hello all. I've been reading this thread with interest. I hate SIMS quite a lot. Are there any viable alternatives at all? If anyone knows of any options worth researching, can you share?
A key thing you need to look at is the benefits to Teaching and Learning that a change of MIS will bring, fine you may see it like changing from Windows XP to Windows 7, but there will be many thousands of pounds associated costs with changing MIS system that are not obvious such as staff training, support, time to transfer and setup what you already had in SIMS in whatever new program (such as custom lists, custom reports etc things that are not always portable between MIS Systems) it needs to have full school backing and support and it will be a 2 or 3 year program of transition IMHO. If you run before you can walk in your new MIS you will get a mess, which I have seen happen and we are still mopping up some of those messes now (yes we ran before we could walk moving from no real MIS / limited Integris to a full blown MIS setup!) its been a painful few months as we had to make some hard choices to fix some core issues we had made but that was down to running when we should have been gently strolling, but we are now on the up.
If you are serious about change, have you been to see schools / know schools that use other products already, its alright seeing the shiny brochures from the vendors, but you should find some schools and ask them about it, on here is a good place to start we have a mix of MIS users, although you will find that the majority are SIMS, but I can think of about a dozen Serco users and I'm sure we must have some Integris people on here somewhere lurking in the depths of Edugeek.
Also, I have no doubt that most of the SIMS Partnerships Schools/Academies would also welcome you to visit and view how they have SIMS setup successfully within their schools.
Most of the major MIS software companies no doubt have very complex systems and understanding the whole of any MIS can be difficult without that overall knowledge. Apologies if this is not true with your school though I would suspect that this is the case!
Well firstly I'm loking at SIMS from a users perspective (i.e. a humble teacher), I'm not a data manager or similar. And I suppose hate is too strong a word. But I do find the useability of sims a bit frustrating to say the least, 'non-intuitive' would cover it. I think I'm a bit anti-capita too - I had the misfortune of extracating a school from a miss-sold VLE package made by Capita. I get the same feeling whenever I'm using SIMS - this could be better!
I just think that for general day to day teaching use, its a bit inflexible. Its also expensive, and this goes back the the VLE experience- the school I worked for then was paying an awful lot for a system that didnt do what it should - and the move to Moodle was a blessing in that particular circumstance. I guess what my first posting was intended to do was not seek help with SIMS issues, but really explore wether there are any viable alternatives:
1. Save a significant ammount of money
2. Be user friendly enough to make the re-training/re-integration simple/smooth for your 'average user'.
3. Keep the functionality which I will never have a full handle on, but which the data experts need.
thanks to the previous two responses- I'm always overwhelmed and grateful that people take the time to offer advice in such a friendly and timely manner.
to sum up,(and its probably more illustrative of what I'm getting at more than anything) if there was an equivalent product to our Moodle VLE that might be an option for a school MIS, then I would be interested in exploring it...... I hope this last bit makes sense.
There are very many teachers in our school who have experienced other MIS packages in previous schools who are delighted with SIMS and what it can do for teaching staff in terms of T&L.
That is not knocking those other systems - maybe they were not set up to efficiently deliver what our SIMS system is set up to deliver.
Inflexible is the last word to use re. SIMS - flexibility is one of it's strengths. It is far more configurable than some other systems! What do you want it to do that it can't do that others can?
And Moodle ain't an MIS!
Basic core SIMS is pretty cheap, it's when you start adding on all the extras, that's when it becomes expensive. Unfortunately, Capita sales people are pretty good at selling the extras so SIMS appears £££.
I know there is a company (Core?) selling SIMS web parts as part of a VLE solution - based on Sharepoint.
And he didn't say Moodle was an MIS, he stated that he'd helped a school move from a Capita sold VLE to Moodle.
Here we go again!
Maybe I can get my Red Squares back up again! :D
My reputation was disintegrating!
I am suspicious of every new user who attacks SIMS for no good reason. History has pointed to the fact that are are 'mischievous' posters on here.
There has to be a reason why one 'hates' software!
Apologies to the OP if this does not apply to him/her!
In defence of Sivadam ...
If someone doesn't like a product (The OP states he hates SIMS) then it is helpful to understand what they hate as other products may do the exact same.
It is better to state the full requirements for the software, highlight differences between commonly used products and move on.
Originally Posted by MShakeshaft
Be tempting, just what would we get if he fails, other then a big grin from the big MIS players
Ok, putting aside the word 'hate' ... the general MIS products out there are CMIS, Integris, E1 and now we have a few FOSS offerings too.
Most do pretty much the same thing, with emphasis on particular areas. CMIS does rely on the setup being right in the first place, and it is heavily configurable with permissions, but I still feel it is a bit clunky in the look and feel. Most people will make use of ePortal (the web front-end for it) anyway ... but I never found the generation of reports as easy as it was in SIMS. I don't have enough experience of E1, Integris or the FOSS offerings to be able to give a really god review of them, but I would suggest that BETT might be a good place for you to go to, to see them all side by side.
Make sure that you have a really good outline of your requirements, from a user's and a manager's point of view ... think not just about how easy it needs to be to input or view data, but also how the data might be re-used or cross-referenced / analysed. Also think about other products which may sit by the side or on top of the MIS. Moodle and Sharepoint is good examples of this, where there are products which can make use of the data in the MIS to improve how you use these products. There may be other products which can site on top of the MIS (SIMS examples only at the moment ...) such as Brommcom, PARS, etc which can add more functionality or a better look and feel.