8 JUNE 2017:
FDC Service provides tips on moving Educators to Harmony Web.
In the South Coast Region of New South Wales is Eurobodalla Family Day Care Scheme, which operates Family Day Care, After School and Vacation Care Services. The organisation has been operating for over 25 years, with 16 FDC Educators and another four soon to come on board. In March this year they were one of the first FDC Services to bring their Educators across to Harmony Web.
We asked Administration Officer, Pennie Clarke, to tell us about their Service, the approach they took and what tips she would offer other Services about to bring their Educators online. (Pictured above are Eurobodalla Family Day Care staff Lisa Heinze, Natalie Maxted, Pennie Clarke and Louise Hatton.)
“We’ve always used Harmony,” said Pennie. “When we knew Harmony was going web-based, we looked at some other programs. We didn’t see a whole lot of difference in the other offerings and as all of our data and history was with Harmony it just seemed more viable to go to Harmony Web. We are looking forward to the Vacation Care & OOSH version of Harmony Web becoming available so things can be more automated across the Service.
How long has your organisation been using Harmony Web?
“We moved our Service over to Harmony Web at the end of January 2017. We do fortnightly processing and payments and did two of these before we started to bring our Educators on board. Many of them have used Harmony Light for some time.”
“The approach we took was to bring them on progressively. We brought our most complicated Educator (who can operate up to seven days a week) on board first and just worked with her for the second month. She was also very keen to move across as, given the facets of her Service, she had the most to gain by going online.”
“The next month we brought another three Educators on together, and then progressively others. By the end of June we hope to have all across who are planning to come across.”
“Three or four of our Educators are reluctant to come across. These are our Educators who use paper-based systems. We are not forcing them. However, because there is more work and time involved with processing paper-based timesheets and the like, from the 3rd July we are introducing extra charges for those who don’t use Harmony Web.”
Pennie said their Service was encouraged by the fact that some of the Educators who had already moved across were older and likely to be willing to help most of their remaining Educators move across, in part due to their enthusiasm for the way that Harmony was making their lives easier.
“For us as a Service we have made it mandatory that any new Educators must use Harmony Web,” she said. “We are just trying to get our Educators automated as much as we can. Just the fact that we have electronic time sheets is awesome. It’s such a great move forward. It’s so easy for parents to sign-in and out with digital signatures and see things.”
How did the transition go for you?
“We did have some teething issues, with the PINs for the digital signatures, the links weren’t allowing our parents to set their own PINs. That has now been ironed out. Redbourne has done more work on patches to the software and with resolving an issue with Microsoft. Additionally, because the software relies on the Internet for those with poorer internet connections sometimes they have to log-in again (like an eftpos machine not working the first time).”
“We also had some challenges with our Educators being unable to access the support portal, children’s photos and invoicing, which have all been ironed out. I think we were a bit of a test site, Redbourne and us learned a lot together in the early weeks. They have free telephone and email support which is great, though at times it was busy. There was some wait with both. It is better now though,” she said.
What advice would you give to other Services?
“For other services Harmony Light users will most likely want to move across as they already use a computer system. They will be keen.”
“Pick your most complicated one first and get them up and running.”
“A few weeks before moving them you can provide them with a demo version. It’s accessible via the Harmony site. It’s not their data in there but they get an idea of the interface and where everything is,” she added.
“Once you turn them on and they are live they are learning as they go along. It’s a little sink or swim. However, by this stage you can provide a lot of first level support in your office. I stayed on the phone to them. I talked them though.”
Pennie said their Educators could talk to our other Educators for tips they might need. There were also inbuilt tips and video demos inside the program.
What have been the pluses to moving to Harmony Web?
“The pluses are it’s instantaneous. I love the interface, it’s easy to read, navigate and gives you the info you need.”
“We process fortnightly. Our Educators can just go into the system each day and accept the pre-populated booking for each child or change it as required. Then at the end of the processing period, they can electronically sign it and send it off. It’s all done.”
In their Service, Pennie said, the Educators using Harmony Light were used to creating electronic invoices and with Harmony Web Educators could now send out invoices via email.
“This is great from the parent’s point of view and for Educators. They don’t have to stop and write out a receipt for parents. The fact that Harmony Web is automated and pulls in any changes to CCB% immediately is a huge benefit.”
“PIN numbers are a real bonus.”
“The web based system is very transparent – we can see more clearly the actual times the children are signed in and out and by which authorised person. The current eligible child care benefit is always available and the program is automatically updated in the background.”
One of the big changes for Eurobodalla FDC is that their office no longer prints hard copies of timesheets. “If we get spot checked, we can bring it up on system. It’s a great benefit.”
“Being a web-based program, is great for our IT department as well – they don’t have to have anything more to do with the system as the support is all provided by Harmony. It’s saving them time and money.”
Pennie said for their Educators, the cost of Harmony Web for the Standard version with PIN was $3.30 a week, which represented good value for the time savings. Some Educators who use the Cashbook side in Harmony Light were likely to opt for that module when it becomes available in Harmony Web.
“There are still improvements we would like to see made to the system that accommodate the realities of FDC Service, such as the ability to add a comment for the Educator on the actual time sheet and the multi-count for families with more than one child in care being available for invoicing in advance. The ability for an Educator to send an email to a family and not just an invoice through Harmony would be really helpful.”
“However the big plus with Harmony Web is its automation that now enables parents to spend more time with Educators talking about their child rather than looking for bits of paper.”
~ ENDS ~Share