Would any other EYFS company keep a customers data?

So, in my search for an alternative to Baby’s Days, I questioned as anyone might, whether it was wise to place my data with another EYFS software provider.  Since the blog started many readers and Baby’s Days customers have asked me the same question, “could this happen again with a different company?  Isn’t it a case of better the devil you know?”

It started to dawn on me that what Baby’s Days / Sys IQ Ltd has done to 3.5 years worth of my data may reflect badly on other EYFS provider, so I thought I would post a blog post to clarify that I truly believe this would never have happened with a different online EYFS provider.

When you read reviews of Baby’s Days the one consistent theme is that customer service is terrible; the man behind the customer service is Mark Kahl as far as I am aware.  He is the company director of Sys IQ Ltd.  He is also the common denominator in almost every single negative experience a customer of Baby’s Days has had.  In the interest of fairness, I’m sure lots of customers also find him very helpful.  The point in that he does not work with any other company and so his customer service techniques are isolated to the Baby’s Days brand alone.

I contacted a few different companies and asked them:

…I have a lot of people asking me if they were to leave Baby’s Days for another online software company, how could they be sure the new company wouldn’t withhold their data in the same way Baby’s Days has withheld mine.  How can customers be sure their data would be returned?

Most of the companies replied in an extremely shocked tone, they couldn’t believe that Baby’s Days didn’t allow me time to download my data before they terminated the agreement.  They were even more shocked when I told them that any attempts to retrieve the data after termination had also been fruitless and that the ICO had found Baby’s Days to be in Breach of The Data Protection Act.

It’s feel it is fair to conclude that that way Baby’s Days has handled my data isn’t the industries standard approach; as such readers of the blog shouldn’t think if they switch providers the same thing might happen with the new provider.  It seems to be a customer service issue isolated to Baby’s Days alone.

For those that would like to read more info, here is what each company said about their own policies regarding returning data to their customers after terminating an account:

Minding Matter (Previously Mega Minder):  “Your data will ALWAYS be accessible to YOU and the PARENTS of your setting. We will NEVER lock you or the parents of your setting out of your account

Easy Solution 4 Nursery Education: “All data is owned by the provider or [by] the family in the case of our ‘linked up’ (to the provider’s EASYpro) and the stand alone version EASYparent. 

We view our role as the guardians fo their data (as per our terms and conditions – 9.1 The Licensee shall own all rights, title and interest in and to all the Licensee Data and shall have sole responsibility for the legality, reliability, integrity, accuracy and quality of the Licensee Data).   Our software is applicable for children from birth until their eighth birthday, when the data is deleted. 

However, we give the setting, or the family in the case of EASYparent and EASY@home, ample opportunity to download all the information in a report form, before the data is removed.  We also offer to return to them, the photographs that have been uploaded in JPEG format, although there is a small charge for this service.  These conditions also apply to any setting that may cease to subscribe to EASYpro.

Owl Track:  “I have just had my first client leave recently due to financial reasons. As I mentioned before I cant send them data as such but they can access it via their account on [the] site. I have told this client that I will not delete the account for two months in order to give her time to download, save or print any information that her or her parents requires. I will also check with her before finally deleting it. This is good customer service which is vital for business these days.”

Orbit:  “We suppose we are slightly different in that Orbit is free, so there is no subscription. We also allow the download of children’s learning journeys at any time (as a pdf document) so you always have access to the data…. In the unlikely event that we were to stop providing the service, we would give our users the maximum amount of warning possible and allow them to download and backup data.”

2simple:  “You may access your information (in return for a small fee) and request details of the entities with whom we have shared your information by contacting us at info@2simple.com. In most cases we will comply promptly with your request and let you know when we have done so.

However, sometimes you will not be entitled to access your information. For example, where the public interest or your own interests override your rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. We may withhold information where we are legally allowed to do so.”

Target Tracker:  “I can advise that we would never withhold a subscribers’ data.  In fact we make it very easy to export the data at any point as a file or by exporting whichever reports are useful.

