With so many child care & daycare software programs, how can I find the best one for my needs?
Choosing child care management software is an important investment of time and financial resources, requiring research and careful consideration. To find and compare the best daycare software for your situation, consider the following items:
- Define your Goals: Which features and benefits of computer automation are most important to you? What types of child care & daycare administrative tasks take the most time? In which areas do you feel the management of your child care center could be streamlined or improved? How could daycare software help to simplify the management of your business?
- Features and Price: Before you begin your search, think about what features you will need in a child care software program. Are features or price the primary consideration? If the answer is price, are you willing to compromise services and features for lower price? What services do you need in addition to the software, for example, is an Automatic Payment Collection service available? Is company longevity and experience important to you? By asking these simple questions, you will be able to narrow your choices significantly. This will help you focus on a few daycare software programs that meet your criteria, rather than spending time weeding through many that don’t.
- Consultation: Each child care software company you contact should offer you access to a knowledgeable Software Consultant who will assist you in determining which areas of your child care business would best benefit from computer automation. In addition to being familiar with daycare & child care management issues, including billing and accounting, your consultant should clearly understand your particular goals and needs.
What should I request to evaluate & compare daycare programs?
At a minimum, request the following:
- A detailed outline of Daycare Software Pricing, Program Features and package discounts.
- Written information on Annual Support Costs, user fees or requirements for child care software updates and enhancements.
- Any additional fees that may be incurred later (network license fees or additional software licenses for use of the program at home or in additional child care or daycare centers, etc.)
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make direct comparisons between child care software products. Proper initial research will ensure an investment in the right child care program for your business, offering benefits for years to come.
How can I tell if a daycare software program is flexible & easy to use?
Since you’re the only one that can really determine if a daycare program is easy to use or flexible, insist on a Demonstration of the software. On one hand, you don’t want to limit yourself by purchasing a program that is so easy to use that it doesn’t allow for customization and future growth. On the other hand, you don’t want a program that is so customized that you need to be a computer expert to use it. Above all, if you have questions, make sure your consultant answers them completely.
Things to Consider:
- Ease of Use: First and foremost, make sure the daycare program you choose is easy to navigate. Can you retrieve reports and information quickly and easily? Do the buttons, menus and overall layout of the system make sense to you? How many steps must you go through in order to access important information? If the program is difficult to set up or use, this may dampen your enthusiasm, decreasing the likelihood of a successful implementation.
- Flexibility: Does the program offer the capability to create user-defined fields and reports? The child care management system you choose should be flexible enough for expansion and allow you to tailor the software to meet current and future management needs.
- Standard Features: What types of Standard Features are included with the daycare program? What things may cost extra?
- Additional Services: Does the company offer other services like Automatic Collection of Child Care Payments?
Is the reputation of the company behind the software important?
Absolutely. Child care management software programs are not created equal and neither are the companies who stand behind them. Company experience, stability and commitment play an integral role in the ongoing success, development and support of the child care software program you choose. The companies available to you are varied. Find out what services each company has to offer, the number of years in business, how frequently the software is updated and enhanced, and the size of the company’s user base as well as the company’s staff. Find out what people have to say (check third-party sites, like Capterra) who use the software on a regular basis. By asking these questions before you make your investment, you may save yourself some unpleasant surprises down the road.
What if I need help with my daycare software?
Your daycare software company should provide a variety of Tools to Help You Learn and successfully use your child care software program. The Software Manual should outline how to set up your program and enter data, and provide answers to basic questions. The program should also offer easily accessible Help files that address Frequently Asked Questions. Comprehensive Video Tutorials and toll-free, unlimited Technical Support should also be available.
Does the company provide a complete management system for current versions of Windows?
It’s important to choose a company that offers a complete solution for the management of your child care business now and into the future. The child care software you select should be designed run on the latest versions of Microsoft Windows and provide Minimum Specifications for your computer hardware.
What if I want to install the child care software on more than one computer?
Software licensing varies from company to company. The license fee may be per location as well as per computer (number of computers you may install on) or per seat (number of people using the software at the same time). Ask the various vendors about their licensing policy if you plan to network your computers, purchase future child care facilities or install the child care software at your home.
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