Likelihood to Recommend
We often had students who came and took a class or completed a program, left, and then came back for something else at a later time. It was nice to be able to have someone in Jenzabar SONIS with multiple statuses. They could be in as a Student for the current class while still being in as an Alumni for the program they had graduated from. Most of our programs are set up so the students within that program are all taking the same courses at the same time. The bulk registration feature made it easy to enroll one student and then use that student's enrollment to quickly enroll all of the others in the program. That was a huge time saver. We had letters and emails that we wanted to send out at specific times in the application process. The Activity tool in Jenzabar SONIS made it easy for us to have some things that were automatically added to a person's record and others that we could add as needed. We could then run timed letters or emails and get our communication sent out. We had some challenges with Jenzabar SONIS because we have a number of certificate programs that are only one semester in length. We often had students who would complete one certificate (program) in the fall and then complete another one in the spring. Many of the reports pulled data only for the active enrollment so we had to go back and manually pull the data for the enrollment from the other semester if we needed something for the full school year.
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A good, and constantly improving solution for private schools. I don't know that a lot of its functionality would be well suited to public schools, but maybe? The integration with other Blackbaud software is a huge plus for us, as we have several of their other products including their flagship Raiser's Edge. Smaller schools may not need the sophistication of Blackbaud solutions, and it is not an inexpensive option.
Read full review Pros Great value Built in reports are great, but it also has add on reporting that is fantastic. Hosting they offer is phenomenal nearly no downtime, ever! Read full review Seamless integration between the LMS, EMS and SIS modules Real-time, effective chat support helps me not only with urgent needs but also to work through possibilities for increasing how we use the product. Feature upgrades monthly that respond to voiced needs from users Read full review Cons SONIS sorts my advisees by class and then by name. This is NOT useful. There should be an option for sorting by name only. I advise almost fifty students. It wastes my time looking for them in the sophomore listing, then the junior listing...... When registration of a student for semester courses is complete, there should be an option to print out only the courses scheduled, NOT the entire page which shows available courses at the bottom. SONIS sometimes kicks me out for no reason. Read full review Forms - lack of conditional questions Gradebook -lack of links to assignments Not being able to customize displays, for example, Grading tab - we just finished 1st semester and teachers could only see the current quarter but not the 1st one which is still part of the first semester. Lack of customization in assessments. Scheduling- even though re-running generating schedules, we're still getting a high number of unscheduled students. Lack of being able to limit the number of scheduled classes in a row for teachers. Read full review Likelihood to Renew
It is a solid product. We have some issues with the capabilities of the website building components and the out dated technology behind its communications software but overall Blackbaud Education Management Software services to combine numerous functions into one product.
Read full review Usability
Blackbaud EMS is very usable from my perspective. I am a power user and get lots of valuable functionality. It is, however, a complex system. Sometimes necessarily complex to accommodate flexibility for diverse customer needs. Some complexity seems unnecessary and/or hold-over functionality from earlier versions; nice to see this type being evolved away from over time. It is valuable to receive regular updates to the system along with good release notes of what changed and notices of significant changes in advance.
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Decent support however the chat feature can take a great amount of time out of the workday. If for instance you are waiting for someone to respond in the chat and there is a fire drill, if you are not responding within a few minutes, you are disconnected and have to start all over again. It would be great if you could submit your problem and then whoever has the most experience, can respond. The training in the Blackbaud University is good but also time-consuming - a 3 hr training in the middle of a workday is a lot to ask. I like the 90-minute sessions. It would also be great to offer a shorter webinar to update on any changes implemented. Other than the email I subscribed to, there is no information on how these updates actually work.
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We changed databases in 2011 because the company we were with was going to quit supporting our software. We evaluated a number of different SISs available at the time and felt Jenzabar SONIS provided the best tools for our school. Most of the others were either geared more for adult education, individual course offerings or for schools that primarily had degree-seeking students. We needed something that could address both needs.We felt Jenzabar SONIS did that best of the ones we reviewed.
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Blackbaud K-12 is very similar. I feel like I would be trading one set of issues for another so it's kind of a wash. We are very much hooked into the Blackbaud website with our Google SSO, SmartTuition, and Schooldoc integrations. It would be difficult for us to transition. That is the main reason I haven't really entertained other web firms.
Read full review Return on Investment Facilitates grade input by faculty. Facilitates course enrollment by students. Facilitates viewing student records and determining progress to program completion. Read full review Negative - The rollout is brutal. Blackbaud said it could happen in 6 months, but that is definitely not a reality. It will take well over a year, and one complete school cycle to actually integrate everything correctly. Positive - The amount of time saved in data processing has allowed our office to become more involved in other areas of the school. Positive - The ease of having everything in [one] place, from inquiry to application to contracts and course registration, has been a HUGE benefit to our applicants and their families. Read full review ScreenShots Blackbaud Education Management Solutions Screenshots