In March, we at Bromcom proudly announced alongside West Sussex County Council that we will be supplying school MIS, Finance and Budgeting software to over 200 maintained schools in West Sussex, in what is an unprecedented deal.

It is the first time ever that a Local Authority has moved its schools wholesale from the legacy SIMS and FMS6 software to a cloud-based MIS and finance solution. After a rigorous procurement process was completed via the Government’s G-Cloud Framework, West Sussex County Council and the Schools Forum Strategic Steering Group selected Bromcom’s “One-Stop-Shop” offering for MIS, Finance and Budgeting software. Bromcom stood apart from the competition, as the West Sussex schools piloted a range of software from different suppliers and their feedback contributed to the final decision to award the contract.

In recent years, the MIS industry has heated up. More and more schools are becoming disillusioned with their current MIS supplier and have in turn decided to switch to a modern, cloud-based option such as Bromcom. There are numerous factors driving the surge in cloud-based MIS systems, including improved functionality, cost saving, and the need for more reliability and security. These are just some of the reasons why more and more schools, MATs and Local Authorities are switching to Bromcom.

For decades, legacy server-based software systems have dominated the industry. However, there has been sentiment for some time now that these providers haven’t progressed and kept up with the demands of modern education. A common complaint we hear of our customers’ previous MIS system is that it is clunky, difficult to navigate or work with. For many schools, especially those in the West Sussex Schools Forum, there is a desire for progress. With Bromcom, the opportunities for automation (and in turn workload reduction), tailored analysis, flexibility and compatibility are a far cry from the legacy MIS option.

Unprecedented size and scope

Bromcom has previously worked with local authorities, including Telford and Wrekin Council, North Yorkshire County Council, Hackney Council, and the Kent Commercial Services framework in late 2021. However, our partnership with West Sussex County Council is unprecedented in its size and scope with a single supplier.

Initially, it was Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) that led the way in the take up of Bromcom’s cloud-based MIS and Finance software in the early 2010s. MATs of all sizes, including Ark Academy, Oasis Community Learning, and Harris Academies have selected Bromcom as their chosen cloud MIS supplier. Bromcom currently leads the way as a cloud MIS supplier for large MATs, with a majority share of the market. Now, with 200+ West Sussex schools, it is clear that Bromcom is the number one choice for large trusts and local authorities alike that want to bring students to the forefront of data.

A common barrier in the minds of many school leaders when it comes to switching MIS is that it’s difficult to change to a new supplier. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Bromcom. Having announced the contract in March, Bromcom’s rapid rollout will see the deployment of MIS, Finance and Budgeting software to all schools, completed by the end of July.

Rollout of Bromcom MIS is quick and easy, after reaching out we can have you set up within a matter of weeks. Following a discovery call with our onboarding team, timelines will be agreed, and trainings, webinars and data migration will commence.

Taking the lead

We believe that West Sussex County Council have broken new ground and set an example for other local authorities to follow suit, with a thorough procurement process which included significant school involvement and buy in. The West Sussex Schools Forum and the action group that was formed to discuss the future of MIS and Finance across the county, was an ambitious and innovative approach to selecting the appropriate MIS for the school.

As a part of the search for an MIS, a selection of schools piloted different solutions. Bromcom worked with several schools and offered a variety of different options to ensure that they could have a realistic trial of the software. This ranged from running Bromcom MIS side by side with an existing system, to a full migratory switch over. This meant that schools were able appropriately test the software to see what best suited their particular needs.

Piloting an MIS on the behalf of an entire school community is by no means an easy task. It was massively important for schools to be supported through this process and indeed through any migration. The participants of the pilot gave unanimously positive feedback, with each school reporting that the pilot offered them a great opportunity to explore the software.

Judith McManus from Ifield Community College was able to use Bromcom alongside their previous system, and this allowed her to make direct comparisons with what was in use at the school and how thing could be done differently with Bromcom. It’s a rare opportunity for schools to get the chance to contrast two ways of working. It allows for the evaluation of features in real life scenarios. Judith said,

“It opens up opportunities and options, and makes you think about whether you could do something a bit differently.

As well as having the support of Bromcom, the pilot schools were also there to support each other throughout the process, collaboration and support has been a part of the schools’ ways of working for many years now. Taking this into account, rolling out a single MIS across the county would mean that the support structure can be highly effective.

In piloting Bromcom and getting to grips with the different features, Karen Done from Nyewood CofE Infant School took the lead in introducing elements of the software to different staff members. The responders were surprised and impressed with what Bromcom could do. The attendance officer, for instance, thought they were particularly wedded to their third-party analysis reports which came from their existing MIS and wanted to ensure they could continue using this with Bromcom. However, after seeing the Attendance Dashboard in their Bromcom pilot system, she was immediately impressed. The same key metrics were available, but the Bromcom dashboard was able to take the analysis a step further, with graphs and timelines to help gain a greater understanding of where the issues were.

Throughout the pilot, it was made apparent to Karen just how much they were spending on their current MIS along with the additional software and outlays required – and in turn how much they would save by switching to Bromcom. “Ultimately, the savings are huge for schools… Bromcom could potentially save us £25,000 a school… That is two TAs, or nearly a teacher’s salary.” In her eyes, this is money that feeds into county budgets and helps to fund services such as the SEND provision. A valid point, considering how much SEND budgets are feeling squeezed across the country. Bromcom’s One-Stop-Shop comes ready with applications such as My Child at School, Parents Evening booking system, seating plans, safeguarding modules, integrated Power BI and more, meaning that you can save money on third-party software tools.

What can Bromcom MIS do for your organisation

Fundamentally, teachers, school leaders, and school admin staff all have the same goal – to support, nourish and further the education of their students. With the pressures that are on school staff today, it is important that their school management software makes their lives easier – not harder. With Bromcom’s MIS, workloads are reduced, processes are simplified, and costs can be saved. If that piques your interest, get in touch with us to find out how Bromcom could help your organisation.

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