As with any financial commitment, it is good practice to review your school’s contracts on a regular basis and MIS is no exception to this. In the current financial climate, the cost is important, but there are other factors that should be considered too.
From the very earliest stage of the process, before a decision is made, it is key to engage with stakeholders in your school – start the change-management process early. Staff that are involved and invested in a potential change will be far more open to new ideas if you do ultimately decide to make a switch of MIS.
Nominate someone to drive the project from the very beginning, having an advocate in place from the start will help smooth the journey. Take a whole-school view, speak to everyone that uses your MIS – does it suit their needs? What changes would they make if they could? Identifying the pain-points of various interested parties in school might throw up a common theme. Encourage users to take a step back and think about their processes – are they the most efficient they could be, or are they dictated by the tools available? For some schools, staying with their existing MIS will be the right choice, for others, moving to a cloud-based MIS will be appropriate. So, what should you be thinking about when reviewing your MIS contract and considering a move to the cloud? Here are just 3 (of many):
- Price – what is the total cost of ownership? This will include the MIS licence as well as any hardware and associated warranties, support, and maintenance. Think about third party products and ‘add-ons’ you are paying for: will you still need them if moving to a new MIS? Is training for staff an additional cost? Part of the consideration for a move to a new system should include indirect costs, such as staff familiarisation time.
- Real-time system updates – in a cloud-based system, changes and upgrades are managed by the supplier in the background and in real-time. Fixes will be applied for issues as soon as they become available, no need to wait for patches to be applied on your local server.
- Any-time, any-place access – wherever there is an internet connection, staff can access the data they need to, on a range of devices. This puts data into the hands of staff when and where they need it.
Of course, this is a real simplification of the decision-making process, there are many, many other factors to take into account. It is really important to take a bespoke deep dive into the MIS options you are considering. All MIS in the market have a basic set of functionality that meets the core requirements of most schools, but how does a particular system manage the things that are important to you? Refer back to your initial investigations – what are the specific pain-points? What are your staff most concerned about? It might not be something that your current MIS doesn’t do particularly well, it could be the fact that it does it really, really well and staff are concerned about moving to a replacement that’s an unknown.
All MIS suppliers should be happy to spend as much as time as you need on demonstrations and talking to you about your needs, to help you make an informed decision. Are there other schools near you that are already using the MIS you are considering? Many schools will be happy to talk to you about their experience and might even give you a demo of the system in a ‘real-world’ environment. Work closely with your support team too. At HFL Education, we have supported almost 300 schools with switching MIS to date and have learned a lot along the way, tap into that experience and expertise and ask as many questions as you need to.
Once you have decided on a move to a cloud MIS, how do you achieve a smooth transition to your new system? Our top 3 tips:
- Use a Framework to buy your licences – the HFL MIS Framework provides an easy, quick and fully compliant mechanism for schools to purchase MIS licences at up to a 35% discount. In addition to the cost savings on price, schools, settings, and trusts can save months in procurement time compared to running an open procedure and any procurement risk sits with HFL Education as the owner of the framework.
- Manage the change – We can’t stress this one enough. The people involved are key to making the transition a success. As early in the process as possible, get your team on-board, identify a ‘champion’ in school to drive the change process. Who are the users in your organisation that will be most affected by a change of MIS? Involve them in the planning and make sure that they feel heard and confident that their training needs will be met. Investing in training and migration support from the outset will pay off.
- Recognise that a new system will not directly compare to the old one – different functionality and processes may seem challenging for users to adjust to at first, but all of the MIS on the HFL Framework have been through a rigorous procurement process to ensure that they provide the functionality that a school MIS needs to operate successfully. A new system will have a different look and feel, and things will be done differently.
For those schools tied into an existing MIS contract, this does not necessarily mean ruling out a change of MIS. Some suppliers have offers enabling schools to switch MIS while only paying for one until their existing agreement expires (subject to terms and conditions).
The MIS is only the beginning. As the cornerstone of your school’s IT solutions, once the MIS is in the cloud, it opens up a whole range of possibilities for your digital strategy, such as cloud-based document hosting, enabling the real-time sharing of documents, enhancing truly collaborative working for staff and pupils. In addition to achieving a saving of up to 35% on MIS licence costs by utilising the HFL MIS Framework, similar savings can be realised in the total cost of ownership when all related IT expenditure is considered. Moving to a cloud-based MIS could be the first step in your school’s journey to a fully cloud-based IT solution and attaining the economies that could come with it.