If a subscriber chooses to leave they are able to export their data up to the end of the subscription.  After that point a small admin charge may be applicable as we would need to re-enable the subscription in order to export it.

We like to put our subscribers at the heart of what we do and it would not be in anyone’s interest to make things difficult for any customer.”

EYFS Tracker:  We have only once been asked by a setting for access to their data after they had let their licence lapse. We re-enabled their account on the same day they requested it to allow them to download their data (as they had an Ofsted inspection the following day), and we did not charge a fee for this.

Connect Childcare:  Our viewpoint is very simple – we own the software but you own the data. At any stage you can download/back this up yourself if you wish.  We will help you do this as it’s yours.

I also contacted Jeans Database, although the package does not offer an online facility I felt it fair to include the company with the others.  Jean replied; “The CM Software database is not an on-line product – it resides 100% on whatever device the customer chooses to store it on.  Which means that they also have 100% access and ownership to their data at all times. “

Pop back tomorrow for a post about how many childminders believe simply sing Baby’s Days will result in them achieving an Ofsted Outstanding grade.

Baby’s Days false claims

Quick blog post tonight as I’m a busy bee and the blog and facebook are both super busy.

Tonight blogs post is going to be exmaining some claims made by Baby’s Days.  To keep it simple, I’m going to quote what Baby’s Days have said and then underneath I’m going to tell you what’s actually true.

Only Baby’s Days has complete Parental Access

Umm, this isn’t true.  MegaMinder, Tapestry , Owl Track, Orbit, EY Log and many others all alow parents to add information to the system, message the childminder and comment on photos.  Some of them do even more than Baby’s Days does!  For example, MegaMinder (which is free) lets parents put on medicine info and injury forms.  It seems to me MegaMinder had many of the features Baby’s Days has before Baby’s Days!

No special or additional software is require

Again, this isn’t true.  If you only have IE as a browser you will have to download Firefox.  Sometimes some things don’t work in Firefox so then you have to download Chrome too.  You also need an up to date Flash and Java.  You also need a PDF reader to view most information on your own device.  If you use an iphone or ipad you need to make sure it has enough RAM.

Parent’s access is controlled by you

This isn’t true.  Parents can change their own passwords and then that means the administrators can’t log in as the parents as they don’t know the password.  You’re supposed to ask your parents not to change their passwords themselves, but to ask you to do it.

We release amazing new features onto the system every month

This isn’t true either.  They do have new features most months but not all customers are entitled to receive them, it comes down to the directors whim who does and doesn’t get the updates.  So the truth is some customers get new features most months.  But also remember they never commit to time scales of new features, like their new video upload and the extremely elusive app.

We back up your data every day in two different geographical locations so you don’t have to.

This isn’t true, you should back up all your data yourself to your own computer.  You must also register with the ICO.

Baby’s Days is the only system available that will allow you to upload video

This isn’t true, Learning Journey does this too, so does Evernote, EY Log and Tapestry also have this feature as do many others.  Also Baby’s Days doesn’t upload the video, YouTube does, so you can easily upload any video to YouTube, make it an unlisted video, then pop the link to the video in your diary/Observation.  You can do this on any system.

We are the only complete solution on the market for every child care setting.

Not true.  MegaMinder is free and does nearly all the same stuff, Owl Track also does everything, EY Log, Evernote and Connect Childcare, also do everything.  There is also on offline service that does all the same stuff as Baby’s Days, called Jeans DataBase that gets fantastic, (uncensored) reviews and the lady that runs it is apparently very helpful.  In fact all of the systems have really great reviews, of course I’ve read the odd one or two gripe, but when you consider most of these systems are free it’s amazing really they have the time and money to be so customer orientated.  Especially when you conisdier how much Baby’s Days costs and how awful I’ve found their Customer Service to be.

There is a Facebook group for the other systems where the owners answer questions you might have if anyone wants to have a nose, click here.  Baby’s Days aren’t in there as they don’t like to answer questions such as, “Can Baby’s Days see my data and access my system”.

