What is MIS or a Management Information System?
Most organisations today rely on an MIS to run daily administrative tasks, and to collect and structure their data; but what is it exactly?
The acronym stands for Management Information System. It is a form of information technology used to leverage, record, and store data to help decision makers derive insights that drive organizational improvement.
Having given a basic definition to answer questions like what is an MIS or what is an MIS system, this post will now explore more questions in regards to what it can do and why it is important for schools.
What Does MIS Stand for in Education?
Schools, like any other organisation, run numerous operations, collect and report data, and coordinate communication between their staff and with a broader community of students and parents. Like any other organisation, schools need an MIS.
What Are MIS Used for in Schools?
Historically, data used in schools was collected on paper by administration staff. Before digitalisation, all information had to be entered into a system manually.
Then in line with a growing demand for reporting by the government, teachers began to be more and more involved in collecting data and were bearing the burden of increased bureaucratic tasks.
This has caused teachers to feel overwhelmed by the workload, and, in many cases, it has led them to abandon the career they had trained for.
In 2016, a survey published by the BBC, and run by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers revealed that:
- 93% of respondents said they thought the excessive workload might stop people wanting to join the profession
- 91% said poor work-life balance put off new joiners while 64% suggested lack of respect for teaching
- 83% of people replying said they had considered leaving the profession - with nine out of 10 of those saying it was down to workload
- 74% said teacher shortages also contributed to their increased amount of work
- 55% said a reduction in the amount of paperwork would improve their jobs
- 94% of respondents were in England with the remaining 6% in other parts of the UK
Luckily, these stats report a trend that’s slowly shifting.
The Need for Change
Schools are seeking ways to combine the need to gather data with the need to free teachers from the excessive time spent on paperwork.
The way forward is to utilise advanced, cloud-based MIS platforms.
How Does MIS Work and how Can it Help Reduce Workload?
Through modern management information systems, there’s a chance to process a much greater level of information automatically, without the need for teachers’ manual administering.
At the same time, schools are discovering the potential to fully exploit the power of new systems for things like communicating with students and parents, storing documents in digital form, monitoring attendance patterns, holding medical information, helping with safeguarding, running checks for compliance to regulation, and exploring contextual data analysis to spot anomalies and identify trends.
Moreover, schools are not static institutions and communities; they evolve and go through change. So, for a school to stay relevant and efficient, it must adopt the most advanced software and practices.
The Advantages of Cloud MIS
Whilst there aren’t any doubts that we would have struggled to go through the current pandemic without the help of technology, we must consider that it is the latest developments within this technology that have brought the most crucial advantages.
Cloud has made it possible for many people to connect and work from home while offices were closed, and public transport could not be used.
For schools all over the world, it has meant that lessons could be moved online, and remote teaching and learning could be facilitated.
A continuation of routine has been possible only thanks to the revolutionary digitisation every sector is experiencing.
The advantages offered by Cloud MIS systems used in schools are substantial and not limited to the current period of time.
This is why Bromcom has chosen to deliver a Cloud-based MIS product.
Bromcom School MIS Solutions
With decades of experience within the UK education sector, Bromcom sets out to produce appropriate and modern solutions, designed in a bespoke way to meet the requirements of teachers, admin staff, students and parents as part of the school community.
Benefits of Bromcom MIS are as following:
- A comprehensive and cost-effective cloud-based platform accessible any time and anywhere;
- Bespoke solutions for individual primary and secondary schools, MATs and LAs;
- An integrated Finance Management System: Bromcom Cloud-Finance;
- Integrated Microsoft Power BI for facilitating reports and analytics;
- An integrated communication tool to connect parents, students and teachers;
- Training and support available for staff and local IT teams.
Bromcom works with over 800 schools, 60 MATs (Multi Academy Trusts), 20 LAs (Local Authorities) and numerous Support Centres in the UK.
First of all, Bromcom recognises the need for schools to rely on an MIS that is fast and robust, and able to process high amounts of data with as little requirement as possible for teachers’ input.
Bromcom’s MIS Solution for Primary Schools
Although more flexibility has been granted by the government in terms of how to run individual primary schools, teachers still feel pressured into having to make difficult decisions when choosing the right assessment methods and processes.
Tests are still perceived by many regulators as fairer and more insightful performance assessments, but primary school kids can experience high levels of stress as a result of such rigorous methodology.
So, teachers have to work hard to balance the need for an accurate evaluation system with the need for children’s wellbeing.
Of course, things will be a bit different this year, as we still deal with the COVID19 emergency, but as the return to normal approaches, schools will have to prepare for more pressure in the near future.
So what can Bromcom MIS do to help Primary Schools?
Bromcom integrates a feature called Primary Tracker, which is specifically designed for primary schools.
With Tracker, schools can keep track of curriculum coverage, assess pupils’ performance, target and help specific groups.
Using insight-driven analytics rids teachers of the need to subject young children to multiple tests, because performance can be analysed through data.
