© 2018 Capita Business Services Ltd. All rights reserved.

Capita Education Software Solutions is a trading name of Capita Business Services Ltd. Our Registered office is 30 Berners Street, London, W1T 3LR and our registered number is 02299747. Further information about Capita plc can be found in our legal statement.

Web Access - Non-Technical Intro

This page is intended for anyone who has a need to exchange data with SIMS and wants to know if they can do via the web. Plenty of pages will be for technically minded colleagues... Alas this page is intended for non-technical colleagues. 

Why might I want to integrate with SIMS?

If you supply a service or solution to a school with needs information about UK pupils, parents and/or staff then you probably need to integrate with SIMS. 

Expectations of Customers

It is typically unacceptable to ask school staff to either rekey data or to manually export / import between systems.

Is it ever acceptable to use file transfer?

If an external system needs a list of students as a CSV, it is run infrequently and single use then it is far cheaper to export a CSV from SIMS and provide a CSV import. As ever, the key resolution to the conundrum is the conversation with customers.  Any coding work has a cost which ultimately will be borne by the customer.

Business Case

ESS do not have a legitimate interest in a business case for technical integrators (TIs) to develop an integration and associated solution. We do have a duty of care for our TIs which extends to identify actual and potential costs.

If an organisation wants to extract data via automation from SIMS products which is anything beyond a standard File Export| File Import within the product (e.g. Common Transfer File - CTF) will require that the organisation becomes a TI.  All web access requires a contract in place under GDPR, everything else requires a copy of our software and /or associated services.  The fee model charges for resources that we provide to TIs for software, consultancy or services and a per school annual charge. All pricing is transparent and are described here which also has a link to download a cost estimator.  Costs are designed to be affordable but do not support free solutions because of the need to cover our costs in providing services.

Integration Application Only

Web

On – Premise

Per School per Year Charge

Yes

Yes

Support Charge

Probably

Probably

Consultancy charges

Optional

Optional

On-site deployment

 

Per School

On-site maintenance

 

Per School

Support Costs

Per School

Per School

Central Deployment Costs

Central Cost

 

Central Maintenance Costs

Central Cost

 

Development / Test Costs

Application Specific

Application Specific

Hosting Server Costs

Yes

 

Dev Ops Costs

Yes

 

The table suggests the cost that need to be considered.  It may well be that for a limited set of 10 customers an on-premise solution is much cheaper but for 5000 customers, a web solution may be compelling.  TIs, however, need to estimate their own costs but often underestimate the cost of deploying/supporting on-premise solutions; for example 2h per customer per year for 5000 customers equates to approximately 6 full time staff.

Can we always use SIMS web APIs to build our application?

The answer to this is not easy to generalise.  There are a set of web apis which covers a subset of data for ‘read’ and a different (smaller) subset for ‘write’.  The first task for the TI development lead is to work out what data they need from SIMS and what data they need to write to SIMS.  This should be then checked against the APIs currently available. If the coverage is sufficient then it is likely that this is your best choice subject to the calculations above.

If there are gap in the available APIs then by all means check with partner support what our plans are; however, unless commitments are made to deliver all of the required APIs within a couple of weeks then there is a risk of delay. If time is critical and it usually is, we would recommend considering an on-premise solution assuming that the required local APIs are available. 100s of TIs have previously succeeded using these APIs and local integrations are in place in most of our schools.

When will SIMS have full Web API coverage?

Service

Read

Write

Academic Groups

OData TBC

One Roster available

TBC

Assessment

TBC

TBC

Attendance

Currently Good

Planned – H1 2022 STC

Conduct (Achievement / Behaviour)

Available

TBC

Learner

Currently Good

TBC

Meal Management

No plans

No plans

Pastoral Groups

Currently Good

TBC

School (Educational Establishment)

Currently Good

TBC

School Events

Published

TBC

Special Needs

Available

TBC

Staff

Partial – More in H1 2022 STC

TBC

There are 2 ways to find out where your product fits web APIs (Technical):

Is Single Sign On Available? (SSO)

SIMS ID is an industry standard identity management system based on Microsoft Identity Server.  It supports 2 factor authentication and can support delegation to Facebook and other 3rd party identity providers.  SIMS ID will in effect provide the external id of the organisation and the external id person linked to the login (it tells us it is John Smith 4 at The High School). It may offer additional metadata such as the role of the person (Staff / Pupil) but this is minimal.

Data is commonly transferred from SIMS under a different set of credentials and not the credentials of the logged in user which would have access to all of the data granted by the school. The TI will need to build and define any access control required by their system.

It is essential for the TI to have the conversation with customers to confirm whether the expected users already have and use SIMS ID to access systems prior to starting development. Often a ‘no’ answer would suggest that SIMS ID may not really offer SSO and simply offer identity management.