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SIMS License campaign

By 17th March 2022No Comments

Please forward to relevant colleagues

We wanted to make schools aware of a change being implemented to SIMS & FMS from the Spring 2022 release, due to the changes in licensing. An email has been sent by ESS to advise that a new license checker will appear in SIMS to ensure schools have the correct license agreement in place to receive updates to the software. An eligibility key will be sent to customers around the 28th/29th March which MUST be saved. This key will potentially need entering into SIMS & FMS. Please ensure that the URL used to carry out the license check is unblocked by your IT department (see below FAQ for URL). There is a quick guide available on our customer portal (my.schoolicts.co.uk) showing how the check will look. Please see below a copy of the communication sent to schools from ESS along with related FAQ. 

Copy of the ESS communication sent to schools

Dear colleague,

The Spring 2022 release of SIMS and FMS has moved to the 4 April to support the release of our SIMS Next Generation programme. As part of this release for the first time we will be checking that customers are eligible to use the software updates included in the release. We call this an eligibility check.

The eligibility check ensures that SIMS and FMS software updates can only be used by schools who have or had an annual entitlement agreement that was current at the time the software update was released.

The eligibility check should be invisible to most customers who have a valid agreement with ESS and will be performed automatically and in the background. However, in some cases users may be prompted to enter a unique eligibility key, which ESS will supply by email to all customers with current agreements in advance of the release. If for any reason a school mislays this eligibility key, the school can request a replacement using a simple form. Details of how to do this will be displayed by the software if a school is required to enter an eligibility key.

If a customer does not have a current annual entitlement agreement, then to obtain an eligibility key the school will need to accept ESS’ annual entitlement agreement terms. They can do this either via our online web contracting portal or by paying our annual entitlement service invoice.

If a customer accepts the terms through ESS’ web portal it will take roughly 2 business days to register the school’s new agreement and for the eligibility key email to be sent.

If a customer accepts our terms by paying our invoice it can take up to 10 business days to process the payment, register the school’s new agreement and for the eligibility key email to be sent.

SIMS customers without current annual entitlement agreements will not be able to access or use the Census menu option in SIMS, since this has been updated as part of the Spring 2022 release and FMS customers without current annual entitlement agreements will be unable to access the CFR menu options, which has also been updated in the Spring 2022 release. All other menu items will function normally.

Local authority maintained schools who have relied on their local authority SIMS or FMS licence to allow them to use ESS software should be aware that in many cases these licences have now expired. If this is the case, the school will only be entitled to use SIMS or FMS if the school has accepted ESS’ annual entitlement agreement terms, which include a new licence, or have purchased a new SIMS and/or FMS licence from ESS.

The eligibility check has been designed to be as automated and invisible as possible. We will also shortly be providing a full set of documentation, including guides, FAQs and a “how-to” video to explain how the process will work and help with any issues.

Kind regards,
ESS SIMS

 

ESS FAQs

Q. Are there any processes in place which change the way the SIMS and FMS Software behave in relation to a customer who has an active contract in place?
A. Yes, there is an Annual Entitlement eligibility check process in place which ensures that only schools who have an active Annual Entitlement access certain parts of the SIMS and FMS functionality.  The eligibility check should be invisible to most customers who have a valid agreement with ESS and will be performed automatically and in the background.  However in some cases users may be prompted to enter a unique eligibility key, which ESS will supply by email to all customers with current agreements in advance of the release.  If for any reason you mislay this eligibility key you can request a replacement eligibility key using a simple form.  Details of how to do this will be displayed by the software in the event that you are required to enter an eligibility key.

Q. Who will get the email with the Eligibility Key?
A. The eligibility Key will be sent to the nominated contact in the Annual Entitlement Agreement process (which was completed either via our online web contracting portal or by paying our annual entitlement service invoice). The eligibility key need only be entered into SIMS and FMS if prompted by the system. 

Q. Will the eligibility check affect the Spring release?
A. No. The eligibility check will not affect the release upgrade process itself, whether delivered via SOLUS or ISO, which can be carried out as normal.

Q. How do I know if I have a valid Eligibility Key?
A. An email titled “SIMS FMS Eligibility Key” would have been sent to the nominated contact who completed the Annual Entitlement Agreement process.

Q. Is any of the Eligibility Check process being automated?
A. Yes, we are automating as much of the process as possible. The eligibility check should be invisible to most customers who have a valid agreement with ESS and will be performed automatically and in the background. For the majority of users in schools therefore, if there is an active annual entitlement in place, their SIMS and FMS system will continue to work in the exact same way. In some cases users may be prompted to enter a unique eligibility key, which ESS will supply by email to all customers with current agreements in advance of the release.  If for any reason you mislay this eligibility key you can request a replacement eligibility key using a simple form.  Details of how to do this will be displayed by the software in the event that you are required to enter an eligibility key.

