iSAMS provide a modular and hosted MIS for Lincoln UTC
one year before opening
Lincoln University Technical College (UTC) is set to open its doors to 14-18 year old students in September 2014. One year ahead of schedule is the implementation of its MIS system, iSAMS.
Dr Rona Mackenzie is Principal at the UTC and has been working tirelessly
throughout 2013 to set up the organisation’s infrastructure and recruit 260 students and numerous members of teaching staff, among other key tasks still on her long ‘to do’ list.
Choosing the right MIS system
Having previously worked in six schools across the country and having held a variety of senior leadership posts and responsibilities, Dr Mackenzie had a clear idea of the type of MIS she wanted, as well as what she didn’t want! Her search began by approaching the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for a list of approved providers. She enlisted a number of companies to provide demonstrations and she recommended iSAMS.
When the iSAMS team ran through the first demo on the telephone, Rona could see from a glance that it was easy-to-use and it didn’t rely on extensive training; both key requisites for a new start-up organisation such as Lincoln UTC. Rona was also able to see a mocked up school within iSAMS during the demo which gave her the opportunity to see the system in action. When peers confirmed that iSAMS was as good as she had initially perceived the decision was made – even more so when Rona discussed her specific requirements with the iSAMs team and they were flexible in their approach to create this for her.
Of course Dr Mackenzie does not need a fully functioning MIS system running one yearbefore the students arrive – and in addition the organisation has no buildings or hardware on which to base iSAMS. What the Principal therefore needed this year was a cloud-based solution, hosted by iSAMS, with the option of scaled back functionality (and costs) mainly to support student and staff recruitment in the run up to the opening date. Dr Mackenzie will use only the elements she needs in 2013 and will continue to use further modules as the opening date draws near – and into the future when the UTC is open.
“I have access to the full package but I am just choosing to use it as I need to,” she says.
“The benefit is that there are no add- on modules so I can use the facilities I want.”
For now, Dr Mackenzie predominantly uses the Admissions module which at this stage is particularly useful for tracking student recruitment when attending marketing events or formally meeting parents and students in the community, where she can instantly input student and parent data using her tablet device. She says:
“This is an incredibly critical year for the UTC and being able to maintain and track recruitment all in one place – and easily manage and see all communications to students and parents is a major advantage.”
Significant cost savings
The scalable implementation is also ideal for Lincoln UTC in terms of budget which is limited during this year before launch; iSAMS support Rona with a reduced fee at this time.
Additionally, Dr Mackenzie is making significant cost savings on printing and postage while maintaining contact with students and parents during 2013/2014.
“It’s very important to keep the students we have recruited in the loop as the UTC develops,” she says. “iSAMS helps us to do this more regularly without spending money on physically sending out information.”
Rona also found that competing MIS systems also came with hidden costs which iSAMS did not. “With iSAMS the costs are plain and simple,” she says.
don’t be afraid to change if you don’t understand or
can’t use your MIS properly.
Why iSAMS for a UTC?
Dr Mackenzie lists the top benefits of using iSAMS in a UTC environment as being:
- The improvements to school data: now accessible in real-time, easily manageable and all in one place
- Reporting: previously stressful, but now simple – and students can also comment on their own reports within the system
- The Parent Portal: great for parents who often live far away from the school
- The SMS system: allows quick and easy communication with parents (this was beneficial during the snowy weather of 2013)
- Time savings: ideal for school staff who previously spent hours trying to extract information from an ineffective system
- Cost savings: in terms of the MIS itself and also in terms of printing/paper costs and postage
- Everything is managed and distributed online: no more piles of paper or missing information
“As a complete package iSAMS ticks every single box. It is great value for money, it’s intuitive and it’s easy to use. It’s the perfect solution,” says Rona.
A company that flexes to requirements
Rona has had specific requirements that iSAMS have been happy to adapt to. “They have been flexible with the needs of the UTC from the very beginning,” she says. “They are a part of this growing and evolving journey and have been receptive to my requests and feedback. They have developed a product that is fit for purpose and I have confidence that they will move forward and evolve with us.”
iSAMS have also provided Dr Mackenzie with the training she needs in year one. She took part in a tailored session with an iSAMS trainer and was able to import her student data into the system – with the trainer supporting her – available to step in and provide help if required. The new staff at Lincoln UTC will also take part in iSAMS training as and when they are recruited.
“We will have no time to waste,” says Rona, “so we plan to train different staff members firstly on only the modules that are most relevant to them. Very quickly they will all be conversant with the entire package and able to make full and effective use of iSAMS.” Rona is convinced that her staff will need very little training because iSAMS is so simple to use.
Rona’s advice to other organisations is “irrespective of how long you have been open for, don’t be afraid to change if you don’t understand or can’t use your MIS properly. It makes sense – or you could prevent your whole school from being effective.”
feel like you matter.
A hosted, developmental approach
The next steps at Lincoln UTC are to implement the Tracking Manager, Timetable Manager and Teaching Manager modules within iSAMS. Rona plans to enter the student baseline data ahead of opening which will provide the ability to track progress over time, as well as populating staff data and timetabling. “The picture will build as the year goes by,” she comments.
“With iSAMS you are just ready to roll. It’s reassuring. We have seen the benefits of adopting a hosted, developmental approach during this run up to opening. When we do open I envisage it will be seamless, with iSAMS alongside us, supporting us every step of the way.”