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The Childcare Management Blog

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Childcare Software

Posted by EZChildTrack Team on Feb 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM

reason to get childcare software

It never pays to rush your selection of childcare software. There are solutions available with a wide variety of features and functionality; you need to decide ahead of time what problems you need to be solved so you can put together a list of requirements before hitting the search button. 

Before you begin your first internet search, sit down with your staff and ask for feedback on current processes. Identify bottlenecks, weaknesses of your current software (if you have any), and also think outside your processes to other problems you and your staff experience. It’s possible a new software solution could resolve some of those as well. 

Here are four things you and your staff should consider when selecting childcare management software.

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Required Capabilities 

What must the software do, regardless of all else? Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

  • Streamline operations by eliminating bottlenecks. 
  • Automate repetitive tasks. 
  • Provide flexible reports for everything from attendance to finances. 
  • Speed communications between your facility and the parents. 
  • Quickly and easily record staff hours, menus, and more. 
  • Store customer data including current phone number and immunization status 

The primary reasons for switching from manual processes to software-driven operations are to save time and reduce error. Also, automation provides the ability to see how your business is operating in real-time. 

Think about the work that gets backed up. Maybe you are behind on processing payments or sending invoices. Perhaps meal-planning and recording take up more time than expected. Check-in and check-out are always chaotic. These are three areas the right software can eliminate lengthy and paper-heavy tasks that require time that could be better used planning fun activities for your kids. 

As parents become increasingly tech-savvy, the expectation is spreading that any vendor they deal with will offer some form of electronic communications or payment processing. These are just two capabilities that could mean the difference between someone choosing your facility over another. 

Effective Implementation 

Find out how easily the new solution will integrate into any existing systems you have. If you are using a separate accounting package, do you need the childcare management software to be able to transfer information back and forth freely? If you will be replacing a system, how easy will it be to transfer data from the old system to the new one? 

Customization is another area to consider. Most software solutions can be customized to fit a variety of users. Implementation will be less stressful if you can be assured of assistance in optimizing the solution to your business. Get it completed at the beginning to eliminate disruptions over the next few months with piecemeal changes. If you do not customize, you are not using the software to its highest capability. 

Training is an important detail. Training can be available as in-person education between your staff and a vendor representative, or it may come as a set of tutorials. What will work best for you and your team? Without adequate training, you could spend the first few months struggling to complete the implementation, causing tension with staff and parents alike. Any way you look at it, ensure training is part of the package. 

Finally, lock down the terms and conditions of service and support. 

  • How will service and support be provided - phone, self-service website, email, or chat? 
  • What hours are the various forms of service available? 
  • How many additional training hours will you receive for new hires? 
  • Will you pay extra for support outside of normal business hours? 

It’s better to understand your service options up front rather than be surprised with a surcharge for phone service or support after-hours. 

Software Delivery Options 

Software options include web-based solutions and client-side software. 

Web-based childcare software, also known as SaaS (software as a service) or cloud-based software, is stored online and accessed as a service via a web browser. There is no software installation on your business network, no installation CDs or downloads, and all updates are performed automatically as part of the service.  

Web-based solutions often offer unlimited data storage and automatic back-ups that are easily accessible when needed. Since all you need is a browser to use the software, you can access your records anywhere, anytime with any device.  

Client-side software is an application you purchase for installation on your office computer or server. There is no need for internet connectivity to use the software. However, you are also limited to the computer or network on which the software is installed. Remote access may be difficult or not possible. 

Which delivery option works best for your childcare business? 

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Financial Considerations of Childcare Software

Purchasing software can be costly, especially if you are investing in a complex solution with multiple applications. Client-side software, in particular, can be an expensive venture because you are typically asked to pay for the entire solution up-front, including charges for multiple licenses or users. You may also be charged for updates and upgrades can be another expense.  

Web-based childcare software is charged as a subscription, typically monthly or annually.  

  • The subscription fee covers everything from updates and back-ups to technical support and maintenance.  
  • You are not charged for the amount of data storage used, and you do not need to worry about maintaining off-site back-ups.  
  • Web-based software eliminates the need for on-site IT services.  

You don’t need to maintain your own computer and server network, nor must you pay for someone to keep it all running. The number of users doesn’t matter, either.  

Childcare management software can reduce the burden of administration significantly while offering capabilities for tasks you may not have been able to perform manually. Client retention is based on how smoothly you provide your service.  

Childcare software gets rid of bottlenecks during drop-off and pick-up. It helps you track demographics, menus, and immunization status. Invoices are accurately calculated and sent. Payment processing eliminates trips to the bank and follow-up on later payments. You can retrieve custom reports that show you how your business is performing at any time.   

If you are considering implementing a childcare management solution or upgrading from separate applications to a single solution, you can learn more about the capabilities and benefits of the software from our newest eBook 

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