I could go on and on, the bottom line is whoever writes their advertising doesn’t know the competition very well and is making a load of inaccurate claims.  The advert has been reported to The Advertising Standards Agency and I will hear back form them in a few weeks.  If you also feel their advertising is misleading, feel free to contact the Advertising Standards Agency yourself too.

Here is the advert, as you can see a good chunk of it is outight fibbing.  The bits that are left aren’t exactly ground breaking.

One claim I’m not sure sure about….

Baby’s Days is used by more child care settings than any other software system on the market

Really?  Is it?  How can they be so sure?  Any pearls of wisdom readers?

It goes without saying all the views in this blog post are my own, I’m not affiliated with any of the companies, I could have misunderstood what some of them offer and there may be ever more out there that do just as good a job as those mentioned here, feel free to add any in the comments section.  If you want to look into a new system yourself just type into google “EYFS software” and you will get a load of results.  Happy Reading!

Pop back tomorrow for the Friday special guest blogger post!

 

 

Comparison of Online EYFS Software providers Orginally published Oct 2013.

A lady set up a blog and on October 22nd, 2013 she published a post about her search for an on-line system.  Since she had put so much time and effort into researching the available options she decided to compile the information into a blog post to help others in the same situation.  I have kindly been sent copies of the blog, which was erased without the owners permission and sadly she didn’t have a back up.

With the owners permission I have recreated the blog post below (less the comments which will be blogged about separately) to help those comparing online systems.  Please not the information was compiled in October 2013 and may be out of date.  I have amended some of the information but can not guarantee it’s accuracy entirely.

“Posted on October 22, 2013 by Sarah — 61 Comments

Online learning journeys are becoming increasingly popular with childminders to help reduce the amount of time spent completing paperwork and promote partnership with parents. I started off with a paper-based system but am in the process of changing to an online system. There are several different options available but it can be difficult to find unbiased information, so I thought I would share my research and opinions to help any other childminders considering making the switch. I have full or trial access to all of the systems in this review and the information comes either from their websites or from emails answering my questions.

Orbit

Cost: Free. The website is funded by paid advertising within the family section of the website. The evalution, tracking and reporting functions are only available once 50% of active children are linked to parents.

Features: Orbit allows practitioners to:

  • Collect observations of each child
  • Assess learning in line with the 2012 EYFS Framework
  • Create a personalised album of each child’s experiences
  • Evaluate children and track progress over time
  • See “All About Me” information about each child and their family
  • Receive postcards of each child’s at-home learning experiences.

Security: Orbit uses an extended validation certificate and data is stored remotely in Cloud servers.  Their safeguarding information sheet explains that the app does not permanently store data on mobile devices, to ensure that there is no data protection issue if the device is lost or stolen. Orbit scored an overall rating of A in the independent Qualys Security Assessment, and the site uses most recent and secure TLS 1.2 protocol.

Usability: The site is extremely simple and easy to use. This means that practitioners can have the system up and running within a very short time. There is a comprehensive help section including video tutorials and a forum.

Apps: There is an app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, but there is no Android app available at the moment.

Positives: I liked the way that observations are saved first and you can then add an assessment linking it to Characteristics of Effective Learning, Development Matters or Early Learning Goals at a later time. This would be really useful for taking a photo or writing a quick note, without having to worry about filling in all the details there and then.

Negatives: Although parents can send “postcards” with photos and details about what the child has been doing at home, they cannot comment directly on the observations made by the practitioner so two-way communication is limited.

Summary: Perfect for easily creating and printing Learning Journeys, but has limited communication with parents when used as an online system.

megaMinder

Cost: Free. The website is funded by advertising.

Features: megaMinder provides both learning journals and other communication and administration tools, such as a noticeboard, policies, risk assessments, fire drill records, incident reports, medication records, outing permissions, questionnaires and invoicing. As well as daily diaries and observations, there are tools to complete initial assessments and 2 year assessments, and a milestones section to view achieved Development Matters statements in each area of learning.

