Auckland’s Next Generation early childhood centres farewell old-school document management.
The way Maree Moselen sees it, the best part about the childcare business is the kids. The administration and documentation that comes with them, not so much.
It’s hard to disagree. Turn up to Maree’s cheerfully chaotic office in one of the three Auckland centres that constitute her business, Next Generation Childcare, and the place is buzzing
with happy little humans getting on with life. Maree knows all 50 children in the centre, plus the 50 more in her other two centres. She sends their families Christmas cards every year. Ask her and she’ll point out the ones whose parents went to Next Generation back when they were preschoolers.
What you don’t see is the sea of documents that keeps the business running. Daughter Jessica, who serves as Area Manager, almost shudders when she lists the different bits of paper. “Enrolment forms. Daily sign-in sheets. Accident forms. Medicine sheets, WINZ documents, nappy and sleep charts,” she says. “Oh, and health and safety records. Plus monthly management reports, and guarantees, contracts and accounts.
“Did I mention teacher documentation? We keep that too, even after a teacher has left us.”
Maree started Next Generation in 1991. Since then, the self-confessed hoarder has bound everything into document categories, jammed the files into cardboard boxes, labelled them by year, and stored them wherever she could in one of the centres. Or in a garage, although Maree was less thrilled about that option because retrieving those boxes might involve an unexpected meeting with a spider. And if there’s anything Maree likes less than binding nappy charts, it’s spiders.
All this became a non-issue in 2015, when Maree and Jessica adopted Indeks, streamline’s digital document management solution. They hadn’t been looking for an alternative to their boxes of paper, but they were introduced to Indeks by streamline partner Sharp New Zealand at that year’s ECC conference and decided it was time to say goodbye to the boxes.
A good decision, she reckons. “In some ways, we didn’t have a choice. As Next Generation has grown, the volume of documents has grown. We didn’t have thespace to store everything. With Indeks, we’ve had a lot less paper building up. Binding all those old documents used to take hours and hours. That’s now down to a few minutes.”
Maree says the office is a lot less cluttered and that the two now “spend less time chasing our tails”.
For Jessica, the benefits are systemic. “There’s initially a learning curve; using Indeks requires a degree of discipline. That’s pretty easy. Once we planned our codes and made a routine of scanning documents, it really streamlined our systems. It professionalized us. Neither of us is particularly good at administration, but Indeks has made us good.”
Jessica takes comfort in knowing Next Generation’s documents are secure in the event of a fire of flooding. But she thinks the real test was audit time. “We’ve had an audit since we adopted Indeks,” she says. “And it was a lot less stressful.”
If anyone in the childcare business asks about Indeks, Maree’s advice is simple: “Don’t burden yourself with the paper trail. I would say, take it up before you’re just drowning in paper.”