The Nanny Business

The company has more than 220 nannies placed with families in Christchurch, Blenheim, Nelson and Wellington.

Matt Long, financial controller, CIO and one of the founders of The Nanny Company, explains, “For some families, it becomes cost-effective to have a nanny if there are more than two young children. What we found was that younger nannies couldn’t cope with families where there were multiple births, large bustling families or where there was a mother who may suffer from a mental health disorder.

“Large bustling families require nannies to contribute toward the smooth running of the household. Younger nannies objected to picking up books, folding clothes or loading the washing machine,” Long continues. “Some families are very specific about what they are after, others are really looking for a ‘trophy nanny’, but they never work out.

“We’ve had to recruit mature nannies that have more life experience and know what’s involved with running a busy family.”

Nannying generates lots of paper

Nannies are required by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to provide early childhood education, and the Education Review Office requires that standards of education and workplace safety are maintained.

Each engagement generates a large amount of documentation. Learning journals must be compiled for each child, and each contact session must be documented and signed off by parents. This documentation allows the whole process to be transparent and readily audited.

Off the shelf programs didn’t suit

Long looked at early childhood care centre programs to see whether they met the company’s requirements. “But our business is different,” he says. “We have almost as many early childhood care centres as we do children. Every year, we collect 16,000 signatures showing that our nannies have shown up for work. After a few years, I’ve got a garage full of these timesheets.”

Long and his team selected Stratos to build a custom solution to streamline the business.

“Before we engaged Stratos, each nanny that enrolled with us would generate a new paper dossier, which grew thicker and thicker as résumés, enrolment forms, telephone call notes, interview notes, police checks, timesheets, emails and other correspondence accumulated in the file. We were collecting filing cabinets,” he says ruefully.

“We knew people at Stratos and had heard about the kind of work they do. They took the time to get to know us, to understand our needs and requirements. The personality fit was there from the start.”

New software system cuts administrative costs by at least 50%

“The software project went smoothly and communication was good. The new system has reduced our administrative staff count by half and saved us over 10% of our floor space.

Long says Stratos has always been quick to provide technical support, too. “Once when something went wrong, the developer who was working on our system was travelling in the UK, but the whole thing was resolved overnight. In fact, I can’t recall a time when Stratos hasn’t responded to an issue without delay and worked it out quickly.”

“I enjoyed the fact I always knew who I was dealing with as the project progressed.”

Stratos helps The Nanny Company pass compliance audits

Stratos has remained a trusted development partner for The Nanny Company, especially as the MoE has progressively moved their processes online and The Nanny Company has had to follow suit.

An early step in this direction was the introduction of the National Child Number (NSN) system, whereby the MoE assigns a unique number to each child to identify them and track the information collected for each. This provides the MoE with the basic data they need to assess trends and develop initiatives.

The Nanny Company needed to use the new NSN system, which meant linking all relevant records to the unique NSNs. The Nanny Company’s good relationship with Stratos meant it had no need to find another partner.

Following the NSN project, the MoE started implementing its Early Learning Information (ELI) system. The Nanny Company engaged Stratos to enable it to automatically send enrolment and attendance information to ELI.

Long explains, “At the time, the Ministry was quite sensitive about information security because WINZ had received a significant amount of publicity for lax standards. We were very pleased when we sailed through their compliance audits.”

New process automation cuts costs

“Since the new system was put in, we have started automating even more systems,” says Long. “Our newsletter used to cost us $6,000 a year to print, stuff envelopes and mail out. We got Stratos to automate all that for us.”

Stratos implemented a public portal for nannies as well as an internal document management system using Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint also allows nannies to directly access schedules and rosters using their phones, tablets and home computers.

“In times past, when a staff member moved on, we would automatically replace them. As we continue to use Stratos to automate more and more systems we expect that will change.

“I’d have no hesitation in recommending Stratos. They take the time to get to know you, they’re easy to get along with, and they’re quick to respond.”

The Nanny Company