Sivadam (28th July 2011)
Don't get me wrong, they do listen. But when the "system" allows several versions of the same request... we don't have much hope.
The object of the exercise is diminished before the meeting starts.
Unfortunately we have enough difficulty travelling over the county (a small one) let alone to any meetings or consultations these days.
Sivadam (28th July 2011)
Wherever possible the duplicates are amalgamated into one before the meetings. That in itself is a massive job and the participants of the meetings often spot others that need to be combined. Some CRs have already made it into the development stage before the meetings. The CR list is then tidied up (hopefully) for the following year! Some are removed as a result of explanations/consultations (as happened to a one of mine the previous year when I could not attend that meeting - even though it was fairly well supported!). Other CRs are adopted and added to the development schedule and some are left to run!
I've looked in:
Suite - Sims..... nothing, no heading for SLG
Suite - Sims .Net.... nothing....
eSuite .... no idea what that is...... but it's not there either
EMS & EMS Online.... just in case... it ain't there either
So I'm guessing that SLG Change requests were pretty thin on the ground or posted by people with a far better patience level than me.
Currently there are 27 Pages of CRs in the Learning Gateway 2 category and 4 Pages in the ADPS category. (Searching from January 2009).
At the Software meeting, the spreadsheet of CRs took up 14 pages of an Excel Spreadsheet! They had been divided into different Sub-categories e.g. 8 CRs for Parent Dashboard, 10 CRs for Profiles etc etc. Bear in mind that there would have been some combining of duplicates in this process! (I personally have 8 CRs for Profiles in SLG - one of which is supported by 106 votes). So a great deal of work had already been done prior to the meeting to collate the CRs!
The relevant CR sections on SupportNet have not yet been edited since the Software meeting! I assume that this will be done once the SIMS development plans for next year have been agreed on!
Last edited by Sivadam; 29th July 2011 at 02:56 PM.
I've just been given the job of managing our SLG schools next academic year... I may be in touch
We are currently looking at that now but the LA has not bought into the Optional Webparts (currently Homework) and I am trying to get some movement on that theme!
May I add that my expertise is the use of the software and NOT the technical side of things!
The Output from SIMS Learning Gateway Consultation July 2011 in now available on SupportNet as Resource 18270!
Back in the day.....
A certain well-known global computer organisation offered support to its customers via a helpdesk of techies. These techies were supported by a database of known problems and their related fixes, so when customers called to report a problem they could be offered a fix straight away. If no fix was available, then the new problem would be logged, and sent to the change-teams to work on. Any customers reporting the same problem would be made aware that a fix was being worked upon, and when that fix was then available all the customers would then be informed.
Fixes relating to the same area would be periodically amalgamated into more robust fixes, since problem areas can overlap and interefere with each other, and these too would be notified to customers, who would then choose whether to apply the fix (they may not be using that particular area in the software, and therefore choose not to apply the fix).
These fixes would then be amalgamated into software releases. All the fixes had unique identifying numbers, software was installed with details of which fixes had been applied, and everyone knew where they were, and how to get things fixed.
None of this is rocket science. Obviously, for the sake of brevity, there's a lot of detail missing, but it really was that simple as I'm sure a lot of us are very aware. We have the basic support infrastructure in place to allow CAPITA to produce a quality product with quality support - is there any way we can encourage CAPITA to take this route ?
You have made no mention of the changes that some some customers would want that would seriously impact in a negative way on other customers. (I often very vigorously oppose some CRs that request changes to procedures, for legitimate reasons! Nor have you mentioned about the fact that what some customers would want may be at variance with the demands of external agencies such as the DfE. Such demands are often very late in being delivered to Capita as we regularly see when new Upgrades are released Maybe that is just two basic reasons that Capita consult their customers via Software Consultation Group meetings whereas other organisations might not follow that route!Unless you attend such meetings to see what discussions do take place then I think it is unfair to knock such a system (and apologies to you if you do participate!)
Last edited by Sivadam; 9th August 2011 at 01:29 PM. Reason: Still not behaving for posting, though showing better!
Sivadam, I'm not having a go, so forgive me if I've given that impression.
I did say that I have abbreviated the process (so as not to bore folk too much ), so yes there are many considerations that have to be catered for. However the process did work extremely well (and still does as far as I know). It would seem a much more responsive system to the one that I can see at the moment, although to be fair I am still very new to all this and am finding my way around, so I very much appreciate your time in all of this.
I would be very happy to participate in the Group meetings, if you can tell me when and where they are please.
The system does, in a way, work as you suggest. It does need some improvement however and Capita are well aware of this - especially in the CR area. The problem is that nearly 22,000 schools use SIMS in thousands of different ways. Contrary to many opinions that appear in some Forums, SIMS is a extremely flexible system that allows schools to configure it in a way that suits their own school best. If it were 'tied down', an expression that some un-enlightend critics use, then it would be far easier to follow the pattern that you suggest. As for contributing - the Software Consultation meetings are always advertised on SupportNet for any User or LA Support Unit to apply to attend. If the numbers that do apply are too high then Capita 'select' participants that will represent as wide a view as possible. They would also favour those that they know are high-end users of SIMS. You can also apply to take part in UAT, where schools and LAs trial new updates in advance of them being released. This is becoming easier to do now that UAT can be carried out on-line. Again, see SupportNet for details - there is a Sticky Item about this on the Homepage of SupportNet.
Last edited by Sivadam; 9th August 2011 at 11:01 AM.
Although it doesn't sound straight-forward to be allowed to attend, I will certainly try to get into the next Change Request meeting.
I'm not sure what you mean by "tied-down" (we used to use "functionally stabilised") but I can only agree that anything is easier to support if the number of changes is limited. However, the very sketchy process that I outlined did support a number of global products used by a very large number of customers in a myriad of ways, so I think there is a lot of similarity here.
Let me reiterate that I'm not having a (non-constructive) pop at SIMS. It's clearly very powerful and flexible, but like anything it's not without problem. I'm just seeking a way of getting problems resolved, without relying on 199 other people being aware of my problem and agreeing that it is a problem before CAPITA will even look at it
I'll have a look on the CAPITA SupportNet to find out about the Change Request meetings.
Thanks again for your help
Maybe we are talking at cross purposes. Solving Problems with the software and Change Requests are slightly different. If there is a problem with the actual functionality of the Software then Capita Support will react to this accordingly. CRs are exactly what they say they are and so need discussion as to whether they really are enhancements to the system. You would be surprised how an 'improvement' to the software for one (or more) schools could be seen as a 'degradation' of the functionality to others. I have been there many times before! And I do appreciate that you are being constructive in your criticisms. My use of 'tied-down' was aimed at those that have used this term before when knocking the SIMS software when, in fact, the reverse is true!
Last edited by Sivadam; 9th August 2011 at 01:29 PM.
Perhaps we're in the grey area between bug-fixing and problems caused by lack of functionality ? In my particular case here, I have a problem (anyone can delete detention records without any trace) which is caused (from my uninformed viewpoint) by functionality that is missing (ie security that enables only a certain set of people to be able to define and delete detention records).
Can you help me here please by confirming (or otherwise) that this kind of issue should be dealt with via the Change Request process? And if it's the wrong process, which process should I use and how do I do it ?
Once again - many thanks for your help
In this case the software is behaving as it was designed to and many many schools are happy with that so this isn't a bug in our terms. A change request to the effect that a school should be able to restrict this operation would be the right course. I think its likely that we will review the behaviour area over the next 12 months.
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