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MIS Systems Thread, Integris or Pearson Phoenix - Advice Needed in Technical; ...
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    azouryz's Avatar
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    Integris or Pearson Phoenix - Advice Needed

    The Student Information System our school have been implementing has numerous limitations and disadvantages, especially in the reports and data analysis fields. We are now considering changing the System and would like to receive advice and suggestions from other schools who are satisfied with their system, a user-friendly, ‘smart’ data analysis interface that converts raw data into a management well-informed decisions tool.

    In addition to the regular enrolment, attendance and grading data, we are looking for a system that does the following:

    1. Smart attendance absconding reports: a report that highlights missing students from a specific class (ditching)

    2. Grades’ Analysis: a statistical report on grades by subject, grade, teachers, …. Including averages per class, deviation, ….

    3. Enrolment for the coming year: our present system does not allow us to enrol students for the coming year until we ‘roll-over’ our present students – which only happens end of June.


    At present, we have had high recommendations for Integris and Pearson Phoenix ; can you please send me a brief about the system your school is using, your advice onto what factors to consider, and your recommendation as we are trying to collect end-users reviews to avoid the ''perfect vendor presentation" trap where decisions will be based off a 2 hour presentation given by each company which, while being informative, will be biased towards the good points of their products. We need to get an idea on what these products are like in real world use. Could you please leave any comments, advantages, disadvantages, you may have had using Integris or Pearson Phoenix , in particular if you have had experience of more than one of these MISs and can provide any comparrison observations.

    Thanks

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    You might want to talk to Sherborne Qatar or us at Sherborne (UK). Both schools use iSAMS which can certainly do all of the things you list above.

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    vikpaw (16th May 2011)

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    @sherborneschool That's really useful to know. Is / Are Sherborne Qatar members of EduGeek? Perhaps you could recommend us, and they can join the middle east group, it seems there are quite a few intricacies that need to be catered for that aren't required in the UK / western countries.

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    Hi
    I've only seen ISAMS at BETT, but it looks to be able to do what you need. How well it does it, I can't comment. It was designed specifically for public schools so it's got stuff you may not need. We have to work with school MIS systems for our business and, tbh, we don't rate either Integris nor Pearson. Working on the basis that there isn't really a decent MIS available at all, I'd look at (I can't believe I'm saying this!) SIMS or CMIS - though the latter is due to be replaced by Progresso.

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    I will find out - meanwhile I am sure they would be happy to talk to you.

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    WE use SchoolBase which would do all you are asking - and dead easily. I rate the ability to get stuff out of SchoolBase without needing to delve behind the scenes - some very non-tech minded staff get all sorts of data out without help. We have next year's enrolment already in the database (and could extend into the far future...)

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    No experience of the two you mention. We use SIMS here:

    1) The Lesson Monitor module manages this very well, will show you patterns, ditching linked to a sibling absence, class ditching, this can even be tied in to sending messages home via various third party systems or the very new In-Touch module.

    2. There is a pretty robust module called Assessment Manager, which can manage in-depth grade recording and analysis, as well as the Performance Analysis module. This has recently been supplemented by the Discover tool, which gives minority report style graphical drag and drop analysis of data on the fly, allowing dynamic groups to be formed and reported on based on your criteria.

    3. It has a built-in pre-enrollment area that is designed to house and manage future students, and there is an additional Admissions module that would cover everything from phone enquiries to visits, assessments, and waitlisting. Roll over is preplanned and activated at the start of term or your date of choosing.

    It can definitely do what you want, however it does come with some limitations. Many areas might not work as you wish, certainly with regards to reporting - tied to our non-gregorian days of the week (c.f. recent thread by @NorthernSands).

    The constant statutory changes which must be made in the UK are also forced upon us, even though we're independent, and this is a major hassle, forcing upgrades, and whatever fallout follows.

    You don't have access to the underlying data, at least not in a way that allows you to tailor things to your needs to make changes to data, you must use the interface. This could be a major disadvantage, and change requests will easily fall by the way side and not be considered, certainly as we are part of a minority user group.

    It is a massive system and takes time to setup and get going like any other, you might also find it quite costly.

    Access to support is difficult with only 40% cross over, however, i must say that with that in mind, i've had fantastic support from the team, specifically Zoe, recently, Paul, and the account manager Greg is a top bloke. Add to that their SupportNet website and EduGeek and it's all Golden

    Generally i would consider significantly:
    1) factors to do with calendar week and reporting
    2) support levels and availability in the region
    3) what MIS other local schools are using [peer support is essential]
    4) need for tailoring the system and how open the company is to that
    5) cost, including implementation, transfer of data and training

    Ask the vendor not what they do or do well, but what they do that is different to the other vendors, or that is more helpful to you as an international independent. Even ask them areas that they and their competitors don't do well. They might be willing to slate another company and that will aid your evaluation.

    Ask what their plans are for our international sector and specific things they are working on to make things better for us. Or at least what they can offer us.

    In addition I was going to mention these companies if you haven't already researched them:

    ISAMS - purport to do well for independent schools
    ScholarPack - Free (not sure about international), but willing to customise the system
    Bromcom - really user friendly, intuitive interface and efficient system
    CMIS - does allow access to the underlying SQL database to access the data yourself

  9. 2 Thanks to vikpaw:

    JohnCondon (17th May 2011), NorthernSands (18th May 2011)

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    NorthernSands's Avatar
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    We too use SIMS. I can't add much to what @vikpaw has already said (he summed it up quite nicely). I will say that I've used SIMS for about 8/9 years, from the old Launcher days) and I've been involved with the system in approx 200 schools. I have a love / hate relationship with it. What it does it generally does very well, but you do have to work the way it wants you to work. The exception to that, I would say, is in recording assessment data. Assessment Manager is an extremely powerful tool to record assessment and allow tracking and analysis at the Student level (Performance Analysis and Discover allow Group level analysis). It does allow a great deal of flexibility, but that comes at a cost; it takes a long time to get it working 'just right', but when it does, it's great.

    I'll also vouch for Greg (SIMS International Schools' Account Manager); he's a nice guy and not a 'pushy salesman' and really does appear to have your best interests at heart. And I'm not just saying that 'cause he bought me a pint, or five!

    Capita are also focussing more on Independent and International schools. They're in the process of setting up a dedicated development team for us and that can only be a good thing.

    I can't really comment on any other system, but if you're looking at a web-based system, be mindful of where it's hosted. The internet link between Qatar and the UK (or where-ever the system might be hosted) is not always very good. The submarine fibre-optic cables keep getting severed by ships' anchors. Having said that, I've heard that both Qtel and Vodafone Qatar are both landing new cables in Doha. Not sure when they go live but it will mean we won't have to go via Dubai!

    My door is always open to any school in Qatar who wants to pop up and see SIMS in anger (warts'n'all).

  11. Thanks to NorthernSands from:

    vikpaw (18th May 2011)

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    Greg never bought me a pint, though there was some fizzy at the BETT show.

    @azouryz - it might also be worth considering your school's future plans with regard to expansion of systems, do you have a VLE, will you want one, as how these interact with the MIS systems can vary widely as there doesn't appear to be any standard widely used yet.. Who your service providers are and what they can do for you will have an impact on your choice.

    Also, what's your IT team like. SIMS management, well any MIS really, is a full time job, so if you're IT Manager / IT Technician, these will add significant work for you, so you might go for something that needs little config / training.



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