With so many child care management software options available, the process of choosing a software that best fits your programs needs can be daunting. We have put together a few questions to guide you through the decision making process.
1. What are my goals?
When choosing a child care management software, the first thing you will want to ask yourself is “what am I looking to get out of this software?” Child care software’s vary in features. What is right for one program, may not be for another. This list below displays some of the key features offered by child care management services. Evaluate and choose the features that will help you achieve your goals.
Key Child Care Management Software Features:
- Sign In and Out
- Parent Signatures
- Attendance Tracking and Reports
- Staff Clock In-Out
- Security Notifications
- Online Billing and Invoicing
- Daily Sheets and Reports
- Photo Sharing
- Calendar Management
- Emergency Text Blasts
- Ouch Reports
- Marketing Features
- Integration Services
- Tech Support
- Employee Management
- Food Program Records
- Child health records
- Online Registration
- Parent Portal
- Wait List Management
- Menu Planning
2. What is my budget?
During the decision making process evaluate the importance of price. If cost is important, then decide which features you would be willing to give up for a lower price. Here are a few tips on coming up with a budget that works for you:
- How much time and money will the software save you? Depending on the type of program you are running, various features will not only make your job easier, but actually save you time. Evaluate the amount of time you spend on certain tasks (attendance tracking, auditing sign in and out sheets, filling out daily sheets, ect.) Doing this will allow you to see the value of certain software features.
- How much can you realistically spend? Regardless of the value of certain features, some software programs may simply be too pricey for your particular program. Decide on a maximum price you can afford.
- Are there ways to save? Many child care software programs offer special discounts and deals. Be sure to ask your child care software of interest about any discounts available.
3. How easy is it to use?
While every new program may have a small learning curve, you should not find the system extremely confusing to use. Using a child care management software is supposed to make things easier, not harder. To evaluate how easy the program is to use, try signing up for a free trial or request a demo.
Many companies provide the option of testing out their services to help in the decision making process. Be wary of companies that do not allow you to first test out your service. You want to make sure the software you chose will work for your program’s needs, and this is one of the best ways to evaluate this.
4. What level of customer support is offered?
The child care software you choose should provide instructional resources , help guide you in the set up process, and answer all common questions. Aside from these basic customer support needs, there are many additional levels of customer support offered by child care software companies.
Depending on your programs needs and the size of your program, you may need the assurance that you will be provided top quality customer service. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating the customer support options:
- What time of day is support offered?
- What is their average response time?
- Do they provide video tutorials?
- Do they offer training if needed?
- What methods of contact are provided (e-mail, phone, text, instant messaging)?
5. Do they listen to their customer’s needs?
The tech world has exploded over the last two decades. 20 years ago you would practically never find child care programs using a child care management software, but today it is an incredibly valuable tool used by many. As technology continues to develop, as do the needs of programs.
When deciding to choose a software program, investigate the growth of the company. Are they continually adding new features, or have they stayed the same? It is valuable to work with a company that values innovation, and is constantly listening to their customer’s needs.
If you find that a child care software does not have a feature you desire, let them know. This is a great way to gauge how they handle customer requests, as well as letting them know what features you desire.
6. What is the deployment of the child care management software?
When it comes to child care software companies, there are typically two options available: Web based or Installed.
Web based software runs on a web browser. You need an internet connection to access the child care software. This secure method of deployment allows for users to access their information from anywhere at anytime.
Installed software is installed on a particular computer or laptop. Some installed software may require you to purchase additional hardware or pay to add the software to multiple computers. If you are going with this method of deployment, be sure to check if any additional hardware or software will need to be purchased to avoid any surprise costs.