Included with every BigSIS installation comes a large set of free features. These tools help you efficiently and quickly do your job. As we continue to develop BigSIS, new free features are added and your installation will automatically include the latest versions at no additional charge.
Custom Form Fields & Drop-down Lists
The Custom Form Fields & Drop-down Lists system (along with the Filter & Query Builder, see below), is one of the most powerful parts of BigSIS. It allows you to create any set of form fields that can then be applied throughout the system. BigSIS already stores a lot of information about people (name, gender, birthday, etc.), donations (donation amount, donation date, donor, etc.), inquiries and applications (parent/guardian, school year and program interested in, etc.) and other kinds of records right out of the box. However, despite how much BigSIS can already store, we recognize that your school may need to store additional information that may be important to you. BigSIS allows you to customize any of these records by adding any custom fields you’d like to nearly any record or form in the system so you can keep track of all the information you will ever need. Within this system you can create text or html fields, checkmarks, date or number fields, as well as custom drop-down lists.
Multi-Page Form Engine
Our Multi-Page Form Engine allows you to build forms for your portal that are comprised of multiple pages or sections that users “step” through progressively. This allows you to send forms to your community (e.g., parents, students, teachers, volunteers, etc.) that they can fill out online in their BigSIS portal from anywhere at any time convenient to them. You may even set up deadlines for completing these forms. Each page of the the multi-page form can be set up to contain any set of fields you’d like your users to fill out. Choose from a set of predefined and commonly used fields, such as fields pertaining to emergency contacts or the health information of a student, or come up with your own fields. When you add our predefined fields to these forms, any data currently in BigSIS for these fields will be pre-filled and any answers your users supply to these fields will update their most current information. For example, parents can be shown a list of all existing contacts for their child while they are filling out the form. They can then either confirm that the list is up-to-date, add a brand new contact, edit an existing contact or delete the contact altogether. You may use this tool to allow your users to update household information, health conditions, vaccines, medications, and much more. You can also collect images and documents, permissions and various other types of information. This is only the underlying engine, however, and you will need one of the three modules that build on this (Online Applications, Online Contracts or Form Requests with Fees) in order to use it.
Our SchoolMessenger Files are great if you use SchoolMessenger to communicate via phone or SMS messaging with your community. BigSIS can provide you with files you can use to synchronize with SchoolMessenger. You may then send these files to SchoolMessenger so that SchoolMessenger has the latest contact information for all your parents, students, and employees. The one downside to the aforementioned method is that you will need to manually generate these files and send them to SchoolMessenger whenever a change is made to your contact list. For a small yearly fee, the BigSIS team can save you the hassle and bypass the manual process by setting up and maintaining the automated posting of these files to SchoolMessenger directly on a nightly basis. Contact us if you are interested in hearing more about this supplemental option.
Saved Templates are combined with Custom Form Fields & Drop-down Lists to allow you to extend different areas of the database with customized data and layouts. For example, you can apply a template to an event and that allows you to enter different information about that event into a simple form and decide how that information will be displayed to the public. Templates can also be used to store emails you would like to be able to generate quickly again and again or thank you letters for donations.
Users & Permissions
Our Users & Permissions system allows you to create as many users as you need (see Unlimited Users below) and every user will automatically have access to the portal where they can update their information. Any users can also be granted access to the admin area of BigSIS. Permissions in the portal are automagic and are based on the person’s role in the school. If the user is a parent of a current student, she will automatically see her children’s records and have access to school directories, documents, forms and much more. If she is a donor, she can see her donations and make payments on outstanding pledges. If she is a teacher, she will also see her current courses and can do her grading, write academic evaluations, track assignments and much more. In the BigSIS admin, however, permissions are explicit: any user can be granted access to one or more areas and can be limited from seeing other information. The registrar, for example, can see people, admissions, registrations, calendars and a few other things, but can be blocked from seeing donations or having access to any of the advanced areas, such as user or email account management. When a user logs into the admin, all the areas they don’t have permission to view will be hidden from them, giving them a nice clean admin with only the options they need and use.
BigSIS has Data Exporting capability from every area of the database. Combine this with your Filter & Query Builder (see above) to generate really specific lists of the data you need and then export that data with the BigSIS export wizard. From the export wizard, you may choose which fields to export (e.g., first name, last name, and email address but not address information). You can also easily create an export template that includes what you’d like each field to be named in the export and the order of the fields. Then, come back to the export wizard at any time and select from your saved templates or select new fields to export.
