Academic achievements are exceedingly important, many of our pupils attend top universities all over the world. We place a great emphasis on fostering strong values; Care, Respect, Effort and Honesty are essential for our pupils’ development as unique individuals.
Looking for an MIS to simplify daily tasks
In many ways our journey with iSAMS reflects the original iSAMS story, particularly how it was born out of schools’ need for a more accessible Management Information System (MIS).
We’d adopted our previous MIS simply because it was seen as the “industry standard” – but for us, as an international bilingual school, it fell far short of the mark. We were growing increasingly frustrated by our old MIS, with our hands tied in so many ways as we were locked into an antiquated way of doing what should and could have been simple tasks.
Besides setting up complex remote access and customised VPNs there was no access to our data off site; even Student Report writing had to be done by ridiculously complex export / import routines. Plus, myself and the Admin staff were becoming just as frustrated by the constant requests for data outputs from teaching staff and managers, as they were having to rely on us for it. I remember thinking “Surely a teacher, manager or administrator should be able to access and output data themselves”!
Now our members of staff have ownership of the modules they use and can access the data they need simply. Our only regret is that we didn’t migrate to iSAMS sooner.
When our Network Manager, Alejandro, first told me about iSAMS, the constant headaches and challenges I was facing with our old system meant that I was too busy to even look at it for some time – but when I did, what a revelation! This was exactly what we needed; a modern web-based system, accessible from anywhere, and providing everyone with an easy way to get the data they need through managing permission levels.
Gone were the days of a Head of Year waiting for someone in Admin to print them a simple Year Group list, or the PE Staff asking me for a complex output report of medical/dietary issues to take with them on a Sports Trip. Now our staff could get all the information they needed themselves and with minimal training. In fact, the more adventurous staff were so excited by this newfound capability they were demonstrating many of the invaluably useful features they had found to one another.
iSAMS provides users across the school with “ownership” of the modules they use and simplifies access to the data they need. iSAMS is truly an MIS for the user, not just a tool for a few overworked Admin staff to have to deal with; our only regret is that we didn’t migrate to iSAMS sooner.
Our migration to iSAMS
Looking back, the migration process was pretty straightforward and we never felt like we were on our own. We didn´t lose any data of any significance and it actually became a great opportunity to clean up and streamline the data we’d accumulated over the past several years.
We did make a couple of silly mistakes on migration, but they were nothing major and could have been avoided had we listened to iSAMS’ advisors, taking into account what we were trying to achieve rather than being too influenced by our old system. As I found myself saying, “If you sell your old Mini and buy a brand new Mercedes, you don’t ask where is the notchy long 1950´s design gearstick, you just change gear – or, in this case, let the car do it for you”!
The migration process was pretty straightforward and we never felt like we were on our own.
For me, the best part of the iSAMS system is that the end-users have ownership of their modules and data. After some initial brief training, I can confidently hand over the management of the modules to relevant staff members and will only need to step in when a rare situation or a “real” problem crops up. This means I’ve saved a huge amount of time, as I no longer need to be constantly involved in the day to day running of simple tasks.
For our teachers and other staff members, even the “Dinosaur” staff (who struggle to embrace new processes and technologies) grew to love it. A big part of this is probably because the full integration of the modules means there’s no more duplication of input or effort.
The modules used most frequently across the school are, of course, Registration Manager, the simplicity of which is very valued by our teachers, and Cover Manager, which makes an essential job as easy as it can be. Markbooks is another module our staff members love, especially compared to what we had previously, as they can now draw data directly from it and even completely automate online assessments – so it’s a real timesaver.
I think if we announced we were returning to the old system we would have a lot of very unhappy people and personally I’d be looking into the details of early retirement!
Even the “Dinosaur” staff grew to love iSAMS – probably because the full integration of the modules means there’s no more duplication of input or effort.
I’ve been quite amazed by iSAMS’ fast response time; an item I had marked as “low importance” was dealt with within an hour or so and even any larger issues are normally sorted promptly.
It’s also rare that we find an issue specific to our own peculiar requirements which iSAMS can’t fix for us instantaneously. Whenever this has happened we’ve turned to User Voice, a platform where schools can vote for new functionalities, and at the very least iSAMS gives us a quick response and offers work arounds if necessary.
I’ve been quite amazed by iSAMS’ fast response time and it’s rare that we find an issue specific to our own peculiar requirements which iSAMS can’t fix for us instantaneously.
All in all…
A real win that has emerged from our use of iSAMS is that our teaching staff and Management Team no longer see data as something that only Admin deals with. They know it’s in their hands and they can easily input or output whatever is needed. This has had a big impact helping them complete their day to day tasks more easily, be it Parent Meetings, Attendance or Behaviour Records, Report Writing and/or Pupil Safety