November 2, 2017
Managing a child care center is a tricky business, there is no question about it; throw “high-quality” into the mix and things get even harder! As Director of Operations here at NECC, software and data are my specialty, and one often overlooked, but vital piece to a successful, well-managed child care center (big or small) is a proper data management system. Software systems for child care providers come in all shapes and sizes, but selecting the right one can make all the difference from being cumbersome yet necessary evil, to being a helpful tool utilized to improve quality and decrease downtime.
The primary purpose of data management systems is to help with day-to-day operations. They give staff and owners more time with children, and they provide the peace of mind that your data will always be safe and secure. I have worked in software and data management systems for more than 15 years, and in this experience I have gained a lot of insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what a child care provider needs to know before they dive into a new piece of software.
Selecting Software Systems for Child Care Providers
Here are my 7 questions to ask yourself when considering a new data management system (or any other software):
- First of all, how are you tracking the required information now? What are the challenges with that?
- What are your short and long-term business plans? Are you a smaller center with plans to expand in the future?
- What are the various skill levels of potential users with regard to learning and managing new systems/software?
- What technology do you currently have or plan to have access to? (Internet, computers) Will this system be installed onto the computer or would you want it in the “cloud” so it is accessible anywhere?
- Do you have time to “test drive” a system, or do you need something up and running as soon as possible?
- Will there be someone locally that can help you if you are in need of support? Or will you have to call a 1-800 number for technical assistance? This includes both start-up and ongoing support!
- What are others in the industry using? Do you have anyone that would be willing to answer your questions or give you recommendations?
The Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative works hard to provide child care centers with the right tools to run their business. Consider taking a look at the Nebraska Early Childhood Exchange or visiting The Exchange website. We provide countless tools to members and tune them specifically for Nebraska’s child care providers. When you find yourself in the market for software, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask for advice. Most importantly, if you ever have any questions or would like to learn about the different ways NECC can help your organization, contact us anytime!