Choosing the best software for nursery management

June 20, 2022

The right early years software can make or break your setting.

The right early years software can make or break your setting.
Best software for nursery management
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In a rush? Here’s the quick run-down.

  • Picking the right nursery management software is a big decision, but it’s a critical one. In this story, we’ll go through the key things to look for.
  • Your first priority is making sure the system helps you focus on child development, as children are at the centre of all your work. Pay attention to features for making observations and scaffolding growth.
  • Parent communications, finance and billing, and privacy are key areas too. Good nursery management software will meet your way of working, rather than forcing you to adapt to it.

The right software can do absolute wonders for your nursery business. It not only provides a less-stressed work environment for everyone, but also helps the staff to deal with their day-to-day tasks more proficiently. 

With a growing demand for these software solutions, there are a lot of options out there to pick from. Yet it’s crucial to choose your tools carefully — or switch to a new one after careful consideration. 

How are nursery owners supposed to choose? What are the pain points with your current software, if you are using one?

Each early years software offers elements that can impact your time management, parent partnerships, customer support, and other vital parts of your day-to-day work. That’s why it’s crucial to identify what features matter most to you, and look for those aspects when choosing nursery software that will suit your setting best.

So let’s talk about what to keep an eye out for, when you’re choosing early years software.

Putting child development at the very centre

Above all, the core intention of going digital with your EY setting is to boost your focus on child wellbeing.

Translated into software, that means giving you an easy-to-use tool that records quick observations, obligatory assessments, and checks to maximise the quality of your care. If you aren’t getting that from your current (or future) software, it might not be a good fit in the long run.

With personalised and detailed profiles for individual children, good nursery software allows you to record your day-to-day care moments as well as key developmental milestones in children’s lives. Recording this should be easy — you shouldn’t be completely drawn away from your real-life work with the children. Learning journals and child profiles should be within easy reach, and simple enough to make observations a breeze.

From meal times to nappy updates and allergies, early years software accounts for all the record-keeping in a digital journal that helps run your setting smoothly.

It also creates more time for connecting with children, so you can focus on your relationships instead of stacks of files and spreadsheets. At the end of the day, what matters most is how these digital tools support child development at your nursery.

Making parent communications the best they can be

Two-way quality communication between you and the parents is another vital requirement that elevates your EY setting. Long gone are the days of a hefty address book to contact parents and discuss their child’s development every week. 

For instant contact and messaging, it’s essential to have good digital software for your EY setting to bring the discussion into one place. After all, it’s easier for your staff members to handle parent messaging through a dedicated portal, rather than using their own mobile phone or Facebook account.

Nursery software should be easy to access for parents, and make it simple for you to share those key moments from their child's day. It should provide a parent portal where parents can easily communicate regarding their child, and you can respond quickly with just a few taps to save time. 

Parent communication is at the core of this. Sharing pictures and videos of their child is a great way to take the parents on the journey of their child’s development. Being able to send video clips, images, or just simple notes to share those everyday moments can make a world of difference for the parents in your community. It's hard to overstate how meaningful photo sharing can be for parents.

A strong connection with parents means happy customers, and it can effortlessly increase your nursery's reputation, too. If you're known for great parent engagement, that can be a conclusive factor for prospective parents looking for a nursery.

Parent communication can happen anywhere with the right nursery management software

Fine-tuned finances: Saving time and boosting cash flow

Dealing with nursery billing and invoicing is one of the biggest administrative tasks for a nursery. You likely know all too well how it requires a lot of your attention and valuable time.

But an efficient and flexible software system can shoulder a lot of the work for you, and make your cash flow come more easily.

Here are some key features you should look for, which can make the biggest difference:

  • Enabling speedy invoicing with editable features, adjustable based on children’s booking and funding status 
  • Easily able to incorporate discounts, additional service fees or funding if available
  • Able to send financial documents to parents in the legally required format for your area 
  • Billing automation with integrated payment collection, so parents can pay tuition directly from their mobile phone

When it comes to something as critical as finances, you’ve got to make sure your software solution is a perfect fit. If you’d like to learn some more about all the ways a good nursery management system can save time and ease your budgeting, you can read all about it here

Easier occupancy planning through software

Occupancy planning, room and staff rotas, schedule arrangements, session distributions — all these plannings are easy to map out with a nursery management system. This is another big area for you to save hours in your week.

