Hit or MIS?

Editor Stephanie Broad looks at things to consider when using or choosing an MIS system

Management information systems (MIS) broadly refer to computer-based systems that provide managers with the tools to organize, evaluate and efficiently manage departments within an organisation. Twenty years ago, these systems might have been used simply to keep records of attendance or parent information. Now they are much more complex. From managing lunch choices to communicating with parents and reporting behaviour, schools can potentially save time and money by using such a system.

Why use an MIS?

  • All your data on one piece of software
  • Record and monitor attendance
  • Produce charts and reports instantly
  • Share information and events with the whole team 

What to consider when choosing an MIS 

Technology moves and changes so fast that MIS systems can often become outdated. Make sure your MIS is able to update and upgrade in response to changes in your school, while keeping reporting consistent. A brand new MIS can entail lengthy training for your teachers, so regular maintenance of your existing system will minimise drops in efficiency and performance.

Who is making the purchasing decision? If you haven’t road-tested the system with teachers and/or admin staff, you are unlikely to know how it will fare in the classroom where time and resources are at a premium. All key stakeholders should have input into the decision. 

How much will an MIS impact your existing processes? For some schools, paper may still be king and using purely electronic methods could be a daunting prospect. Ensure data is stored in the cloud and is accessible should there be an incident that prevents access to the school. Essential paper records can still be kept in the event of a loss of connectivity. 

What do you need most out of your MIS? Whether it’s attendance, accounting or assessment, decide which task is most important for your MIS to deliver and look for one that is most reliable in this area. Despite the plethora of sophisticated technology available, it is still unlikely for a school to find a system that will excel at all tasks. 

Can it be integrated with other school systems? Provider Edubag has combined the essential management tools of MIS with a learning platform, creating a complete cloud-based system for the classroom. Jennie Martin from At Summit Ltd, co-creators of Edubag, says: “The fact that management of schools seems to be kept firmly separate from the actual teaching and learning remains an issue. Surely, both must work together if we are to improve educational outcomes at costs that fit with today’s stretched budgets? Sitting in the cloud, [Edubag] is a fully integrated administrative MIS and learning platform. Data entered in one place is immediately available to those that need it elsewhere, whether they are a teacher, student, administrator, leader, bursar or even parent.”

Does your school use an MIS? How has it improved your school’s management? Let us know at stephanie.broad@wildfirecomms.co.uk