With our various built-in Utilities, you can keep your data clean and perform tasks that would otherwise be very time-consuming. Turn your graduating class into alumni, including making their student records inactive or find and merge records for the duplicate people, addresses, student records, etc. The BigSIS utilities also includes checking data in various parts of the system and streamlining it to keep it consistent and clean.
Filter & Query Builder
The Filter & Query Builder module you have access to in BigSIS will be one of your most exciting and powerful new tools! Many of the other tools in BigSIS help you get information into the system to store and track it. But what happens when you need to access that information or use it in practical ways? The Filter & Query Builder is the bridge that lets you use your information in truly powerful ways. For example, let’s say you are running a new development campaign and would like to reach out to potential donors to raise funds for this new campaign. Suppose you define potential donors as people who are former students (i.e., alumni) who have donated in the past. With the Filter & Query Builder you can create a filter in BigSIS to generate a list of alumni who have donated in the past. What if you want to get even more specific? No problem. You can create any of the following filters in BigSIS:
- Male alumni who graduated between 1990 and 2000, who currently live in Boulder, CO, and who have donated in the past
- Donors who gave more than $800 to the annual fund last year and more than $5000 total over the past 10 years but have yet to give at all this year
- People who like chocolate ice cream
Once you use your Filter & Query Builder to generate the list you need, you may then use other tools in BigSIS to view each record on the list one by one, export the list to a spreadsheet, search within the list, create mailing labels for each person or household, or send a customized email to each person.
Our Health Information area allows you to track health conditions, medications, vaccinations, health permissions and insurance information for any person in your database. Parents can update the information for their children at any time from the BigSIS portal or you can compel them to update and confirm this information before each school year via our Online Form Requests with Fees module.
Use the Report Viewer to generate any of the growing list of reports that BigSIS offers for each area of the database. Reports can be customized by using built-in parameters to tweak how and what data is displayed on reports. BigSIS even allows you to save your choices as templates to help you avoid the hassle of having to re-select all the parameters the next time you run the same report. Reports can be printed, viewed inside of BigSIS, or exported to PDF, Excel, Word or HTML. Some reports, such as student reports and transcripts, can even be sent to the parent portal (at a time of your choosing) so your students’ parents can have access to their children’s reports from anywhere, at any time.
The Resource Management add-on for managing your resources is a great way to make sure you don’t double-book things like classrooms or equipment. Set up any resources you may need (e.g., school vans, video projectors, laptops, classrooms, etc.) and then allow your team to reserve them for events. If someone on your team tries to reserve a resource that is already reserved for another event at the same time, BigSIS will warn the team. This will let you know, for example, that the school van you had hoped to use for a sporting event is already being used for a class trip.
Create Tasks for yourself or a coworker and have them show up on your BigSIS tasks calendar or feed them to your Google Calendar. Tasks can be tied to leads, as well, which is a very handy way to keep on top of the various things that need to happen for a lead as it goes through the various steps from first contact through enrollment.
At BigSIS we believe that having more users is better for you, not worse! So why would we charge per user? We don’t! You may have Unlimited Users logged into the system as you need at any time. Each user will be taking advantage of the great features we offer and making the system better through their use. We want BigSIS to be your central location for all your data and we believe that the more people who use the system, the more that will happen.
Our Single Sign-On option allows users to link their Google or Facebook accounts with BigSIS and then log in with a single click. This is optional; users can elect to log in via BigSIS via other methods. This optional method of logging in, however, has become very common among major websites because it is very user-friendly. This means users don’t need to remember yet another username and password. This can be setup at signup or at any time via the My Account area of BigSIS.
Our Data Importing tools give you the ability to bring data into BigSIS with ease. We have imports for individuals, couples, families, companies, donations, employees, calendars, tasks and more. Click to download a “starter file” right from within BigSIS. This file will give you all the latest field names in a ready-to-import file. Simply copy your data into this file or copy the field names from this file into the spreadsheet that has your data. Then load that file up and import it directly into BigSIS. We also give you a sandbox/testing site (see below) so you can do as many test runs as you need before you run your final import into your live site.
The History Logs system keeps track of all changes to every record in the database, when it was made and by whom. This includes changes to data within a record as well as deletion of records. This allows you to view the full history of any record over time.
