As more and more nurseries are making the switch from paper-based management, they’re looking for a paperless, digital nursery management system that makes their work easier each day. There are plenty of options out there, so how do you choose the right one?
First, it’s important to understand that no two systems are the same. Many digital nursery management systems may share some similarities; however, the differences may have a larger impact on your work.
So, we’ve created a guide on what to look for when choosing software for your early year’s facility. If you’re just now changing over to a paperless system or you’d like to change from your current system, this guide can help you find the right software.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when searching for digital nursery management software:
Pay attention to what others are saying: do some research on social media platforms, such as Facebook and online forums. There you can ask questions and hear what others have to say about their experiences with different systems.
Don’t compromise your requirements: not every system will work for everyone. So, it’s a good idea to create a list of your facility’s needs before you start the search. That way, you can find software that fits your unique requirements.
Think of the parents: choosing software that’s easy to use and makes parents feel involved can make a big difference in your reputation with current and potential parents.
Support & training: Does the provider offer quality training resources and on-demand customer support? You may be able to find out by talking with current customers.
Find the hidden costs: keep in mind that some system providers may require extra costs. These may include set-up fees, training, and more.
Does it work everywhere: does the software work across all devices?
Ease of use: is the system easy and intuitive to use?
Can you handle billing: billing can be a challenge for some systems, especially with the variety of ways billing can be handled. Make sure you check that your method of billing is available in the software.
Can you escape: does the provider have a fixed contract, or do they charge a penalty for leaving the software if it doesn’t work?
The Core Elements
Each software has its own system, so it’s essential to consider the basics of each system you consider. The key is to choose software that has the core elements you need. It’s also important to focus on digital nursery management software that makes your work faster and easier. Spending more time on a new system wastes your time and money.
Here are some of the core elements to look for in digital nursery management software:
The software should make it easy to record observations, view learning journals, and do any necessary checks or baseline assessments.
Thankfully, it’s no longer necessary to carry around a large address book with each parent’s contact details! The software you choose ought to make contact easy via direct messaging. Other features here should include sharing photos/videos, updates, and more.
Invoicing & Public Funding
Sending out invoices is not a fun task, and it can take quite a while, especially when you have so many other things to do in the nursery. Try to find software that can quickly batch-generate invoices based on the children’s booking patterns and public funding, which should be accounted for.
Ratios & Room Planning
Determining staff-to-child ratios is essential with young children. So, you may want to consider a digital system that takes care of this; you’ll save hours of time to use for other tasks.
The software you choose also needs to collect, analyze, and reflect on accident and incident reports to give you an overview of events happening within the nursery.
Daily Child Logs
Digital nursery management software also needs to make it easy to keep daily child logs in a journal-like system. It’s much faster to keep track of nappy changes, snacks, meals, and nap times.
Another feature to look for is a cloud-based platform. These systems work across devices and keep everything updated in real time. This helps staff and parents have a consistent view of what’s going on in the nursery, and you avoid double-data entry.
Sometimes eventually goes wrong, or you need help with a new feature, so it’s a good idea to choose software that offers access to customer service. This may include access to support articles and show detailed information within the app.
Finally, the software you choose should offer a place to save important files, with different access based on staff roles. This makes it easier to collaborate with your team, share policies, and more.
Additional Features That Are Nice to Have
Some digital nursery management software also offers extras that gain make your work even easier. Here’s a list of additional features that are nice to have but not necessary:
Customised Reporting & Analytics
Some systems do track the data generated by the nursery. This data is highly valuable as it can help you make more informed decisions about your business.
Some of the data tracked can include:
- Advanced debt & revenue forecasting
- Occupancy analysis to predict & improve future capacity
- And more
Inquiries & Waiting Lists
These features make it easy to centralize data about potential parents, manage these relationships, communicate, and plan ahead for the children who may soon attend your nursery.
Registering children is easier when it is digitised. Registering is one of the busiest times of the day. Software with this feature makes it faster for parents to check themselves in.
Parent Requested Care
Parents may request extra sessions, lunches, and more. This is a great way to increase revenue and fill vacancies. This feature makes it easier and faster for parents to request the care their children need.
Holiday, Sickness, and Permission Requests
Requests and notifications from current parents for holidays and sick leave come in from all directions. However, nursery management software could centralize these requests and notifications to ensure the staff and parents don’t miss important information.
In-app Payment Handling
Many parents no longer pay with cash these days. They rely on digital payments that can be handled by some nursery management software. In-app payments offer a smoother experience for parents.
Some of the more tasks that are done each day can be a huge drain on staff working hours. But nursery management software may be able to take care of these tasks with the touch of a button. The tasks become automated and save you and your staff hours of tedious work.
Summing It Up
The key is to search for digital nursery management software that fits your needs. So, write down the core elements of what you need, and then create a second list that has “nice to haves.” That way, you’ll be more focused on the elements you need and avoid software that has plenty of bells and whistles you don’t need. That can save you money, and you’ll have the right software for your business.