there could be many of these!



    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    ... Getting back to the original topic: we used CMIS at my school and we teachers loved it in the same way we loved visiting the dentist - a painful necessity! We loved the way it would mysteriously not save the info we'd entered, despite clicking 'submit'. Oh how we laughed when the deputy told us at staff briefing that all (yes ALL) of the end of term reports that everyone had done on CMIS had 'disappeared' - and could we all please do them again? What a lark! Since I've left the school, they have moved over to SIMS; apparently the staff love that just as much!!
    One wonders if this indicates that the software is not set up to it's optimum in the first place.
    Apologies if my thought is incorrect, but this sort of issue should not occur with either of the MISs that you mention.
    Last edited by Sivadam; 4th January 2011 at 12:56 PM.

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    EdWhittaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    One wonders if this indicates that the software is not set up to it's optimum in the first place.
    Apologies if my thought is incorrect, but this sort of issue should not occur with either of the MISs that you mention.
    Yes, this is true; users have the responsibility to ensure that they are using the application in accordance with suppliers recommendations. However, a more resilient, easier to use application would minimise these difficulties. The problems referred to above were, as I understand it, the result of an update which broke more things than it fixed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    ....The problems referred to above were, as I understand it, the result of an update which broke more things than it fixed.
    It certainly should not have happened with SIMS - at least it has never been a general problem to my knowledge!
    No doubt CMIS Users will be able to comment in a similar vein re. their experiences!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 4th January 2011 at 01:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GNewnham View Post
    All the iSAMS updates happen automatically at night......
    As do SIMS Upgrades if you use SOLUS3! You do have something to do though - decide which workstations you want to upgrade and when - i.e. it is totally under the control of the school. In my book that is a massive advantage. If you are in the middle of a big Reporting Session then you may wish to delay that upgrade until that Reporting Session is complete - especially if you know that there will be changes to the software in that area!!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 4th January 2011 at 01:09 PM.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    As do SIMS Upgrades if you use SOLUS3! You do have something to do though - decide which workstations you want to upgrade and when - i.e. it is totally under the control of the school. In my book that is a massive advantage. If you are in the middle of a big Reporting Session then you may wish to delay that upgrade until that Reporting Session is complete - especially if you know that there will be changes to the software in that area!!
    Oh how many times did we upgrade during Autumn reporting season and find AM7 dies when trying to produce reports, Mike? lol

    Well, I apparantly didn't learn my lesson and did it 3 times!

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREED View Post
    Oh how many times did we upgrade during Autumn reporting season and find AM7 dies when trying to produce reports, Mike? lol
    Well, I apparantly didn't learn my lesson and did it 3 times!
    Graham - I am surprised at you! Once should have been enough!

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