BigSIS is a cloud-based student information system for private schools across North America. It offers integrated modules for managing admissions, enrollments, gradebooks and more.
The student information module helps administrators to track student details from admission until graduation. Course materials can be distributed to students according to their assigned curriculum and grades can be captured and reported in annual report cards.
BigSIS provides an integrated email system that helps teachers to communicate student progress to parents. A built-in calendar feature helps both teachers and students keep track of their class schedules. The solution also offers modules for accepting donations, accepting online applications for school events, sharing volunteer opportunities with parents and more.
BigSIS is per module. Support is offered via phone and email.
Sarah from Austin Waldorf School
Large number of features for the value, I think you would be hard-pressed to find another software that offers as much for the cost. Great for smaller schools on a limited budget. Increasingly good customer service and modules.
It is not always intuitive for staff who don't work with the program often. Limited resources online to help you with issues. Having a user manual would help a lot. I end of having to create a lot of my own user guides to share with faculty and staff.
Vesna from The Hartsbrook School
Employees number: 51-200 employees
It made my job easier. It simplified student reports process and it is helpful to have the ability to pull different reports. I can get the information that I need from anywhere, I don't have to be at my desk. It gave me the ability to work from home when needed. I wish we had someone to help us make small changes, such as ability to print labels per household correctly and to print labels with just first and last name, without address. I feel that we do not use BigSIS to its full extent and primarily that is due to the fact that we don't have a programmer on site and we are not aware of all the BigSIS features. Maybe a demo once the major updates are up would help. Another thing, BigSIS does not differentiate well between parents and guardians. This always present itself as a problem with parents who are separated and when one parent has limited rights. Parent wit the limited rights still needs to have an access to Parent Portal but we cannot specify that only one parent is a guardian, and the other can see the reports, school directory but nothing else for example.
Having ability to share student reports, school directory and collect school forms through Parent Portal. Teachers having an easy access to the student reports they wrote in the past through Teacher's Portal. Writing student reports, curriculum summaries (descriptions), and being able to allow proofreaders a direct access to those reports is helping us simplify the whole process. Ability to send group email. Running reports on daily attendance, emergency contacts, health information. Customer service is very helpful. You can always count on a prompt, detailed and helpful answer from the customer service.
Not having formatting ability when writing student reports. Sending a group email is a cumbersome and lengthy process. Mailing labels (per household) are not centered correctly, we end up wasting more labels than using. We don't have a programmer on site to help us customize so simple things as labels are not a usable feature to us. I am not always aware of the updates, small updates, which often influence and change processes that I use occasionally . Parent Portal cannot be used on cell phones, which is more and more what end user expects. We received many complaints about parents and teachers not being able to use BigSIS on iPad's.
Tamara from Sunbridge Institute
I'd say we are getting the basics, which is more than can be said for other solutions. We are getting registrar records management, donor records management, most of what we need for mailings, and now we are expanding into alumni records management. I have many ideas for what I would like to see from the product that would make the registrar's job, in particular, easier, and they are open-minded, so we will see what the future brings.
Their customer support is upbeat, helpful, open-minded, tuned in to the experience of the user, with fairly quick turn-around on a ticket (usually less than 24 hours), and very personal.
I also love that they listen to the customer, and take the feedback into their product, making improvements. These take time, and of course, the source of improvements are the initial frustrations (limitations) that caused the suggestions, so it's not perfect. But in my experience, no database is perfect anyway, so you might as well go with one that will improve over time.
My biggest frustration is the lack of generic training videos and/or detailed user manual. I see they are adding in little info bubbles to help answer questions (which is great), and there are some how-to videos in the help section, but not nearly enough. I feel like there's a lot to learn about this database that is bottle-necked at their help-desk, and I personally wish that I could learn a lot more in order to maximize our usage.
This being said, they are forward-thinking crew, and their upgrades are well-thought out, and I expect the product to continue to blossom in functionality. I think almost any Waldorf school with a tight budget would do well to jump on board with them, since they offer a fairly robust functionality for a good value.
Erika from WSP
Teachers and administrators love the student reports, friendly interface, calendar customization, and custom fields.
Needs to improve transcripts
But the company makes an effort to address issues and provide solutions because they care about their clients!
sarah from Berkeley Rose Waldorf School
So much that it offers! I love that we can get all our parents info into the database and I'm looking forward to moving our Extended Care tracking and our Forms in there also.
So much to learn! It is hard to transition from Google docs & paper printouts to a digital database.
Helen from Green Meadow Waldorf School
Staff at BigSIS are always willing to help and sometimes update programs to suit my needs. It meets all my needs for transcripts, attendance, reports, labels, etc.
