the Right Child Care
Understanding Your Business - Don't confuse
being a computer "expert" with understanding the unique needs
of childcare centers. Although shrink-wrapped products, such
as Microsoft Access, do provide some of the functionality you
need, they will require much more customization and ultimately
will be more limited. Vendors who specialize in working with
childcare centers will have a much better understanding of your
needs and be able to leverage their experience in working with
centers like yours.
Willingness to Do it Your Way - Good childcare
software and good childcare
software vendors consider your input essential to helping
you get the most from your software. Don't be intimidated
into something that doesn't work the way you want it to work.
See the product demonstrated. Make sure that the vendor's
claims are backed up by actual performance. Many companies
offer demonstration disks that are not the working software;
without viewing the actual software, you cannot evaluate
ease-of-use, flexibility, and performance.
Commitment to Product Enhancement - Technology
continues to change and
improve rapidly, and your childcare software needs to keep up. A software company should offer
a regular program of periodic improvements. You should know
the frequency with which these updates are released, what types
of improvements were incorporated into the latest version, and
where the ideas for the enhancements originate.
Ability to Provide Services -
Just as important as
the quality of the product is the vendor's ability to provide
training, periodic newsletters, website resources, and, of
course, phone & e-mail support. Ask questions about
hours of availability and number of staff involved in providing
support. You should expect to pay for quality support, and
many vendors include free product updates and enhancements
with their support plans, which help you avoid software obsolescence.
If you are on a limited budget, look for companies that provide
training that does not require expensive travel by using technology
such as web-based seminars.
Financial Stability - Since the company you
choose is at least as important as the product, you must be
confident that the vendor will be there when you need them.
Companies come and go in the software business. Look for a vendor
that is well established and can demonstrate financial stability
and a commitment to serving the childcare industry. It is not
unreasonable to ask for some form of financial statement to
A good vendor will assist you in getting the most from your
software investment. Use the above suggestions as a starting
point in evaluating a potential provider, or even your current