We are an independent school looking to change our MIS. We are currently using Schoolbase however this does not meet all of our requirements on the financial side of things.
We have meetings with three companies coming up which are SIMS, iSAMS and WCBS PASS.
What do you think of these companies and what is there support like?
Yeh can only comment on Sims which will be the most popular.
Its a great bit of software but some of their software engineering decisions have been poor such as SLG(parent access) being based on sharepoint and a slow loading client with many many bugs (which in fairness do get fixed eventually).
We use SIMS here (and are Indy too). I think it's great but I also put the time and effort into understanding and using the system to it's potential reather than fighting it because it's not pen and paper. Downsides for me to SIMS are, at the minute, reporting. It's good, powerfull, and easy (with a bit of training) but can be confusing for the novice when you are choosing what data you want it the report as you need to know which section it's in, though I guess this would be the same with any package.
We also use WCBS for our finance as the Bursar decided he didn't like Capita's implimentation (though they have changed it since we made that decision a number of years ago).
I'd say I spend more time on the phone to WCBS despite us using SIMS more extensively, I certainly put more updates on. Not sure who's support I prefer a it's easier to get through to a techncial expert with WCBS but the fact that I have to phone them more is a worry, plus if you get through to the right people at Capita they fill me with more confidence.
Having seen both I think I prefer SIMS but I've not used the new finance or WCBS student info. Though that oppinion might be slightly tainted by the fact that I have used SIMS a lot.
Our Director of studdies has come from a school that uses iSAMS and feels it's the best thing ever!! (TM) and keeps making these references to looking at changing. Something I am dramatically opposed to for a number of reasons. Not because of any issues with iSAMS (which I have never used) but due to the cost and disruption and my personal belief that actually all systems, after prolonged use, are mostly the same. SIMS may be better in some areas than iSAMS but iSAMS will be better in other areas than SIMS. After prolonged use you know all the in's and outs and what you can and can't do you jsut get on with it.
iSams purports to work well for independent.
If you send me a message, I would be happy to chat on the phone about iSAMS. Have you done any type of a requirements definition? How are you going to select which package is right for you? Just wondering.
I've not worked with SIMS FMS for a few years now, but when I did (in 2008) it was awful. Their support mechanisms also seem to be utterly brain-dead: I remember losing 15 hours of my life running their migration tool for going from Paradox to MS-SQL and the entire thing was written with no exception handling, so when it bombed out we lost 2.5hrs progress of data migration and got no error message to tell us why. This happened 3 times, to the befuddlement of the Capita support desk, before I nailed the SQL trace and found there was a public key violation in the original data, because the db schemas differed and that wasn't accounted for in the migration tool. Genius.
As far as I am aware, SIMS also does not give you any ODBC access to the backend for running your own reports against it (please correct me if this has changed). I would seriously miss this feature if I didn't have it.
WCBS PASS is what we have in my current school. PASS isn't too bad, though it has some... interesting... security issues. Their web version (3Sys) is not so great, because it is largely unfinished and poorly tested. As a result I spend far too much time troubleshooting issues with it than I would like. I know just last week there was a thread about a school migrating from PASS to iSAMS so it might be worth asking them what their reasons were.
@AngryTechnician - scarred for life then. Perhaps you can claim compensation from the LA
Thanks everyone for your input. We will be meeting up with the three companies in the next few weeks to see if they fulfil our requirements. iSAMS seems like its the one we may go for at the moment as it integrates with sage200 which we are already using.
Sorry to throw another in but have you looked at and considered Serco Facility? I know that has a following in the Independent sector, and now is a good time to be looking at Facility as they have a new product which will replace it eventually called Progresso which is a very impressive bit of kit
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