Sometimes the program runs slower than I would like. I honestly don't have any other complaints. It is great!
Kelley from Emerson Waldorf School
Employees number: 11-50 employees
Having everything in one place for the first time in my 10 years at my job (from grades/reports/people/students/alum/donations) is awesome!
The multi-functionality and flexibility to pull the data you have put in. The front end is user friendly and intuitive. The customer service, whether via email or phone, is the best!
The calendar - for the uses we have at our school it's a bit clunky - not being able to print it out in a readable format.
Stephanie from Olympia Waldorf School
Online database that multiple users can access and use.
Lots of options for sorting and tracking families and students. We have found the attendance to be simple and easy to use.
Not intuitive, have to learn how to do everything from scratch. Each time we add a new user for any reason, it is a job to relearn the system. None of our users are highly computer savy so it is frustrating. It took us over a year to begin really using it because it felt so cumbersome.
Melissa from Prairie Moon Waldorf School
Employees number: 11-50 employees
All our information in one place!
I like the parent portal access. I like how it works for the faculty for end-of-year reports. We're still learning all that we can take advantage of and it just keeps going!
The training for its use is extensive and can't easily be passed from employee to employee. Parts can be held up for the whole organization if one employee hasn't been able to take up learning their portion (i.e. the leads module holding up the website software for leads understandable but challenging). I'd like to be able to mark a student's ongoing absence on one page rather than choosing a date, then class for each absence.
Rory from Sierra Waldorf School
I like that it can filter for different information, that parents can input information directly through the parent portal, that teachers can share student reports directly through the parent portal, and it's ability to track progress through contracting process. There is so much more that BigSIS can do that we have not been able to tap into. I am slowly learning how to use it and expanding my awareness of its possibilities.
I wish someone knowledgeable could help customize it more for our needs as just a basic starting point. Perhaps I was just unaware of how much customizing would be necessary on our end. The webinars that we had at the beginning were helpful but premature. I think it's much more practical to have our own database in place before we learn how to use it. Learning something this complex in a hypothetical way is challenging. However, I appreciated all the time and training sessions that were offered. Perhaps there could be more follow-up.
BigSIS is not always intuitive. Some of the more important items, such as the help tutorials/checklists, are located in certain tables. There is a certain amount of "remembering" or familiarity that is necessary before it can be used in an efficient manner. This is likely the case for any software, but not being able to find something easily is frustrating. The left side menu is a bit clunky for me. I don't understand why some things are given their own headings and not others. Like "Courses" being it's own section, but "Academic Years" is hidden under Students> Other. Seems like it would be together in one area in an hierarchical order, so I have trouble remembering where to find it.
Lastly, there doesn't seem to be a quick way to pull up emergency card, health info, on a student in BigSIS, and it would be helpful. If I mistakenly look for it under the "Student" table then I must click through several screens to retrieve the info. Running a report also takes a bit of work. I would like a main screen field, that does not have to wait for a table to load, where I simply type in a student's name and a report comes up with allergies, emergency contacts etc. If it takes too long then it's not as useful as a printed piece of paper that can be quickly accessed in a binder.
I hope this helps!
Thomas from Santa Fe Waldorf School
Employees number: 11-50 employees
Time savings, all data in one spot, very cost effective.
The front-end is very user friendly; reports can be easily customized; no issues with faculty entering grade reports; ability to selectively communicate with parents/donors/employees; create enrollment contracts on the fly; portal allows parents to update address & health info as well as access to their child's grades, homework assignments, and sign contracts electronically. Customer service always prompt and very helpful.
Due to its multitude of features you ideally need one person who has been trained in all the modules to do the set-up and to make annual adjustments. Normal user would be overwhelmed. BigSIS should offer this as an additional service.
Lori from The Waldorf School of San Diego
Employees number: 51-200 employees
Improved school communications, saved money, improved information tracking for inquiries and student records, enabled online student reports input and dissemination, consolidated multiple functions in areas of admissions, development, enrollment, information management.
Very powerful program with fantastic support team that has implemented many of our requests as needed. Online portals improve our school communications and parents like the real-time directory and access to forms and student reports. Teachers love the portals for ease of writing reports online. From online inquiries to admissions tracking, development, attendance, reports, this program meets many of our needs.
Does not integrate with our billing system... we use Quickbooks. Hoping to see this in future updates.
Response: BigSIS, BigSIS
Date: November 2017
Thank you, Lori. We love working with you and our whole BigSIS family at the Waldorf School of San Diego. Your feedback has been invaluable to us and we hope to be able to keep expanding BigSIS to meet your needs and the needs of other schools like yours!