Case Study: Harp Nurseries
Harp Nurseries has 11 settings in locations including Merseyside, Yorkshire, and Essex. The group prides itself on a unique approach, reflecting the individual identities of the families using its services.
A safe and secure, homely environment is promised for children to grow, develop, and flourish. Emotional resilience through key worker bonds and the opportunity to be curious — exploring feelings and interests — are emphasised.
Harp’s aim is to facilitate a ‘magical journey’ focused on creativity, imagination, learning, self-esteem building, and school readiness.
Key personnel estimate that their nurseries’ previous online systems provision was five times more expensive than Connect’s, meaning that the switch saved a significant amount of money.
Staff had struggled with a service they said was in some respects unresponsive, with changes and amendments not visible in real time. Accounting figures took a full 24 hours to update and current totals could not be checked at a glance.
While the interface had its plus points — including the parent-facing functionality — senior staff agreed the previous system’s ‘business end’ lacked the necessary substance, and a move to Connect was set in motion.
Harp Nurseries is now using Connect Childcare, iConnect, and ParentZone. Implementation was handled at a pace — over 12 weeks, with Christmas in the middle! — but went smoothly. The group puts the successful transition and ongoing usage to the way they took ownership of the software, and this is their core recommendation to other nursery businesses thinking about taking the leap.
Originally, four senior staff members from the head office and the nursery side of operations acted as champions, making sure they knew how to use the functionalities thoroughly and were able to help colleagues when they needed assistance. Employees undertook training in groups and the champions often attended each session more than once, to make sure they understood as much as possible. Connect staff worked hard to meet Harp’s timescales.
As a result of this investment, the team has been able to operate the systems with ease, reporting how straightforward it is to get the information required and set up complex admin such as rolling booking patterns. They report saving time because they are not going ‘back and forth’ between spreadsheets.
Now colleagues are familiar with the software, one key staff member retains the day-to-day role of champion, taking care to encourage individual settings to adhere to group ways of doing things rather than developing their own procedures. This has resulted in uniformity that makes admin easier and more straightforward for all concerned.
Head office personnel handle as many tasks as possible, leaving childcare managers to play to their strengths and passions among the children in their care.