Timely detection of eventual issues with particular groups helps teachers act fast in providing additional assistance and tackle deficiencies. This is crucial for improving students’ performance, and it can be done without adding unnecessary stress.
Bromcom’s MIS Solution for Secondary Schools
The older the students, the more complex the tasks.
The challenge for today’s secondary schools is enormous. Following lockdowns and restrictions, teachers and students are having to make up for the time lost, while adequately preparing for GCSEs and A-Levels.
This can only be achieved if teachers are allowed to concentrate on lessons and are freed from continually filling in paperwork.
Bromcom understands this, and in an effort to speed up operations, it provides a one-stop-shop solution that will considerably ease the workload.
According to last year’s school census, over 70% of schools in England and Wales looking for a cloud-based MIS, have chosen Bromcom.
Just as with primary schools, the MIS facilitates and speeds up assessment processes, multi-channel communication, data analysis and group reporting.
The MIS tracks and records demographics and pupil KPIs such as attendance, behaviour and attainment at every level.
It examines a wide variety of metrics with both static figures and general trends.
The integrated dashboards contain headline figures and multiple graphs and timelines with drill down functionality. This allows staff to identify an issue, segment a group of pupils and then concentrate on the individual’s record.
Bromcom’s solution for Multi Academy Trusts (MATs)
MATs are having to deal with all the issues affecting individual schools.
Additionally, they have to coordinate practices and operations across the group of schools under their management.
When choosing a management system, the idea of a one-size-fits-all solution is not suitable; neither is it realistic.
It is not suitable because the multiple academies within the trust are each different and present different needs.
It is not realistic, because, as we’ve seen with old on-premise MIS designed with the one-size-fits-all approach, the basic system is repeatedly re-sized for each school to have special add-ons and different functionalities. This causes a disruption in operations, as well as inconsistencies in data visualisation.
A much better solution is to have an agile system, that can be flexible and adaptable, while at the same time reflect a uniform view of the collected data.
A web-based MIS, like Bromcom, can give individual academies the agility they need to personalise most options, whilst offering the trust a unified and comprehensive view at top level through the same platform.
Because MATs need to access large datasets comprising of information gathered from multiple institutions, they need a system that can handle the size of these datasets.
Bromcom responds to this challenge by integrating Microsoft Power BI as a key application that is able to convert large datasets into meaningful and dynamic reports.
Power BI is most effective on cloud-MIS
Older MIS, which are locally installed rather than on cloud, present a number of issues when Power BI is added to the main infrastructure.
- Data must be exported from the local management system, then imported into Power BI. This is a long process that must be set up and maintained by local IT experts. It can cause delays, plus the possibilities of error when setting it up increase.
- The whole process represents an additional security risk, which needs to be accounted for (for instance, unencrypted data dumps, etc.).
- All data must be exported via the Report Engine, and the datasets that can be handled will be significantly limited in size.
- The installed software is not easy to access. To view and work on reports, users either have to install a Power BI Desktop or logon to the Power BI site.
- Because the tool is not integrated within the basic system, operations through Power BI are difficult to standardise, and align with security and regulatory requirements. There’s no IP protection as it is not centrally maintained.
Bromcom Cloud-MIS integrates Power BI, making it accessible through the same platform.
In this way, none of the issues above mentioned will affect functionality.
Another product designed to meet the specific requirements of MATs is Vison-X.
Bromcom MIS with MAT Vision
Bromcom Vision-X is tailored for serving MATs and LAs (Local Authorities). It mines all data from different individual schools, and it collates it in one database for consolidating reports.
It empowers users to compare performance between academies, identify key issues, take actions and assess impact.
It supports collaboration between schools, highlighting and sharing good practice, making data accessible to all relevant partners.
It also permits users to run customised reporting through its Advanced Report Builder.
Users can create bespoke reports for the centralised dataset. These can include calculations, charts and multiple data areas.
On using Bromcom, Ian Gladden, MIS Trust Manager of All Saints Academy Trust has said:
"MAT-Vision X and Power BI have been game changers for our attendance team and how they analyse attendance for various sub-populations. Data production that took hours at both school and trust level can now be accessed in minutes, allowing the attendance team to use their time engaging with the students and their families to improve attendance.”
Bromcom’s MIS Solution for LAs
Like MATs, Local Authorities need a more comprehensive view of insights and processes. They too deal with multiple institutions within their locality.
Implementing an MIS with tools such as Vision-X and Power BI presents a range of opportunities for Local Authorities and Support teams.
The cloud-based solution is able to gather data from other systems implemented within each school.
It allows central teams to get to the core of the issues before they become a real problem. They can identify successes and failures, providing proactive measures based on a more in-depth view and a greater understanding of all their schools’ data.
Thanks to the built-in communication tools and the option to create consistent reports, schools can compare their data to peers, learn from their successes and share best practices.
The other thing that renders Bromcom a competitive solution for LAs is its cost-effectiveness.
Local authorities have undergone a long period of austerity, and school budgets are under pressure.
A cloud-based management system for the schools they are responsible for is the solution that would reduce their expenses. Instead, they are, in great part, still dependent on old legacy IT infrastructures.
