The chances are, you didn’t want to work in childcare to spend hours doing paperwork. However, the reality is that many nurseries are still heavily reliant on paper-based administration to manage their data. As the number of children in your setting grows – so does the number of files, and with that comes the time it takes to manage them all.
In addition, as settings are trying to adapt to ‘the new normal’, they are striving to be as hygienic as possible in all areas of the business. Managing data, pulling reports and communicating with parents are all areas that must not be compromised; so finding a new way to manage these areas of the business can be challenging. If you’re used to this way of working, it’s difficult to know exactly where to start when it comes to moving away from paper – it’s hard to find the time to do the research, and quite often, difficult to know where to start. We look at many of the common questions relating to going paperless and give six and a half really good reasons why you should take the plunge!
1. Get back to providing great childcare
All those minutes spent updating different systems and folders soon add up, until you’ve spent many hours each month carrying out tasks which could have been completed at a few clicks of a button. Updating data in this way is a long and manual process, open to errors that can easily take 2 days to complete. Many nurseries report that they save days of staff time every month with the invoicing capability of nursery management software alone. A system that enables you to produce professional looking invoices at the click of a couple of buttons can save you those 2 days, which is 24 days, or a whole working month, every year! That alone is worth the investment for most childcare businesses.
Good nursery software will limit the time you spend on administration, by reducing the number of steps it takes to carry out something like changing a booking pattern. When you update one part of the system, all the other areas will automatically update as part of the process, too.
2. Keep all your data secure by storing it ‘in the cloud’
Paper documents are not nearly as secure as you’d think. They can be lost, stolen or even have a cup of coffee spilt over them! If the very worst was to happen, such as your nursery being damaged by floods, toys can be replaced. However, the data relating to children and families that you’ve worked hard to build up over the years can be lost forever.
Using software means that all your data can be stored online and securely accessed by you, even if your computer is damaged or stolen. Secure nursery management software is built on platforms similar to online banking and you’ll even be able to lock down certain areas so they’re only visible to selected members of staff.
3. Do your bit for the environment
Think of all the invoices, records and letters you’ll no longer need to print on paper! Not only will this be money-saving for your business, it’s good for the environment too.
Although the primary concern for any parent is the quality of childcare they’ll receive, green credentials may provide your nursery with an edge over your competitors. Plus – you’ll be able to improve the working environment for staff as you can clear shelves and reduce the number of filing cabinets in your office.
4. Strengthen your partnership with parents
Nursery software should do more than just make your life easier, it should actively improve the service you give to parents. To start with, your system should be delivering professional-looking invoices and enable you to send letters to any group of parents you need. There should be a choice of printing these, or sending them by email, based on each parent’s preferences. Many systems can also be linked to a secure online parent portal, enabling them to see a read-only version of their child’s data. This means that parents can check all the important information related to their child (like contact details, allergies and medication) is correct.
But more than this, parents love to know how their children are getting on at nursery. Great systems will allow you to strengthen that connection by recording activities during the day, along with things like meal times and nappy changes, and record them against the children that took part. Some systems will offer an app you can download and view this key information, together with photos and videos. You can then email a daily report to parents at the end of each day, which they browse through at their leisure and share with family and friends.
5. Save money for your setting
On the face of it, investing in nursery software when money is tight seems like an option not worth taking and the preference would be to stick with paper-based administration. Most systems require an initial set-up fee, as well as a subscription fee. However, when you look at the savings you can make, the value of that investment soon becomes clear. A web-based system allows you to keep records on children, staff and suppliers, and to send invoices by email instead of paper. You’ll also be able to make use of that extra space in your office without all those folders and filing cabinets.
Successful cash flow is the key to running a thriving nursery, and this is where the investment in a quality nursery software really starts to pay off. By simply capturing everything that’s being delivered, and billing it accurately, many settings report a 5-7% increase in turnover. Add to this a comprehensive debt tracking solution and the savings really start to pile up! The best systems even have an option to automatically add late payment fees, which encourages timely payments and means less of those awkward conversations with parents.
6. Reach the people that matter
In the past, leaflet drops and posters have been great for drumming up interest in your nursery. Nowadays, however, most people start their search for local businesses online. Save on the cost of paper by creating a simple website, with some well-written information about your nursery and some vibrant images. Instead of spending money on advertising that will reach people who aren’t looking for childcare, you’ll only be presenting yourself to those with a genuine interest – it’s a win win!
Remember….The real benefit of using nursery software is the gift of time. Spending just one day a week on administration equates to well over 2 months of the year wasted on non-productive activities. Just think what you could achieve by having all those extra hours back and spending all that extra time doing the things you love; looking after the children in your care!
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