Think differently

Comparing all-in-one vs specialist school admin systems

We compare the benefits of specialist school admin systems to the new all-in-one packages being offered by MIS providers.

In recent years, many MIS providers have branched out into other software applications, creating alternatives to specialist school admin systems. These information management suppliers are asking schools to transition to their new one-stop-shop package for everything from communications to bookings, to finance.

On the face of it, this seems like great news for schools. Wouldn’t a familiar user interface and fewer login credentials simplify daily tasks for school leaders, administrators and teachers? Surely having everything under one roof is easier? Well…

It may seem like a no-brainer at first, but we’ve heard from many schools who quickly came to regret switching to an all-in-one package. Despite these companies’ claims, time and time again, we see that no one system does everything well.

Just as a hammer won’t help you tighten a screw, using the wrong tool for school administration tasks can lead to wasted time, wasted money, and a lot of frustration for staff and parents. With the wealth of specialty products available to help schools succeed in specific tasks, it’s well worth checking how systems stack up before committing to a generalised, all-in-one package.

Here’s why specialist school admin systems can be better in the long-term:


In the current climate, keeping costs down is crucial for schools. And, logically, you would expect a package deal to be a cost-effective option. Some providers are even offering extra applications to schools ‘for free’ – an undeniably attractive proposition. However, as we all know, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Check the small-print

Be sure to investigate any hidden costs which may accompany these seemingly cheaper systems. Crucially, compare transaction rates; and are there monthly fees or service charges? You could find that the total cost ends up more than you had bargained for. Just like flying with a budget airline, these added extras soon mount up, so do read the small print.

Inefficient workflows = wasted staffing costs

It’s true that you get what you pay for. Cheap products are often a false economy in the long run. Staff pay is generally the single most expensive item in a school budget. In 2022-23, government figures show that staffing comprised over 75% of expenditure in Local Authority maintained schools. Time is money, and schools can’t afford to waste it due to ineffective systems and time-consuming processes. A truly cost-effective, dedicated solution will be more reliable and user-friendly. Running reports needn’t be a chore, utilising pre-loaded templates will help you analyse your data quickly.  


School leaders must always account for the risks when making business decisions. Beware of putting all your eggs in one basket, as this makes your school wholly reliant on one company, their systems and infrastructure. This creates several different risks.

Consider that any service outages, performance problems, slow-down at peak times, etc. may affect all services provided by that company. If you experience issues with your MIS, the harm may be amplified if your payments, bookings, or communications also fail at the same time.

Changing MIS providers in future is also more difficult if all your services are contained within the same system. Buying into one company’s products across the board makes it much harder for staff to adapt and learn new systems if you need to change MIS later on, for any reason. This can increase workload and stress at a critical time, or even prevent schools from switching to a better or cheaper system, for fear of the upheaval it will cause.

Risks may also arise from jumping into brand new applications which will not have undergone much peer review. This is especially hazardous where the provider is inexperienced in that niche. By comparison, Tucasi’s SCO system is in a mature system, tried and tested over decades by thousands of schools, and continually improved with the help of customer feedback.


Schools often contact us, regretting their decision to switch to a one-stop-shop, when they discover the feature-rich SCO system is not replicated by generalist software. Many can’t compete against the depth of functionality offered by specialty software produced by industry-leading experts with decades of experience.

We previously used Tucasi from 2018 to 2022. Due to circumstances, we had to change our online payment provider. We quickly realised how much we missed Tucasi, due to its ease and functionalities and have made the decision to return to Tucasi for September 2023.


Modern schools need the right tools to manage payments, finance, communications, parents’ evening, dinners, facility hire, wraparound care, clubs, school trips and forms. Given this wide range of services required, a lot of specialist knowledge is needed to create truly revolutionary solutions and maximise school efficiency.

Education insiders also know that one-size does not fit all. Schools come in all shapes and sizes, and have vastly different structures, requirements, priorities, and preferences. The flexibility to configure specialist school admin systems to your school’s individual needs is essential for smooth-running workflows.

Ease of use

It’s not just what you can do with a system that affects efficiency in school offices, but also how easy it is to complete any given task. A programme built on the back of an existing MIS system may not be well-designed for a different task. This can lead to inefficient and slow practices, impacting your school’s success.

On the other hand, seamless integration between your school’s MIS, payments and administration programmes do offer real benefits. Having these systems connected improves efficiency and saves time.

However, it isn’t necessary to confine your school to a single provider in order to achieve this. Most systems utilise a dynamic MIS link, keeping all your pupil and staff information up-to-date and accurate. In addition, links with all major cashless catering systems give schools and caterers the freedom to choose the till system that works best for them.

Some favourite SCO features:

  • Free parent app for ultimate convenience.
  • Manage multiple children from one parent account or link one child to multiple parents.
  • Flexible wraparound care: Use multiple breakfast or after school club price bands, with session codes for easy reconciliation. Record Childcare Vouchers and let CCV pupils book when not in credit. Allow same-day bookings if desired, and even add non-pupils.
  • Great dinner menu management: Upload menus, including photos for online pre-ordering. Easily set up menu cycles and one-day special menus.
  • Fully integrated communications makes debt chasing fast, easy and more secure.
  • Simpler trips and clubs: online forms for consent and other details, meaning no paper forms to be lost. You can even require form completion before parents can book or pay.
  • Smarter payments: Parents can get low-balance emails, see previous payments, use Monthly Billing to clear debt or top-up automatically, save card details, use Apple Pay or Google Pay.
  • Over 120 reports available at the click of a button help schools analyse data and make the most of every SCO module. Plus, great financial reporting makes reconciliation easy.

Download our handy checklist when you book a demo to help you easily compare systems.


Choosing specialist school admin systems means you aren’t beholden to one company for all your admin needs. This is especially important when it comes to customer service, support and training. If you sometimes struggle to get the help you need from your MIS provider, wasting hours or even weeks waiting for a resolution, you may shudder at the thought of becoming even more dependent on them.

It doesn’t have to be this way! At Tucasi, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our Technical Support team are there for customers every day, providing expert advice and fast resolutions, to help users succeed in their tasks as quickly as possible. We’re proud to offer a telephone helpline, as well as email support and a constantly updated library of how-to guides.

Our excellent service starts from day one, with bespoke training sessions delivered by real people, not videos. Plus, our trainers help schools configure the new system to suit their own, unique requirements.

If you’d like to learn how our specialised system for payments and administration can help your school or trust, speak to our friendly team today. Call 02380 016 563, email or book your free demonstration.

See how user-friendly our software is to manage your payments and admin efficiently.

One of our product experts will show you the system and our parent facing app in a live demonstration and answer any questions you may have.

There’s no obligation and you can ask us anything.

For parents: see link

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.