Off the Shelf or Bespoke MIS
Sorry that this is my first post, but I am looking for a little guidance / advice......
I am the Head of Systems at a private Sixth Form College (Welbeck Defence Sixth Form). Currently we run a bespoke MIS system developed and maintained for us by a developer. I have been asked to re-evaluate the costs / benefits etc against commercial off the shelf MIS systems. One such system that has been mentioned to me is "Agresso" - I have also looked briefly at "DoubleFirst" - obviously there are others out there that are more widely used.
Unfortunately my experience of such systems runs into virtually nothing so I would like to ask the experts here a few questions - there are probably hundreds of questions but I'll stick to the main ones........
1) Do any other schools / college use bespoke MIS Systems?
2) Are products such as Serco / SIMS etc customisable to fit in with a schools routines? For instance our MIS has the following sections that fit in with how we work.....
a) Medical Centre data entry to mark students who should not be doing certain tasks (eg Sports / Swimming / Resting in their room etc) - These automatically link in with class registers to highlight to the staff member that the student is listed on the medical list.
b) Facility to record and analyse Fitness Test results (and publish them to parents)
c) Finance facilities, including billing to parents etc - because of the way that we work separate invoices need to go out for termly fees and termly extras - invoices are similar but have different payment methods.
d) Do they offer (or have the ability) to put students into Tutor Groups / Boarding houses and allocate report writing tasks to tutors and house staff as well as subject teachers?)
e) We use a traffic light system (in 5 categories) to record our students - These are simple Red / Amber / Green values to give us an quick overview of each student.
f) we use a Praise and Concern form for registering student praise and concern - these forms are really useful and are something we do not wish to lose.
3) Do all of the MIS systems offer database access with pretty simple schemas etc? We interface extensively to our main SQL database to provide data / stats / searches etc via our intranet. This is done with a combination of Stored Procedures in the database / database views and native SQL queries.
4) Do all of the MIS systems offer "Parental" access to key data in regard to student progress - We allow parents to see student attendance / student reports / traffic lights / fitness scores etc and will be enhancing this to include praise and concern forms.
5) For those of you using "off the shelf" systems - do you have specific members of staff who are in charge of these systems, either technically or data wise? Do those staff members perform other tasks as well, or are they bespoke MIS people?
Sorry for the long post - but any help woudl be appreciated. Also - If anyone is in the Notts / Loughborough area using a standard package I would love to take a look at them to see them working in real life - I would be happy to provide such a service in return should anyone wish to look at our MIS system.