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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS Support query in Technical; Morning all, This is my first post on this lovely site, so please bare with my naeitvity! I'm working at ...
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    SIMS Support query

    Morning all,

    This is my first post on this lovely site, so please bare with my naeitvity!

    I'm working at a secondary school that is currently going through some major IT changes (all of which are typically vague and undecided) and I have been asked by our Head to consider a change to our SIMS support.

    Our SIMS service is currently supported by the LA and our IT is a managed service (but this is almost definately going to change)

    Our Head has made it clear that they would like to be supported by Capita directly but has asked for my comments etc.

    ...which brings me to you! Any comments or advice on SIMS support services would be much appreciated, anything to consider really when making this change.

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    Vegas's Avatar
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    Our LA's support of SIMS has been excellent over the last 10 years, I wouldn't change.

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    Thanks Vegas,

    I've got to admit that was my initial reaction. However, there is an implication that the priorites of our support team will be changing which has prompted out Head to ask the question.

    Suppose the LA support ceased to exist, what would be your recommendation? I'm just thinking theoretically so that I can clue myself up on the alternatives so that I'm not lead down a blind alley by the whims of our SMT.

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    cromertech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vegas View Post
    Our LA's support of SIMS has been excellent over the last 10 years, I wouldn't change.
    Alternatively we have our support direct with Capita as it has also been excellent.


    I would just think of service times when looking to change as ultimately the support comes from Capita anyway who pass it down to the LA who in turn pass it down to you. This is why we don't want to move away from direct support as it could take an extra day or two before a response is received.

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    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecclesbury View Post
    However, there is an implication that the priorites of our support team will be changing which has prompted out Head to ask the question.
    Are they a dedicated SIMS support, if so how would their priorities be changing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    Are they a dedicated SIMS support, if so how would their priorities be changing?
    To be honest creese, I don't know. As far as I was concerned they were dedicated SIMS support, but reading between the lines of what I've been asked suggests it's not the case (not discounting the relatively high chance that our Head is misinformed). As is the way with these things I have only been given very minimal information which is why I'm having to speak hypothetically most of the time.

    My main concern (and apologies for any technical inaccuracies, my background is not in IT!) is that a lot of the support we currently receive from the LA is things like migrating the database, installing upgrade/patches, technical server stuff etc etc. Am I right in thinking that if we moved to direct Capita support they would not support this, and this kind of thing would have to be taken up by whoever supports out IT provision (whether that be In-house or another managed service?)

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    creese's Avatar
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    Does sound a bit 'grapeviney', is that a word?

    I believe Capita support will do anything you require but probably stick closer to their SLA than the LA teams I know. If you still want the migrations, installs and upgrades etc. you need to get Capita support to quote like for like.

    Edit: That would also include going direct to you current support for their SLA and check if there are any changes imminent.
    Last edited by creese; 16th March 2011 at 09:52 AM.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    We moved from LA Support to Capita Direct support a number of years ago.
    I cannot praise the level of support we get direct from Capita high enough.
    The fact that I can record every detail of any issue I have directly into a support case means that they can very easily focus down on the actual issue!

    It may cost you to move though, as you may have to purchase the SIMS Licences that you require, as well as paying the Annual Support Maintenance costs. If the LA is obtaining the Licences at a discounted rate then they cannot just pass them across to the school. You need to get a quote from Capita on what costs this proposed move might incur.

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    Thanks for everyone's speedy/informative responses so far!

    For those already using Capita support, do you install upgrades/patches yourself? How does that work in practice? When each upgrade is released do Capita just send you the upgrade and let you get on with things, or are there any restrictions? And can anyone confirm that if we required it Capita would do this work for us (and presumably have remote access to our SIMS server?

    The licenses point is well taken, I will definately raise that (money talks round here!)

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    We haven’t contacted then in about 3-4 months so things might have improved however we have been dealing with them for about 3 years

    We have support from Capita for Lesson monitor, on several occasions we were forced to write letters of complaint to Capita regarding the handling of several cases, these ranged from standard copy and paste solutions that were applied to every problem regardless of what the fault was, support staff only communicating in emails regardless of if you requested a phone call re a problem they were dealing with and even to the point that they wouldn’t take our calls when we rang to some faults taking 6+ weeks to resolve.

    As I said this was 3-4 months ago and Capita might have improved.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    All releases are available on SOLUS as soon as the new releases are available - unlike the case with some LAs who hold them back for a while.
    Patches can be either via SOLUS or are mailed directly - depending on the Patch Type and what it is for.

    As for problems with SupportNet not responding to Cases - this is not the case here although some years ago there were issues when we also had 'part support' for extra modules. The problem with that scenario is identifying exactly where the actual faults lie! This is not always as easy to ascertain as one might think! Having support for different areas from different Support Units is yet another reason why we moved!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 16th March 2011 at 10:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    All releases are available on SOLUS as soon as the new releases are available - unlike the case with some LAs who hold them back for a while.
    To be fair, the reason these have been held back by LAs is due to the sheer number of broken upgrade that were retracted within days of being released. Fixing one school is not too much of a bind but try 200 or so schools. Waiting 2 weeks is not that much of a problem to schools. Maybe one or two of that number would be upgraded if absolutely necessary and they knew the risk.

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    I understand why LAs hold back releases. I was not inferring anything in my statement above. I know that there are good reasons for doing this.
    I was just pointing out that a SIMS Direct School can make their own decisions as to when to upgrade.

    When we were an LA Supported school we often took the release via the LA to test it for others in the LA, as even then we were in the vanguard of SIMS Testing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    I was just pointing out that a SIMS Direct School can make their own decisions as to when to upgrade.
    Point take, but our schools have exactly the same freedom of choice. Many choose to wait much longer than we advise.

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    True.

    If it were me though I would often be wanting the new functionality on Day 1 (even if I have to upgrade SIMS before SLG - which I have now done 4 times with no adverse effect!)

    For example - the Spring release is due by COB on 18th March. This exactly coincides with the deadline for inputting Ach and Beh incidents for our next Rewards Assemblies and subsequent Rewards Trips etc. Hence I need the new Conduct Area in SIMS Reporting and the new Aggregated Points Repdef that is being delivered via the Spring Release. The current reporting of Conduct points is broken!

    If schools are in a similar position to us, then they will have the issue we have if the Upgrade is delayed for any reason - major problems with our Rewards procedures.
    Last edited by Sivadam; 16th March 2011 at 11:17 AM.



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