Q. My school has a poor internet connection or has a firewall in place. How can I help ensure that the daily automated check works?
A. To help with whitelisting the automated check where schools have poor connectivity or a firewall that prevents outgoing queries, then the URL is as follows:
https://licenses.sims.co.uk

Q. Can an Eligibility Key be resent?
A. Yes, there will be a link in SIMS and FMS that directs the user to an online form which can be filled in to have the eligibility key resent.

Q. Who can we contact to obtain our Eligibility Key?
A.  Upon upgrade to the Spring release, if an automated check has not been completed, then a message will be displayed in the software.  In this message will be a link to an online form capturing your details to help us process the request.  In addition to this preferred method of using the form, users can use the online chat facility on the renewal portal or gateway.

Q. Can an Support unit such as School ICT distribute Eligibility Keys?
A. No, eligibility keys are individually generated for each school who have an annual entitlement agreement in place.

Q. When will the Eligibility Key be available?
A. Eligibility keys will be sent automatically on a regular schedule from ESS once a school has completed the contracting process via our online web contracting portal/gateway or by paying their annual entitlement service invoice. If a school is yet to complete their annual entitlement agreement with ESS, completing the process on our online web contracting portal/gateway will the quickest way to retrieve a valid eligibility Key.

Q. I want to complete our annual entitlement agreement with ESS on the online web contracting portal, what is the web address for this?
A. You will have been contacted by ESS with details on where to complete your online renewal as this address differs depending on your school type.

Q. Can I obtain an Eligibility Key later in the year if I re-contract with ESS after the Spring release has gone out?
A. Yes.

Q. What areas of SIMS and FMS are controlled by this Eligibility Key?
A. For SIMS, functionality for CENSUS and for FMS, the CFR Menu.

Q. What happens if I do not enter an Eligibility Key?
A. For SIMS, access to the CENSUS menu and functionality is disabled.  For FMS, access to the CFR Menu is disabled.  All other areas of SIMS and FMS will continue to work.

Q. Does each user need to enter an Eligibility Key?
A. No, once a valid eligibility key has been entered, no users from that point on will receive the message upon login. 

Q. What happens to my data in SIMS?
A. For CENSUS, schools will have saved their CENSUS reports and XML files in a dedicated directory which is accessed outside of the SIMS application.  All the underlying data is still accessible.

Q. What happens to my data in FMS?
A. All the underlying data is still present in FMS, schools will still be able to process their financial transactions etc, however it will not be possible to run any reports or any functions that reside in the CFR menu.

Q. What happens if I am a SIMS Hosted or Connected customer?
A. The eligibility key will be sent to you and if required you can enter this into SIMS and FMS in the exact same way as other users of the software.  Having your applications hosted make no difference to the process.

Q. Is there documentation on what I need to do?
A. Yes, we have documented the process and have a short video walk through of applying an eligibility key if required, this is available from KB0051049.

Q. Who do I call if I have any issues with the process?
A. We have done as much as we can to automate the eligibility check so customers with a valid annual entitlement agreement in place can continue to use the CENSUS and FMS CFR functionality as normal.  In the scenario where the school is prompted to enter an eligibility key and they cannot locate the previously sent email containing the key, then ESS can be contacted by filling out a response form available as a link in the SIMS (Help | Enter Eligibility Key) and FMS (Help | Enter Eligibility Key) Software or via this link: http://ess-solus.co.uk/AnnualEntitlement

Q. My school has a poor internet connection or has a firewall in place. How can I help ensure that the automated form works to request a key?
A. To help with whitelisting the automated form to request a key where schools have poor connectivity or a firewall that prevents outgoing queries, then the URL is as follows:
http://ess-solus.co.uk/AnnualEntitlement

Q. My DfE number is going to change, what happens to my Eligibility?
A. Inform ESS that your DfE number is changing, what it is changing to and when this is going to take place.  We can then update our systems so that when SIMS and FMS check for a valid eligibility key, a new key will be used.  When you change the DfE number in SIMS and FMS, the menus and functionality will be disabled until a valid eligibility key is confirmed automatically, or manually entered.

Q. I am an Independent or a Free School, my Annual Entitlement renews in October, what will happen to my SIMS and FMS?
A. Upon the upgrade to the Spring release of SIMS and FMS, your school will be subject to the same process for entering an Eligibility Key to re-enable the required menu routes.

Q. I am an International School, my contract renews in October, what will happen to my SIMS and FMS?
A. Upon the upgrade to the Spring release of SIMS and FMS, your school will be subject to the same process for entering an Eligibility Key to re-enable the required menu routes.

Q. What happens to my data if I am hosted by ESS and I am no longer contracting to use SIMS or FMS?
A. We have an offboarding process for our SIMS Connected and Hosted SIMS customers.

Q. What if I am an Academy that is part of a Multi Academy Trust?
A. If you are a school that is part of a MAT, each individual academy will receive their own Eligibility Key, this will be sent to the nominated contact completing the annual entitlement agreement process.

If you are unsure if you have a license in place or have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact the helpdesk.