For nursery managers, having some downtime is a luxury. Constantly on your feet, going between the office and the nursery all whilst trying to keep staff happy. Even the thought of setting up a new online system can bring on additional stress. Maybe the benefits won’t outweigh the risks, what if there is an extortionate set up fee?
For managers, particularly those who have been in the sector for a long time, the thought of change is daunting, especially when there are so many options to choose from. With the help of Tracey, manager and owner of St. Peters Nursery (Notting Hill, London), you should be able to make your first steps in the right direction.
Nursery management software can be incorporated into all aspects of nursery life. The main areas which nursery software typically covers are: Parental Communication and Daily Childcare Diaries, Observations in the EYFS and Montessori, Invoicing and Finance Management as well as Occupancy and Staff Planning. With Blossom, you can get all of these features in an all-in-one system.
You need to choose a nursery software company which understands your needs and fits what you are looking for. You may think the most important aspect to look out for is software features. Going with the first result which sounds good, and later on down the line realising they are a technology company first and a nursery company second can be frustrating.
With software, organization is done for you and can save time and money in comparison to using paper. Trying to keep the endless paper documents organised can be a big task for a nursery manager. As a manager, you’re constantly putting out fires, your time is too valuable to be spending hours upon hours going through occupancy, invoices and session bookings. With an online system, the organization is done for you. Using a software system can cut the time and effort from doing administration duties, while storing lots of vital information in one easily accessible place.
A user-friendly product can make all the difference, especially with members of staff who have spent a long time in the sector, and have grown comfortable with using paper. Some software systems are known to be easier to pick up than others.
“What was important to me and my team was that the platform would be quick and easy to set up and use, without the need for specific training – and it is! Everything is presented clearly in a pleasing format that is simplicity itself.”
Being able to just pick up and use software is not an easy task to accomplish, however, Blossom has a unique dashboard which helps to guide the user to wherever they need to go. Usability for everyone in the nursery is of great importance, and as a manager having a happy team makes all the difference.
Find a company who understands what it’s like to run a nursery, or better, owns nurseries themselves. Tracey, manager of St. Peters Nursery wanted to find a nursery focused nursery management software when she spoke to Sara from Blossom Educational. “Sara was the founder of Blossom, and she had been an early years teacher, so instinctively she knew exactly what nurseries were looking for.” A company with nursery experience can be crucial when it comes to understanding the needs of the sector as well as understanding and acknowledging it’s cautious approach to technology. Blossom Educational owns its own nursery and understands the experiences nursery staff face first hand.
Having a good nursery software rolled out in your setting is a positive, particularly to staff. Not only does it allow them to spend more hands on time with the children instead of constantly doing paperwork, it keeps their skills as a practitioner fresh in their mind. A nursery software like Blossom is an additional tool which will allow your staff to unlock the best of their ability. Software is proven to retain staff as it improves the aspect of the job which many find difficult.
There are a number of ways to check if a software company is safe and will protect your data. Make sure to look out for: GDPR compliance, encryption of data and clear and understandable security policies. Blossom has a Child Protection Policy and a Security Policy which help nurseries understand exactly how their data is handled and can be found on the Blossom website..
It’s well known that some software companies will charge you thousands of pounds just to setup their software, and then you still have to input all of your information! With Blossom, not only is the set up free, but the friendly team guides you through the setup process to ensure you are up and running immediately, meaning there is no time or money wasted over your transition period!
Tracey was keen to switch to an online system after using one at her previous nursery, she noted, “I was keen to introduce this in my new workplace, as the current paper-based profiles were costly to produce in terms of both staff time, and paper and ink.”
Most nurseries will see a substantial financial benefit from using an online system, from having better occupancy, attracting parents with great communication benefits or simply saving hours of time on paperwork. One of Blossom’s customers saved £5000 for their nursery over a year of using the software.
Cloud software has a number of advantages. All work is backed up and can be accessed from any device without need for a large application download. The information kept on the servers is safe and secure, whereas older running systems may be behind on security updates. The user interface is modern and fresh and actions can be taken without even thinking about which button to press. A modern cloud based software will always be up to date when you use it, without the need for manual updates. With Blossom, there are no limits to the number of children you are able to add, something common on traditional systems, allowing nurseries to grow without paying a premium price.
A good nursery software system will be quick and easy to set up. With Blossom, you are given a Launch Guide, help from the service excellence team and a getting started page which takes you through the information which needs to be inputted in order to get started. So long as you have all of the correct information to hand, you can get it done in one sitting!
Some software providers provide groups of nurseries with a group dashboard where you are able to see an overview of all nurseries in one place, including reporting whereas some software companies can only provide standalone packages with no way to see overall figures. Blossom has supported many different nursery groups such as Cherubs Day Nurseries and Banana Moon Franchise. See what they had to say about their Blossom experiences in these case studies.
Even after your initial setup with a software company, contact is key, which is why the majority of software companies offer free support services. If you or one of your staff members were to run into an issue, you should be confident that their team can get it solved and get your business back running smoothly. For Tracey, this was something she found Blossom perfect for. She recalled, “if we do hit a bump in the road, it is reassuring to know that we can pick up the phone and the team will deal with any issues there and then, or within a reasonable timeframe.” As a smaller company, Blossom was always looking out for ways to improve and listened to Tracey’s feedback, even taking some of her points into development. All of the team members Tracey spoke to had experience in early years, as practitioners or managers, so they understood all the problems inside out.
One thing parents love is to see their children grow, and nursery software makes bridging the gap between nursery and parent easier than ever before. Having the ability to receive live updates to their phone gives parents peace of mind. However, when looking for nursery software consider what the parent experience is like too. If the app is clunky, crashes and hard to use, parents simply won't use it. In early 2020, Blossom released a brand new Parent App with a completely new, modern design unlike any other nursery software which is easy to use from the second it is opened.
If used correctly, having a parent app will bring nurseries and parents closer together. Choosing a software with a good Parent App is very important, as their experience with the software is just as important as yours. Most nursery software companies have a parent app which has basic communication features. With Blossom, parents are encouraged to not only witness their child’s development but actively join in with Home Activities and Home Observations.
Having a management software in place means you can keep all information stored in one place, making it easier for parents to stay in the loop with payments and give nurseries peace of mind knowing that they’ll receive payments on time. For Tracey, Blossom ticked the boxes for every member of staff’s individual responsibilities as well as her own administrative duties, “it’s a platform that not only allows practitioners to take a series of photographs and make on the spot observations on an iPad, but also cuts my administration duties (as Head) down to a minimum, while storing lots of vital information in one easily accessible place.”
You may already have a system in place which covers one area of your nursery, however with an all-in-one nursery software, all the information you need is available instantly. Taking out the need to constantly input information into multiple systems. Blossom also has finance features which are clear and easy to understand.
If you remember these points, you will end up signing up for a great software package. And most importantly, make your nursery and the children in it, the best they can be. Tracey signed up with Blossom in 2017, and is still happily using them today! She wishes for software in the industry to continue to grow and develop into a Nursery Necessity. “Making managers’ and practitioners’ administration (almost) enjoyable!”
A special thank you to St. Peters Nursery for helping us create this article.