This is because old local systems have been perceived to be cheaper.
If the budget is limited, the solution must be cost-effective
For years the perception amongst users has been that MIS advanced tech is more expensive than in-house IT systems, but this is not so.
Taking into account the cumulative expenditures that Local Authority schools have had to bear over the years for running, maintaining and updating older on-premise versions of MIS, these are much more costly.
In fact, having asked schools to ascertain indicative costs of data analysis by senior leaders, feedback received by Bromcom has shown that the production, manipulation and analysis of performance information would take days and could be costing up to £12,000 per annum for each individual institution.
Web-based solutions are, in comparison, far more cost-effective. Bromcom can save maintained schools thousands of pounds each year.
Bromcom Cloud-Finance – MIS Integrated Finance Management System
Previously, schools were having to implement an additional finance management tool to their on-premise MIS, as this would not offer the option of financial processing.
The majority of new MIS platforms still lack a finance system as part of their common interface or even able to offer one at all.
Schools often have to resort to buying financial management tools as extra bits of software to manage their finance and accounting.
This is very costly and, in the long run, it inevitably adds to the workload with staff either having to export data from one system into another or carry out double entry.
It also means that data that could be usefully together is in disparate systems making analysis difficult.
Bromcom Finance offers a secure solution with no need for additional software installation.
A single login gives access to Cloud-Finance and the MIS.
- Generation of live dashboards for the leadership team so that schools can keep track of their accounts without the need for static reports.
- Adaptability and flexibility: unlike other suppliers, there’s no sting in the tail when converting to an Academy, as there’s no need for a new licence and the associated charges.
Communication through Bromcom MIS
Through the integration of Student and Parent Apps, Bromcom MIS keeps teachers and staff connected with students and parents by facilitating communication through email, SMS messaging and push notifications that can be accessed through the platform.
Why is this important?
Connectivity amongst all interested parties is vital for a school to function. Whether that is such diverse activities as managing a parents evening or discussing the support for a specific child, effective and efficient communications is vital.
It strengthens the sense of community and, in more practical terms, it keeps everyone on the same page by facilitating the announcement of new updates, sending of invites and notifications.
Training and Support
For any company, undergoing business transformation can be stressful. The same is true for schools.
In the case of businesses, a good transformation strategy must be driven by customer demand. In education too, transitioning to new systems must be driven by new demands, which can come from the school itself, regulatory bodies, and governmental legislation.
In short, things should not be changed just for the sake of it, but to make a difference.
Having said that, although the education sector is always more aware of the need for change in the way schools are run, the implementation of change can still face some obstacles.
One of the most common obstacles for schools to encounter, when vetting new solutions and systems, is the perceived difficulty for the staff to learn how to operate the new system. The cost and difficulty of change is often a huge concern.
Bromcom appreciates this and is committed to ensure schools undergo the smoothest transition.
Training and reliable customer service for teachers and staff is provided at the highest level. Feedback and questions are not just encouraged but valued, as these provide a chance for the system to improve, adapt and evolve.
Bromcom MIS in itself is designed to be user friendly and easy to access.
Once this is up and running within the school infrastructure, teachers will enjoy the benefits of a technology that really frees them from admin and cumbersome paperwork.
Why Choose Bromcom’s MIS?
Today’s market offers many MIS solutions.
Schools are often presented with a wide variety of choices, making decisions on which to opt for hard.
The choice should always be based on matching school needs with platform capabilities.
Here’s how Bromcom matches against each need of today’s schools:
- Cost-effectiveness: because the MIS integrates multiple functions and is easily adaptable, you won’t meet extra costs for adding new functionalities;
- Easy to implement and use: a customer centric focus guarantees a team always available to answer your questions;
- Various configurations including a one-stop-shop with multiple functions: integrated functions include parent and pupil portals, safeguarding, online payments, performance tracking, classroom management, analytics. Further option of a purpose designed Finance Management System for schools and accessible through the same platform: Cloud-Finance;
- A responsive and adaptable platform with remote access: because it is cloud-based it can be accessed anytime and from anywhere.
At Bromcom, we listen to the school’s ideas, be they from a small, local school or from a large school trust, or from a local authority with multiple schools.
Our product has been developed on the solid base of an ongoing collaboration with schools that we’ve built and maintained over the last thirty years.
Our experience has taught us that what schools care about is having a reliable and accessible system with integrated functions and a great user interface at a low cost. Therefore, this is also what we care about and what we strive to provide.
Because we understand that demands are constantly changing, we are committed to always innovating our solution to meet any new challenge and create new opportunities.
In a world that is each day becoming more complex, populated and fast-paced, our mandate is simple: to listen, to innovate and to care.
Well, if this blog post has answered all or, at least, some of your questions, why not check the products, features and services offered by Bromcom and listed on our website? You can find detailed information and explore all our tools.
And if you’d like to know more about us, just drop us a line or call us, we are always happy to help.
17 December 2020 / Liza Adebisi - Bromcom