While many elements contribute to the success of out-of-school time (OST) programs, administrators play a key role. With wide-ranging responsibilities, administrators serve as the hub of their programs.
A typical day in the life of an OST program administrator might include checking children into the program, monitoring them while they are in the program and checking them out.
Beyond involvement with children in the program, this person also often serves as the site director or coordinator. In this role, the administrator might develop and manage programs, determine students’ needs and interests, manage staff, oversee operations and cultivate relationships with the community.
Though all of these tasks are important, in many ways, administrators are juggling competing priorities. Let’s not overlook interactions with parents – and the need to continually respond to changes that occur, whether due to family matters or larger events.
Handling Finances is Essential – But Time Consuming
In addition to coordinating all aspects of the program, administrators are responsible for the billing and accounts receivable (AR). This is a critical aspect of program administration, since effective billing and AR management is essential to reliable cash flow. Yet it’s easy to see how this heavy administrative process can become rushed or fall down the list of priorities with so much else for administrators to manage. How can the person responsible for so much also find the time to issue invoices, reconcile invoices and payments, and chase down late payments – especially when dealing with paper-based records? Clearly it makes good business sense to alleviate your administrator of these onerous manual tasks.
5 Proven Ways to Improve the Accounts Receivable Process
Fortunately, you can call upon a number of ways to improve your accounts receivable process. Per the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), here are some best practices for accounts receivable:
- Eliminate obstacles to receiving payments: Look for ways to streamline payments, such as by offering a variety of payment methods to suit all parent needs. With a choice of payment options, parents may find it easier to pay their invoices on time.
- Assess accounts receivable regularly: Make a plan to monitor and check your accounts receivable on a regular basis, ideally at least once per week. Regular check-ins allow you to identify programs sooner so you can address them before they cause major problems.
- Automate: Automate as much of your process as possible to make it more reliable and streamlined. Using software to minimize human involvement not only frees up time, but also, it will reduce errors.
- Establish a proactive collections process: Define a formal process for collecting on overdue payments with your guidelines that clearly spell out next steps. Once an account becomes past due, anyone referring to the guidelines should know what action to take.
- Bill electronically: If possible, bill families electronically to reduce the amount of forms and checks you process. Along with automating the process overall, this will greatly reduce errors and free up time.
Look For a Flexible Software Solution
Once you decide to modernize how your OST program handles accounts receivable, it’s ideal to choose a comprehensive solution. Instead of buying software that addresses this one aspect of your business, why not choose an integrated solution that supports online/digital registration, billing and communications?
With this in mind, look for a solution that:
- Supports electronic payment options. Once parents register, the software should let them sign up for how they prefer to be billed. Ideally the software processes payments electronically so you can see payments more quickly.
- Streamlines billing. Choose a software solution that allows your administrator to bill relevant parents with the push of a button, and schedule billing to happen automatically. This relieves the strain of creating invoices, administering them and tracking the status of each one.
- Automates recurring payments and discounts. The ideal software will also allow your administrator to handle recurring payments and discounts similarly. For example, once your administrator applies a discount, the software should continually and automatically reduce the family’s payment by the correct amount until the discount is removed.
- Supports electronic attendance. Some software supports QR codes so parents can easily check in via your program’s mobile app. This streamlines the process for parents and your administrator, and simplifies third-party/agency reporting if you are reimbursed based on attendance.
- Provides support for split families by assigning separate ledger cards to each payer. This keeps parents happy while eliminating the need to continually reconcile billings.
- Facilitates third-party subsidy providers, allowing your program administrator to figure out at a granular level what to expect for third-party reimbursements – whether they bill off attendance, billings, rate table, etc. This makes it possible to easily and accurately determine the parents’ co-pay.
- Includes a parent portal. A centralized online portal makes it easy for parents to access documents such as the program, authorization and immunization forms — and for your administrator to keep track of them. It can also house self-service statements that make it easier for parents to submit for reimbursement and access their year-end statements. Plus, parents can make changes – such as to their attendance or schedules – and your administrator will be alerted.
- Enables a seamless process, handling changes without requiring tedious additional work of your administrator.
- Eliminates the need to chase down payments by automating recurring payments and being flexible enough to adjust to how parents pay.
- Supports all forms of communication at no extra cost and without requiring manual work (such as the need to download all parent email addresses and upload them to a server). In addition to posting announcements and sending ad hoc and automated emails, look for software that also allows your administrator to easily send text messages and even emergency and other notifications. Ideally the software will create a communications hub for your administrator while alleviating the need to reach out manually. Automations could include sending registration confirmation and approval, and payment confirmations to parents.
- Makes it possible to seamlessly absorb changes, such as if a parent changes their child’s attendance schedule from five days to two. The right software will ensure all related changes (such as payment amounts) flow through the system without human intervention.
Ready to help your out-of-school time program administrator regain the time to focus on what matters most? Find out more about the flexible SchoolCare Works™ solution.