MIS is a crucial piece of the SBM puzzle. A comprehensive solution, it covers core database, statutory returns, timetabling, behaviour management, extra-curricular management, assessments and tracking, text and email, parents’ evenings, online portals for staff, parents and students plus much, much more. Our experts explore some challenges, solutions and what the future holds for MIS.
These days management information systems – MIS – are as familiar to SBMs as the sound of a school bell; this once unchartered territory has become a well-trodden path. For those interested in more than a basic understanding of what’s on offer – and keen to learn about what the future holds – an assessment of current trends and developments is worthwhile. Two distinct options have, traditionally, been preferred when working with MIS – a ‘one stop shop’ option and a general model. The first option allows users to gather all data together in a single space and to use it to perform the full range of administrative and financial tasks. “This saves heaps of time, especially as lots of modern systems now offer communications, staffing and pupil data all in one place,” says David Collins, project manager at Scholar Pack. In contrast, the general model requires MIS to integrate with other back office and/or financial software.
Challenges and solutions
Perhaps, however, it’s the dependence on technology in recent years that’s the most significant development for SBMs considering updating their MIS package or, indeed, thinking of switching provider. Put simply, the reliability of a user-friendly and efficient package can’t be underestimated. It’s with some trepidation, then, that SBMs will view a switch and may well be nervous of the future. For example, will an upgrade disrupt infrastructure and essential financial functioning and timetabling? How can existing data be protected from the possibility of loss prior to migration to a new system? Geoff Chandler, managing director at Moxton Education, explains that another key challenge is the so-called ‘cost of change’. “This expenditure is the hidden one that increases MIS costs above and beyond the licencing and any hardware that maybe needed,” he says. “For example, as MIS has become more widely used in schools it’s no longer just the domain of the school business manager; most school staff will regularly interact with the system. Thus, many staff need to be re-trained – and quickly – so that the school can stay operational and information effective; the cost of releasing staff to do this must also be factored in.”
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