Runtime Filter Parameters
The Runtime Filter Parameters module is another exciting new feature which extends the power of your Filter & Query Builder in BigSIS. This module allows you to edit certain pieces of data at the time you use the filter. For example, suppose you create a filter to see a list of people who live in California that donated more than $500 last year. That’s a fine filter to use whenever you want a list of donors from California who gave over $500 last year but what if you want to see donors from Oregon? Or donors who gave over $1000? Or donors who gave two years ago? In many other systems, you’d have to go and create entirely new filters for each of these lists. In BigSIS, it’s so much easier because you can change the parameters of your filter on the fly. You create one single filter and then edit its parameters at the time you run the filter itself.
With our MailChimp Integration, you can synchronize any group of people from BigSIS to a segment in any list in your MailChimp account. In BigSIS you can generate powerful lists of your records (see our Filter & Query Builder module) and with MailChimp Integration, you may then send that list to MailChimp to create a brand new segment (e.g., parents of alumni who donated last year) or update an existing segment in your MailChimp account.
Our “rubric-style” Grading Matrixes are customized grading grids that allow parents to visually see how their child is doing in various different areas of a course. So instead of just seeing a single grade, they can actually see how their child performs in a more detailed way. In an English course, for example, you may create a matrix to evaluate students in the following four major criteria: Writing, Grammar, Reading & Comprehension and Oral Presentation. You may then break down each criteria into further components for evaluation. For example, the writing criterion may be evaluated on the basis of a student’s organization of materials, range of expression, and development of theme. For each of these 3 components, teachers may choose to use a scale to evaluate the student (e.g., Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, Good or Excellent). These scales are customizable so you and your teachers can work together to design one that works for you and each teacher or course can have its own scale or you can share scales between multiple courses. You may set up as many different matrixes as you like, each with different customized criteria and components. These Matrixes give the parents a very nice and visual way to see the overall performance of their child.
Financial Management & Invoices
Financial Management & Invoices is an underlying financial system in BigSIS that allows for invoices to be created for gifts and pledges, as well as tuition deposits. Customized payment plans can then be setup for any invoice and adjusted as needed. When integrated with our Integrated Email system, it can be used to send out payment reminders or confirmations. Users can go online and see outstanding invoices and make payments right through the secure BigSIS portals!
Tags and Notes
Tags and Notes are exactly what they sound like and they can be used throughout the system. Anything that makes sense to be tagged can be and anywhere it makes sense to store a note, you can! For example, you may create a tag for ‘board member’ and attach that tag to several people. Then, when you are pulling your lists of donors, you can filter them by the ‘board member’ tag so that your list contains only donors who are tagged as a ‘board member.’ Tag a course as being ‘outside’ and then pull a list of students who have courses which are outside during a certain semester so you can email their parents to remind them to send in their permission forms (or email the students to remind them to bring a rain jacket). In addition to tags, you may also apply unlimited HTML notes to any record. Choose whether to keep a note private so that you alone have access to it or share it with other admin users. Notes can include links, pictures, bullet points, titles, and other rich text formatting.
The My Account area of the portal allows any user to update their information. They can add, update, or remove addresses, phone numbers, emails addresses. They may also update their password or manage a connection to their Google or Facebook account for easy login. Administrators can be alerted of any updates made by users via email so you are updated on all changes made (see Alerts below).
Our System Work engine can perform predefined tasks for you on a regular basis. Examples include running utilities, checking for certain information and sending an email with a summary of that data, or other mundane tasks which must be completed on a regular basis.
Our Alerts system allows you to pick from a list of actions that occur (e.g., a new inquiry is made, a parent updated emergency contact information, a new donation came in, etc.) and have emails sent to you or anyone else on your team. If someone updates their address via the portal, for example, there may be 3 or 4 people on your team who would like to receive an email with the old information, the new information and the person who made the change. Separately, your development team may want to be alerted when a donation comes through and the alert for an online inquiry should go to yet a different team. These teams (or ‘distribution lists,’ as we call them) can contain as many people as needed and any person can be part of multiple lists.
You will receive both a live site as well as a Sandbox/Testing Site. This will give you a copy of your database to do test imports, play with your data, set up forms, run test donations, and lots more with no consequences. Any time you need, we can push your live data to your sandbox so that you are always able to play with and test BigSIS with your most up-to-date data. Changes you make in your sandbox will never be pushed back to your live site, so anything you do in your sandbox can never hurt your live installation. It’s great for learning and testing.