Section 4: Selecting a Commercial MIS
While a few notable citywide afterschool systems are supported by self-developed software, the majority of afterschool management information systems (MIS) are built by a handful of commercial vendors. Selecting a vendor is among the most important decisions a city will make in developing its afterschool MIS, as this firm serves not only as a technology provider but also as a consultant to the many other tasks associated with creating a citywide system. Section 4 on Selecting a Commercial MIS (pdf) compares the various features of different vendors' products. A supplemental online cost calculator provides a range of estimated prices communities may expect to pay for building and maintaining an MIS.
Based on responses to a request for information (RFI), the full report compares six - including all of the most prominent - MIS vendors:
- Cityspan Technologies, Inc.
- Comet Informatics
- Community TechKnowledge
- nFocus Solutions
- Social Solutions
- ThomasKelly Software
The report briefly describes two other vendors of commercial MI systems in use by cities surveyed by NLC: Cayen Systems and CiviCore.
Offering a high-level starting point for cities to compare commercial products, NLC compiled information on each system's capacities related to commonly requested features, including:
- Enrollment, attendance and participation
- Case management
- Agency, site and staff management
- Survey and assessment instruments
- Integration with other data systems
- Training and support
- Grant and contract management
- Additional functionality
In addition, the six companies that responded to NLC's January 2012 request for information each provided cost estimates for a generalized afterschool system, including "fixed" setup costs, training, customization, and recurring licensing costs. In November 2012, NLC will use these estimates to provide cities with an interactive cost calculator online. While these cost estimates are in no way binding on the companies that participated, they offer cities a reasonably good idea of the range of prices they might expect to pay for a citywide MI system, given certain parameters.