An occupancy planner is one of the best features to look for in nursery software, as it allows you to see a complete visual of the sessions booked, with available spaces and other requirements. That makes it easy to schedule your team, track attendance and stick to ratios.

Plus, it can even help you find space to enrol additional children.

A good nursery management system should also go the extra mile and show a sorted chart of rooms for you to plan future sessions, or report on upcoming occupancy in advance. It undoubtedly minimises the pressure of planning everything at once, as it allows access to all information on one screen. 

These occupancy, availability, and ratio features in an EY software solution reduce the need for double data entry and working in multiple spreadsheets. Utilise this time in making decisions on how to target and improve your occupancy and eventually boost your revenue.

The big ideas

What are the red flags of bad nursery software?

If your staff can’t adapt to your current nursery management system, it’s important to reflect on why that might be. Or if your parents aren't happy with it, that's just as much of an issue.

Is your staff underusing the current nursery software or avoiding it altogether? A bad user interface with complicated steps could be one of the reasons. Nursery administration is already a hectic business, so you don’t want any additional stress points during the day. 

Good software should do just what you need, and nothing more — so you've got more time left for the children.

Bad nursery management systems fail to adapt to the way your business works. If the software isn’t open to customisation, it can cause problems in managing daily tasks. You should have room to edit or create fields, personalise your schedule and curriculum, or adjust the way invoicing or sending notifications to parents can change from nursery to nursery. 

If the software fails to integrate with the other systems you are using in your program, this can cause problems on the way as well.

Better security for your nursery business

Another essential feature that should be part of your nursery software is its data protection and security policies. When you’re working with information like medical records and billing details, you can’t be too careful.

That’s why it’s necessary to let a secure, up-to-date security management system take charge of protecting your sensitive data.

While choosing nursery software, look through their website to ensure how they focus on data storage and security. Moreover, for a credible and better understanding of the data collected, your nursery software should be GDPR compliant, which helps run the setting smoothly.

Make your business GDPR compliant with the right nursery management software

Time focusing: Is your software moving and growing with you?

If your current software requires continuous refreshes and countless updates to change a little information, it might be time to switch to a new one. These digital tools should make the workflow smoother instead of taking extra time. 

To distinguish between different providers, always look for how quickly they integrate real-time updates across other devices. It’s essential to have a swift automatic integration system so that if educators update any information, the parents can easily access it on their own devices. It should also provide an autosave feature that allows you to make the changes and exit with no extra thought.

Whether it's clear parent communication, easier administrative processes or a better bottom line for your nursery business, good digital tools can make all the difference.

If you're considering trying out a new software solution, or switching to a new one, ask yourself these questions:

  • How would you rate your staff’s adoption of the current nursery management system? 
  • Do you trust the reports generated by your system? 
  • Do you feel you could use more help in keeping parents connected?
  • Are you continually having issues with your system? 
  • Does your system provide you with a reliable forecast?
  • Does your system facilitate and streamline critical business processes? 
  • Does your system store data? If so, is the capacity enough for you?
  • Can your system adapt to your needs?

Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

Picture of a Guidance document
UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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Find out below how Famly ensured the Alphabet House team felt well-supported in communicating with parents about finances and bookings, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

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“We can pop parents messages and for staff to log for children, it used to be quite time consuming taking time away from the children to sit and write feedback or approach parents and give a lot of feedback." - Shanice Hollier, L&D Manager, Alphabet House

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Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly ensured the Alphabet House team felt well-supported in communicating with parents about finances and bookings, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

Sign up now

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly ensured the Alphabet House team felt well-supported in communicating with parents about finances and bookings, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

Sign up now

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly ensured the Alphabet House team felt well-supported in communicating with parents about finances and bookings, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.

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