Choosing an MIS with Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School
Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School is a selective academy in Lincolnshire, bordering the counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland. Their approach is to provide an environment that allows every student to fully develop her intellectual and personal qualities and to acquire the knowledge, skills, confidence and flexibility to play an active, responsible part in a changing world. We spoke to Matt Dovey, Network Manager at Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, about how they went about choosing a new MIS.
Selecting a new MIS supplier
We looked at a number of suppliers: Progresso, SIMS, Bromcom and Arbor. We looked at Progresso, which is now called Cloud School, because they’re the incumbent (with FacilityCMIS) and we thought it would make the migration easier because there’s only one party responsible. Then we also looked at SIMS, because our new Head who started in September had just come from a SIMS school, with a background “all things SIMS”. They came in first and I’m very happy to say that as soon as we then spoke to Bromcom, SIMS was disregarded at the first stage as there would have been no benefits in the school changing to this product. You can’t access SIMS remotely without a great deal of grief: it’s not really set up to support over the Internet. It was out of the frying pan into the fire, basically.
They’re still talking about SIMS 8, which is meant to be coming out in two years.
I did ask on EduGeek about how long they’ve been saying the Cloud version’s coming up and for three or four years they’ve been saying it’s two years away.
SIMS did do everything that CMIS did, and did some perspective did a lot of things a lot worse like having to update every workstation every time there’s a new release instead of, like with CMIS, just updating ePortal.
The next suppliers in the process were Arbor and then Progresso. Arbor looked good in the regard that it was built specifically for the cloud and was approaching things from a fresh angle. But we were looking for a system that was able to support us in every aspect of running our school, and Arbor just didn’t have everything in the backend that we needed, and as a big secondary school with 1200 kids we kind of need everything. We cover a lot of things. The guided help impressed a lot of people in the way it talks you through everything. And then we saw Progresso, within half an hour of the Progresso demo starting, I knew that it wasn’t going to be it. Progresso is not as feature complete as Bromcom and still relies on third-party services, and then what is there is just not quite as useable; everything’s buried behind menus. There’s not as much
colour and it doesn’t guide you about, and the interface isn’t as flexible. When it came to seeing Bromcom, we were immediately impressed, it blew SIMS out. Even the Head who had come from a SIMS school, and even his partner uses SIMS, he was like, no there’s no point in going to SIMS, it’s definitely out of the question now.
Everyone, independently, liked Bromcom best. Decision made. Purchase order submitted.
What impressed everybody with the demonstration was how Jason always knew why a new feature had been added, this gave a good impression of a flexible company who understands and develops when customers ask for something, that’s not just to our benefit, it also improves your product, making it easier to sell to the next person, and improves your business as well. So, it’s to everybody’s benefit if we feedback something we would like. In contrast, SIMS Capita aren’t going to respond to anybody; Capita are just like it or lump it, aren’t they? Also with Bromcom, on the interface, the guided help impressed a lot of people in the way it talks you through everything, not just like a, “Oh, hey, here’s a link to a step-by-step guide on another page,” but almost interactively guided you through the process of actually doing it so you could do it with your hand held. I’ve been using the global search so much to find where I’m looking for different things, and it’s proved the only way I navigate all the menus and set-up pages. I can guess what something’s called and I just type that in the global search. So that’s an absolute Godsend, I love that bit.