My school is currently using Facility Administration and we're looking into changing our MIS. We've had a demonstration from Progresso but feedback from other schools is that it doesn't work well, we will also have a demo from SIMS in the near future.
Has anyone else done the change from Facility (or others) to SIMS and if so what were the pros/cons?
What can SIMS offer that Facility doesn't?
We changed from facility to SIMS. I would advise that you get a contract saying that Capita will migrate *all* of your data. They have been known to only migrate certain things, leaving you reliant of facility for some time to come (with an annual cost).
You should get a very clear statement about what we are able to transfer.
or another way of putting it would be "you'll be running facility after the 'transfer'"
Originally Posted by PhilNeal
I worked at Advanced (previously Serco) for about 6 years, and now work in a school just gone from Facility and ePortal to Progresso. The implementation process left a lot to be desired, but seriously improved nearing the end; so I'd hope customers in the future have a better experience now. Performance is dire, though. Reports are currently timing out if ran for more than a few students at a time. This weekend sees a promising massive performance upgrade though as they change the hosting environment; so bear with it.
There are certain areas of the software which leave a lot to be desired and the reality is, that all of the bells and whistles it brings we can't get to because we've struggled for the first few weeks to get even the usual day to day stuff done.
My advice to you would be get various different things demo'd and make sure you speak to people about which data they will transfer; get things in writing regardless of which company you go with - there's a lot of room for interpretation otherwise.
I'll happily post back into next week and let you know how the improvements have done. The day to day stuff has largely been hindered by reports (system reports) and ability to create new ones, or lack thereof. If this were planned for properly you'd be able to alleviate some of that. And if you were moving for the right reasons, then it would be worth it.
Moving MIS is no easy task regardless of where you start or where you finish, it's all about planning and resourcing it correctly.
This is very useful. We are on Facility and had our migration delayed by a year. It sounds like there is still good reason to wait. What I would love to get a sense of though, is whether the 'finished' v1. 0 Progresso will be worth waiting for. I like the principles behind it, but if it's never going to deliver we will have to look again at SIMS.
I'm absolutely confident it will deliver. The reasons we went for it are still there, and they're kind of there now - my point is that you have to be able to do all the day to day stuff before you can add the improvements. It's taken us longer than we expected to get to this stage, and will be a little while longer before we get to the improvements really. I think therefore that as the software improves in terms of performance, that period of bedding in will be faster paced.
What really needs to happen during implementation is you have to look at your daily practices and establish exactly how they will be achieved in Progresso. Plan plenty of time in transition and have the agreement that if you can't maintain or easily work around your daily practices, the transition period will be extended for as long as necessary. It makes it hard for Advanced to plan and resource, but that will make them better at implementation, because they'll have to be in order to keep that period short.
The thing we had the biggest issue with was system reports. I've found one of them useful, the rest I've had to either rewrite from copying it unpicking it and changing, or starting from scratch because some can't be copied (complicated reasons which are legit but not very useful).
Where in the country are you based? I'd be happy to spend a bit of time talking to you when you'd find that useful, and don't mind sharing some of our implementation processes in terms of successes and fails so that you have a better chance. Don't sack it off just yet, but don't go live tomorrow either.
So weigh up the other options in the mean time. But before you do, decide what you want out of it. Don't go in there asking what they can offer. Decide what you want, do some blue sky thinking, and then challenge them with it. It's always good to see what it has to offer so that you're not missing out on new tricks, but if you challenge them, you'll find out how it suits you rather than how it can suit you if you bend to it.
We are waiting on both proper feedback from schools happily using progresso and access to a fully functional demo version of progresso so we can properly evaluate it for ourselves. Neither of which AL seem to be forthcoming with at the moment which speaks for itself really.
Aspen and iSams sounds like they are worth looking at.
I'm in Norfolk, and a chat would be great. Luckily there are 2 local schools that went live at half term so I'm off to visit next week and see for myself. When I tried the demo at Bett last year I found a bug within 5 mins, so I'm hoping it's at least a bit more stable!
