Do you really have an “all-in-one” childcare solution?
Learn how to determine if your solution is single-platform or multi-platform, and why this is important.
As a childcare owner, it is important to understand where your parent and child data sits, and how secure your software is. Do you understand the difference between multi-platform providers that share data with external vendors and those that actually offer a single-vendor solution?
Childcare support software can help you manage administrative tasks, interact with parents and increase occupancy, all at an advanced level of efficiency. More centres are willing to adopt software technology, even if that means extra work and training for the first few weeks. Who doesn’t want to spend more time educating children and bonding with families than manually logging attendance or making CCS submissions every single week?
A number of software providers are good at helping childcare managers achieve this goal, but many are now advertising their products as “all-in-one”, claiming to fulfil all of a centre’s needs in one place. How does this impact your choice of childcare software? Why is it important to have all services in a single location, and how to find out if a provider is actually doing it?
Well, there’s more to childcare management than simply having software manage all your interactions in one place. What’s important is to look behind the scenes and know how the software functions.
Get to know different versions of “all-in-one” software providers.
Most providers, proudly using the “all-in-one” terminology, use what is known as a “multi-platform” solution that integrates more than one software program using APIs. An API is a connection between different software or apps that allows them to communicate and transfer data. To complete the childcare experience and to offer all services in one place (CCS management, administration, education, parent engagement), these software providers need to partner with third-party solutions to fill gaps in their own service.
The first challenge is often in data security. With multi-platform systems sharing data across third-party solutions, you need to ensure that all parties with access to the data are compliant and storing the data correctly. Multiple connections between databases (via APIs) also means additional potential breach points for hackers. Some “all-in-one” apps require parents, educators or administrators to log in to different systems, meaning that users require multiple passwords, posing yet another potential security issue.
The next difficulty is often from a user perspective. Even if the software has managed to connect all the different platforms with a single-login (known as a Single Sign-On or SSO interface), the actual user experience is typically not ideal as the different platforms function differently. This includes how you navigate around menus, the formats of reports, and the general look and feel of the interface. Differences mean wasted time and frustration.
Multi-platform solutions will also likely result in support challenges. Typically multi-platform “all-in-one” solutions will have different channels for support, each for a separate platform, and you end up sending parents in different directions when it’s time to troubleshoot. Training is required in all these programs, and updates are happening at different times. Eventually, more time is spent by managers and educators dealing with the anxiety associated with change.
Single-platform “all-in-one” software solutions have major benefits.
A true “all-in-one” solution that is built on one platform, using one data centre, rids you of the extra bit of frustration caused by multi-channel management and encourages your teams to automate childcare management fully. Such a provider gives you the peace of mind you need when caring for your children and the confidence that your software will not let you down when interacting with parents.
Instead of integrating separate platforms for CCS management, parent engagement and marketing, and then running it with your education system, a single-platform solution brings it all together for you. It houses a unified set of software designed to work alongside since the very beginning and offers a single login for both staff and parents. It safely stores all of your sensitive data in one location, positioning your centre as one that cares more about safeguarding child information.
Customer support and engineering are in one place, and training is often an in-built function of the software. Easy and quick integrations make it much easier for your teams to handle the new system and make it work for families. Fewer contracts, negotiations and partnerships are easier on your pocket, with a single platform taking less time to administer than others.
Xplor is a single-platform early learning solution that does not use APIs to integrate different platforms into one. It has one native app (or software program) developed specifically for all childcare management functions to work harmoniously under one roof. Native apps have proven to be high performing programs and deliver the best user experience across the board. In the early learning sector, this means that each function and visual is designed to match your centre’s needs, giving all families and educators a seamless experience.
For a more detailed review of single vs multi-platform, read this full guide here.
Understand the difference.
Let us help you make a well-informed decision. In our latest guide, learn about the variety of software available for your centre and how each type will have a different impact on your centre’s performance.
Parent experience is a top priority when choosing software.
When working with a multi-platform solution, even if your teams can handle the change well, you will need to think about the families you serve. Parent experience has a huge role in centre occupancy and child retention, from the first time they reach out to the time they enrol. The software you implement will impact how parents feel about your service and how long they keep their children enrolled.
A few questions you should ask a multi-platform software provider:
- Does your product truly maximise parent experience, especially since there are multiple support channels and apps to switch between?
- What if there is an end to one of the multi-platform partnerships? Does that leave us with an incomplete package to offer families?
- How secure is child/centre data when stored across multiple databases? What happens in the case of a breach or when a partnership ends?
- Are there offshore development teams working on the platforms? If yes, how much access do they have to our data?
Some providers have only specialised in one childcare service and have no experience in delivering support for all the sector’s engagement, pedagogical and development needs. Integrating with other software providers signals that they are still learning their way into the full-service package and might still need to update as they go. All of this can impact parent experience if you are not fully aware of the extent of your software provider’s “all-in-one” status.
Making the right choice
While it is ultimately more rewarding to automate your tasks using software technology, it does take a few weeks before your teams are fully aware of the change. If implemented well, the benefits of efficient software solutions begin to reflect in centre performance in the form of improved child development, better parent interactions, and eventually higher occupancy. With multi-platform management, this becomes less of a possibility in the long run.
Start analysing your choice of software by asking how the programs function and which part of their performance impacts your childcare in the long run. Don’t just buy “all-in-one” claims, but find out whether the platform is functioning independently and is truly capable of delivering the best experience to your families and staff.
Customers at Xplor have enjoyed a great deal of uniformity across service selection and continue to use it to make children and families feel happier and more engaged. If you would like to know how Xplor can help your centre, or you simply need more information on childcare management software, reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to help.