Oh Dear! :(
I hope that this is not like the situation I have seen, spoken to, and helped in some other schools!
They had some users who knew how parts of SIMS worked and others who knew how other parts of SIMS worked. The trouble was they had nobody who understood the whole system and the implications of changing one section of SIMS on other parts of SIMS. Sometimes even Capita have problems with this issue when one of their development teams makes changes/updates to their areas. Hopefully, the various stages of the testing cycle pick the anomalies up, but I know of occasions when the implications have only been seen up by users such as myself, at UAT meetings/workshops!
And this is not aimed at you or your team personally. I know that there are some excellent support teans out there! :)
That's why I use the "Team" word. As opposed to individuals. We work well as a team and do have an overview of SIMS.
SIMS is now a very comprehensive program, in my view, no one person can support the whole well. A support team cannot be a user team. We know how to fix it, install it, stop it from breaking etc. We also know how to use it properly. What we do need to know, that a user doesn't, is how to put it right after a user or establishment has gone of and done something weird and wonderful that it was not intended for or good practice to do.
A support team is just that, a team that supports. Anything else would be a user team who do the work on behalf of the schools. Unfortunately as I have said on here before, schools do not allow people to be trained, on courses that they have paid for in their annual payments. That is why a support team is needed, I sometimes think it would be more productive to do the work remotely for some schools.... but there you go.
back on topic please :-)
Yes, back to the fact that the whole pricing thing doesn't seem to mesh with EU exhaustion rights, and the pricing doesn't make sense that it is so expensive, nor the comments that they've had to invest heavily.
Well we've won 4 out of the last 5 tenders; 3 LAs are changing to SIMS. This has increased our market share quite a lot over the last 12 months so I'm confident that we are offering good value compared to others in the market.
The whole academy movement has created massive costs - its not only software changes, its account managerment & infrastructure changes etc. There are already 4* as many academies as there were LAs. LAs are a very cost effective way of dealing with collection of revenue etc and I'm afarid dealing with individual schools costs much more. This isn't a political statement just a fact.
I don't disagree that having to handle so many more customers increases your costs, I'm talking about the scale of the costs and the cost of the licenses in relation to that. Look at it this way. You say you've put in over 7 figures of investment now. Fine. To recoup that cost, you'd need to get roughly 115 schools to sign up (going by 1.5mill estimate, and 12k per school roughly.
Now, add in that you want to make a profit (which is fair), and say you go with a very nice profit of 30%, that means you'd need about 150 schools to manage that.
So, considering the number of schools becoming academies, the profit margins here seem to be far higher than anything I've seen in any other industry. It just screams 'profiteering' to many of us, as that article that came out points out. £12k for a license is simply not a number that matches up with costs from what we can see!
Has DfES (or anyone on this forum) actually made a complaint to the EU about Capita?
Capita only changes their behaviour when there is a risk of them being prosecuted, as per the case of the Bromcomm complaint to the Office of Fair Trading - When they were in breach of the 1998 Competition Act (Capita are alleged to have made a cool £75m out of their illegal activity)
I suspect they will just carry on until someone challenges them in the courts.
In March 2002, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) opened an investigation into the terms
by which Capita Business Services Limited (Capita) offered interface information to
third parties to provide access to data on Capita's Microsoft SQL Server and the
technical method adopted for such access.
Capita's Microsoft SQL Server forms a key part of its school information management
system (branded as 'SIMS') and contains various data relating to staff and pupils (such
as the grades and attendance of pupils), room allocation/timetables, as well as data
necessary that schools are required to keep for legal and policy reasons.
School information management systems are installed in the majority of primary and
secondary schools throughout the UK, of which Capita's SIMS is by far the most
prevalent. Under Capita's business model, schools license a number of 'modules',
which effectively sit on top of Capita's Microsoft SQL Server, enabling schools to
extract and input data which they view on a fixed network of computers within the
school. For example, with Capita's attendance module, teachers can enter lesson
attendance marks in their classroom, and can see the day's registration marks and
previous lesson attendance, on screen by accessing attendance related data on Capita's
Microsoft SQL Server. Schools using SIMS can also purchase a number of third party
products which may offer improved or complementary functionality to Capita's
Bromcom Computers plc (Bromcom) developed a wireless attendance product which
required interface information to access the attendance related data on Capita's
Microsoft SQL Server. Until Capita's decision to migrate to Microsoft SQL Server, the
Bromcom had the necessary interface information, enabling it to compete with Capita's
own attendance module.
Given Capita's stable and high market share in the schools information management
system sector generally, the presence of entry barriers such as high switching costs for
schools, the generally risk averse and financially constrained nature of schools as
purchasers and the low market shares of competitors, the OFT decided it had
reasonable grounds for suspecting Capita was dominant. Given that Capita was able to
control or prevent access to such data, it could potentially limit innovation and choice
by excluding competition between Bromcom's products and Capita's own modules.
Bromcom alleged that Capita was abusing its dominant position by constructively
refusing to supply interface information to enable access to the attendance related data
by offering an interface at an unreasonable price and on inadequate terms (namely that
the technical method of access was inappropriate for Bromcom's product). Bromcom
further alleged that Capita sought to tie the provision of such interface information with
the supply of an interface written and charged for by Capita. Bromcom predominantly
focussed on interface information which accessed attendance related data on the
Microsoft SQL Server. Although Bromcom had also sought relief in relation to interface
information accessing such data on Capita's Microsoft SQL Server as the Complainant
'may reasonably require', Bromcom only subsequently confirmed this by widening its
complaint to cover interface information which accessed the entire range of data on
Capita's Microsoft SQL Server at a reasonable price and on adequate terms.
The OFT considered the appropriateness of the technical method of accessing Capita's
Microsoft SQL Server used by Capita and the nature of the interface offered to
Bromcom to access Capita's Microsoft SQL Server.
The OFT, assisted by an independent IT Expert, initially concluded that, whilst Capita
used an appropriate technical method of access, there were competition concerns
about making the availability of the necessary interface information to use this method
of access conditional on the supply of an interface written and charged for by Capita.
When informed of the OFT's initial conclusions, Capita offered voluntary assurances
covering the disclosure to Bromcom of interface information to enable access to data
on Capita's Microsoft SQL Server, subject to the agreement of commercial terms2.
Following receipt of the Voluntary Assurances, the Office believes its competition
concerns have been allayed and has subsequently closed its investigation.
We had talks with the DfE last year and have another session booked. When we spoke to them they expected 200 academies but of course that number has increased. We will see what comes out from our discussions.
CyberNerd, what exactly do you mean when you say "When they were in breach"? We haven't been in breach at any point. As for the £75m story, that was pure fiction. One of the other complaints was that our licences were too cheap by the way!
The £75M story is here:
£75 MILLION ‘CREAMED’ FROM SCHOOLS - Education Today