Yeh, I can imagine which schools you might be, I dare say I've worked with most of you previously, i've spent a fair bit of time in Norfolk working for Serco / Advanced.
The issue with giving schools access to a demo is it's ok if you give it to someone who knows what they're doing and you have a sandpit with reliable data but it's not the best idea because it only takes someone to misunderstand some functionality or have a lack of knowledge of something and you'll get completely the wrong idea. I guess though if you don't have Facility it's the only option. If you do, and you've enough time on your contract left, get it into transition and see how you go. Though that would require considerable time investment and risk on both parts.
There are still some bugs in there. Word on the street the next sprint release will sort some of those out, and they're getting closer with every sprint release they do, so while there are still issues atleast they're making a fast pace. If next week performance is better then we're in a workable situation, but only due to my own tenacity with creating a bucket of reports and learning it the hard way.
Bear in mind if those schools went live with it half term they'll be a good example of where they're at right now, but bear in mind that it could vary significantly from one to the other and to yourselves depending on local knowledge, planning, time allocated, even expectations, etc etc.
Ideally what you need to see is where those schools are now and their opinion of the experience to date, but then where they are in another 6 months, before making your final decision.
For example, I bet if you came to see me tomorrow, you'd not want it, if you came to see me in another 6 months you'd have no hesitation. I feel that might be the same regardless of what you switch to though; if you've not been through a MIS change before, don't underestimate it! Whenever you want more info just send me a PM and i'll send you back my contact details gladly.
Useful info thanks Michael, I understand AL reservations about giving sites access to a fully functional demo however its the only way for all the staff involved in using an MIS day to day, to get hands on and see what they think. Its easy for AL to demo the product working well in a carefully choreographed session to a load of heads or system managers but I believe the decision to switch MIS should be made by all the staff that have to use it day to day. When some of the other MIS providers will give you a hands on demo you can use once they have gone and access to a range to schools to speak to about there experiences and AL just close the door it doesn't exactly express confidence in the product.
You have to appreciate that not many people will want to move with the assumption that everything will be where it needs to be in 6 months time either.
Absolutely agree with all of that, other than giving all of the users access; key staff who's main role it is to use it, such as cover, whoever looks after student data, whoever manages assessment etc yes, but I think it would be suicide to give access to all of the teaching staff, for example. Certainly here, the role of the teams we have in place is to make informed decisions on the behalf of others, if we asks the teachers for an opinion i'm pretty certain we'd get a fair bit of abuse!
I do agree there should be that kind of environment though, it just has to be communicated and marketed correctly.
In terms of the 6 months thing, I wasn't really talking about the software improvements as such but more that's how long it's going to take us to bed it in as an establishment, by then we'll have gone through a census, work force census, assessment entry, moderation and publishing, behaviour analysis and an exam season. So anything we can't do or are unsure about, that's the period of time it will take to find it :)
I think at the moment you have to assume if it doesn't work in the demo or isn't how it should be, then that will always be the case. An estimated fix / change time, to me, is only ever worth the paper it's written on if there's a specific financial clause / penalty related to it in the contract.
Thank you for your responses. We have a demonstration booked in for mid december so will be interesting to see what they offer.
One thing I will report back is that since moving the environment it does seem to be loading pages faster. Clicking around and doing various different tasks and processes, lots are faster and now perfectly acceptable, there are a few which are still slower than would be liked but workable, but there's another release due soon which aims to tackle those bits. I've got over most of my reporting niggles now, but it's a learning curve. I've got the first assessment window coming up mid december so will let you know how that fairs.
Originally Posted by michael2k6
I'm doing a bit of research for a new school. I work at an Academy using Facility and we were due to go live on Progresso in May 2012 but pulled the plug because we were so concerned.
The new school opens in September and they are currently looking at Progresso or SIMS.
What's your opinion about Progresso for a brand new school with no history and not going live for a while?