Why Consistency Matters in Management Reporting
Managing a child care program can be overwhelming. From administration, handling parents, and overseeing staff to the day-to-day struggles of running a business, having consistent management reporting systems in place can drastically improve your child care program's efficiency.
Standardize How You Visualize Data
A simple way to ensure consistency in your reporting is to have a set style guide for charts, graphs, and tables. Style guides ensure that every member of your staff uses the same colors, terms, and data. It also gives your visuals a clean, professional look that parents.
The style guide should include the layout of your summary report. When the summary report has a consistent, recognizable flow that tells the same story, it becomes easier for parents and staff to understand the information. Ideally, anyone on your team should look at a summary report and accurately convey the story to parents or management, even if the individual who captured the data isn't available.
Keep RAG Status Icons Constant
Red, Amber, Green status icons track progress and key performance indicators, or KPIs. There must be clarity on what each color symbolizes and maintain that consistency through all reports across the child care program and administrative systems.
Use Consistent Terminology
As with consistent colors and icons, being on the same page with the terms you use and their definitions can help avoid confusion during meetings. From industry-related jargon and acronyms to the style and tone used, it helps avoid miscommunication.
Maintain The Master Management Report
The master management report or briefing book contains all the reports from every department in your child care business. Each report should adhere to the standards described in your style guide. In other words, the graphs, charts, layouts, terminology, icons, colors and the data collected should be consistent across all the reports in the briefing book.
With that many reports, keeping the data organized and easy to access can save you time trying to retrieve specific information or data point. To manage the briefing book, create standardized sections, regularly refresh the table of contents, insert page numbers and back up the records periodically.
Set A Reporting Calendar
Finally, having clear deadlines for daily reports will significantly help the management of your child care program. Not only will your staff be able to manage their time more effectively, but it will also set expectations so that all management, staff and teachers all know when information is due.
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Five Steps To Ensure Consistency In The Child Care Program Management
You can develop consistency in how you manage your child care program through a five-step process.
- Establish clear terms of governance – Good governance provides a child care program with the policies, procedures, and decision-making process to ensure accurate, consistent and responsive reporting to staff and parents.
- Develop clear program management frameworks – Simple, adaptable program management processes in which tasks, procedures, techniques and tools are used to complete child care reports. For instance, communication processes can establish a more effective culture of communication for your child care business.
- Provide easy-to-use tools and templates – Standardized tools and templates create clear guidelines for how your company performs repeated tasks. Daily reports, milestone reports, and meeting templates are a good place to start integrating consistency into your program. Opting for an all-inclusive software, like Alliance Core, is another way of ensuring the same tools and forms are used across the board.
- Train and mentor your staff – Training ensures that everyone understands the policies, frameworks and reporting tools they are expected to use. It's also an opportune time to address any inconsistencies that regularly occur and how they should be addressed in the future.
- Track, measure and understand your reports – What gets measured gets controlled. Staying on top of the different types of information and forms required for your business to run smoothly will go a long way in improving efficiency. Knowing when each form is expected and who is meant to complete, it can ensure that you're able to track when records are missing and address any issues that may arise.
The Benefits Of Switching To Digital Daily Reports
Improve Communication with Parents
Having open lines of communication with parents and caregivers is essential to any child care program's success. Not only can you ensure that parents have seen and read a report, but they can also be stored and backed up in case they are needed at a future date.
Child care management systems, such as Alliance CORE, have built-in record keeping and attendance tracking tools to compile daily and annual reports easier. With printed reports, parents can see their child's current progress; however, digital reporting allows them to compare records over time, giving them a broader view of their child's development.
There's also the added benefit of visual data aids. Through graphs and charts, digital forms can make it easier when meeting with parents and staff to discuss their child.
Lower Cost And Saves Time
Another benefit of switching to digital daily reporting is the cost-savings. Time is money, and printing, updating and completing regular reports for each child, the less time they have for other tasks essential to your business and team's growth and development. An automated reporting system cuts down on your staff's admin time. Moreover, a digital system lowers the overall cost of paper, printing, and file storage.
Let Your Staff Work Smarter
Digital reports are simpler to update, too. Instead of reprinting forms whenever changes are required, a simple update on the system will ensure that everyone on your team uses the latest version of a particular report.
Parents will be happier too. Digital technologies make it possible to enter a child's progress or check off specific tasks as they happen. Real-time reporting also means parents can check in on their child while they're at home or work.
Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.
Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff.
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Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.
Header image courtesy of Jumpstory.