Blossom and iConnect are two nursery management softwares, both with different focuses. Blossom flourishes in having a comprehensive system whilst also ensuring that the system is very easy to use, however iConnect focuses more on having very detailed reports.
Blossom’s system contains everything nursery staff need in one place – it is an all-in-one nursery system, with different modules or ‘Apps’ that can be turned on or off, depending on your requirements.
iConnect is separated into three different platforms for nursery finance, parent communication and EYFS learning/child development. These platforms are not fully integrated together, with the ‘Connect Childcare’ finance application being completely separate from the iConnect learning and communication, separate to the Parent Zone parent app.. Customers often report this being disjointed & ‘clunky’.
Let’s get down to the specifics. Here’s what you can expect from this software Comparison:
Ease of Use
Blossom prides itself on its user-friendly interface and innovative BlossomBoard. With easy navigation throughout the main platform and new parent app, the focus is on ensuring people of all backgrounds are able to use the system with ease. The system is completely joined up, which means that you do not need to log in and out of different parts of the system. Furthermore, Blossom can be used across any device, be it laptop, tablet or even mobile phone. iConnect can be difficult to get started with, it can only be used with Internet Explorer.
iConnect has a large amount of reporting features available, but they can be hard to get through as the interface doesn’t have modern accessibility features. The Parent side has been newly created and is very basic in comparison. Customers switching to Blossom often report that they know they didn’t use iConnect to its full capacity due to it being over-complicated.
Blossom’s platform contains everything nursery staff need in one place. User permissions are used to give access to managerial and finance features. Blossom uses cloud data storage, meaning the information is always available, consistent and up to date.
iConnect is made up of three different platforms for finance, parent communication and child development. However, these three separate platforms don’t all link together as smoothly as Blossom’s system does. The ‘Connect Childcare’ finance application being completely separate from the learning and communication.
Blossom released a brand new Parent App in February 2020 with additional features and a refreshed design. As well as being able to share daily diary information, daily sheets, observations and reports, the Blossom Parent App also features a collection of EYFS activities for parents. Curated by our own team of early years experts, these activities allow parents to be more involved in the continuation of their child’s development from home.
The News feature allows professional two way communication between parents and nurseries, with the ability to share updates to rooms, staff and all contacts, it can be used for any form of useful communication. The Blossom App also benefits from it’s fresh and modern design, guiding parents around the features with ease, and the ability to easily switch between different children they may have. iConnect has also gone through a cosmetic update of ParentZone, their own App. Both apps have daily diaries, billing features and the ability to send nurseries an observation from home. Blossom focuses so significantly on it’s Parent App because this is given you parents, who are your customers.
Finance: Invoices, Funding and More...
Blossom offers easily customizable invoicing features with the ability to build an entirely bespoke fee structure, making it easy to switch onto the platform from older providers. Blossom also offers flexible funding features, which like the rest of the platform is easy to set up and use.
The ‘Connect Childcare’ application is where the finance system is based. iConnect has the capability to provide a wide range of different reports which can be useful, particularly at a higher level. However, this comes at a cost as some elements such as funding can be complex to adjust, with many iConnect customers reporting that they find the finance features difficult to navigate and as a result do not know how to use the platform fully. In-app payments must also be processed through a computer and flexible funding can sometimes be difficult for people to complete effectively.
Planning & Occupancy
iConnect has a very strong reporting capability, it is able to provide a range of different reports which can be particularly helpful to managers. It can at times be complex to set up and adjust, such as their funding features.
Blossom has slightly fewer reporting features, mainly focusing on occupancy and operational reports – which are often the most critical elements of what a nursery needs to know. The Blossom Web App has a detailed accidents and incidents feature, with practitioners given the choice to include signatures digitally or on paper. The process is simple and guides the user through the process. Blossom has an easily adjustable funding table which shows exactly where the funding is allocated. Blossom’s ease of use and modern look and feel of reports is a leap above iConnect.
Blossom has in depth occupancy which always shows up to date figures regarding holidays, extra sessions and absences. It can be used to organise daily and weekly numbers or to provide insights into upcoming spaces.
EYFS & Montessori Tracking: Online Learning Journal Software
Both Blossom and iConnect support EYFS observations as well as cohort tracking features. Through iConnnect, you’re able to write observations for one or multiple children. While iConnect has some additional frameworks such as SEND and ECAT, Blossom has a more advanced approvals process for managers to review and approve observations with ease. This coupled with an ‘Observation Feedback’ tool means that ‘on the job’ CPD can be easily provided. Ofsted have mentioned this to be a strong positive of the Blossom system. The Blossom platform also has a smoother user experience, with a modern and clean interface that is constantly updated, whereas iConnect has stayed relatively the same since its release a number of years ago.
iConnect and Blossom have a Montessori framework as part of their online learning journey features. However Blossom has always had a significant focus on Montessori, with members of the company’s Board coming directly from a Montessori background.
The Cohort Tracking feature on Blossom is clear and concise, with a design which clearly flags any abnormalities in a child’s development. This makes early intervention easier to achieve, allowing children to build on their learning without obstacles. Any report can be generated using Blossom’s Cohort Tracking, which includes the ability to create Year Progress Checks, Comparison Reports, Transition Reports, Formative and Summative Reporting and more. Comparison reports can also be generated at the touch of a button.
Features for Groups
iConnect Childcare offers a wide range of features and reports for early years settings. Their wide variety of features can be flexible to fit most different setups and they offer good high-level reporting for larger groups. In part because of this complexity, it’s not always easy to use for everyone and the huge selection of reports and features can be confusing.
Blossom has features built specially for nursery groups, such as a Group Dashboard and Group Reporting features. The forecasting and revenue reports provide an overview of each nursery within the group. These allow owners to make decisions about their business efficiently and effectively. With Blossom, a new Setting can be added in minutes, making growth of your business fast and simple. In the organisation view you can create group settings, ensuring the same sessions, term dates & billing settings in each nursery.
Support & Pricing
Blossom offers free onboarding and ongoing unlimited support via phone, email and chat, as well as a free Knowledge Base with how-to guides..
The Blossom support team all have extensive backgrounds in the Early Years Sector meaning they can understand your issue very quickly & empathize with your situation. Customers that have switched to Blossom from iConnect have reported the support team not always understanding them.
Blossom is free to set up and packages start from £69 and go up to £149. There are no other hidden charges. There is also never a limit to the amount of children you can add, so that you can grow without increasing your cost base!
Connect Childcare has a monthly cost of £118, as well as an additional set up fee of £800-£1500. iConnect has additional costs for support, training courses and setup, starting at £160+VAT. They offer free training videos, resources and chat support.
Information accurate at time of publication: 18 June 2020
We have done our best to create an accurate and unbiased comparison between Blossom and iConnect, however the products may have changed since the publication of this article. If you have any comments or suggestions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.