Security: Data is stored on UK-based servers and backed up daily. There is a Privacy and Cookies Policy available to read on the website. megaMinder scored an overall rating of A in the independent Qualys Security Assessment, although the site uses the older TLS 1.0 protocol rather than the more secure TLS 1.2.

Usability: The website is fairly straightforward to use, although the number of features means that it takes longer to setup fully than a simple learning journey system. Parents must navigate to daily diaries and observations by date, although there is also a gallery for each. There is a support ticket system and a set of tutorial videos.

Apps: As a recently launched site, apps are not available at the moment.

Positives: The system allows for excellent two way interaction between parents and practitioners.  Parents can accept policies, sign permissions, provide additional information and comment on daily diaries and observations.

Negatives: Currently there is no way to download or print learning journeys, although this will hopefully be implemented in the near future.

Summary: Lots of features and excellent partnership with parents.

2Build A Profile

Cost: £29 per year for a childminder.

Features: The system consists of an app to take photos, add a writen observations and select Development Matters statements. There is also a web management suite where you can setup classes and learners, download pupil portfolios as a PDF file, or view coverage and progress through areas of learning.

Security: There is general information about privacy, security and data protection available on the website. The 2Build A Profile web management suite scored an overall rating of F in the independent Qualys Security Assessment, due to using the obsolete and insecure SSL 2 protocol.

Usability: The app is straightforward to use and the website is simple, but rather basic and dated.  There is a user guide and tutorial videos.

Apps: Available for both Apple and Android devices.

Positives: Covers the Welsh Foundation Phase, Scottish CfE Early Level and Australian EYLF as well as the EYFS.

Negatives: Next Steps and Characteristics of Learning have to be filled in manually. Does not include many features for a paid system. There is no built-in parental involvement unless you buy 2Engage Parents at a cost of £199 per year.

Summary: In my opinion, the features are rather basic considering this is a paid system. For some practitioners, this system will be “too simple”.

Tapestry

Cost: £36 annual subscription for childminders in one of the 40participating local authorities, with a full refund within the first month if you are not satisfied. Practitioners in other areas will need to purchase a £24 Foundation Stage Forum membership first.

Features: Learning journeys can include notes, photographs, videos, EYFS assessments and characteristics of learning. Parents can add their their own observations and both staff and parents can comment on observations in the child’s learning journey, which enables excellent two-way communication. Journals can be downloaded as PDF files.

Security: There was no easily available information about data privacy and security, so I had a quick look through the forums. It seems that the data is held on UK-based servers with regular backups. Mega Minder scored an overall rating of A in the independent Qualys Security Assessment, although the site uses the older TLS 1.0 protocol rather than the more secure TLS 1.2.

Usability: The website is well-designed and easy to navigate. Adding children, parents or relatives and observations is very simple. There is a support ticket system and a forum with tutorials.

Apps: There is an app for iPhone and iPad, with an Android app in the final stages of beta testing.

Positives: I particularly liked the analysis section. The overview shows statistics about all the children and observations, such as what percentage have been replied to by parents. You can also select individual or multiple children to analyse their progress and the thoroughness of observations. Tapestry also promotes excellent partnership with parents.

Negatives: Tapestry is not designed to do anything other than observations and learning journals.

Summary: Excellent for observations and partnership with parents, but may not be the right system for childminders looking for additional features.

Baby’s Days

Cost: This is the most expensive system, at £108.99 per year or £119.88 if you choose the monthly subscription option. You cannot cancel your subscription within the first 12 months. (Please note these costs are no longer accurate, it now costs £118 per year or £143.88 if you pay monthly.  Both options have a £11.99 set up fee.  It is unclear if you’re tired in for 6 months or 12 months as the information varies depending on which page on the website you look at.)

Features: However, it also has the most comprehensive features. Some childminders may find that they only want to use a few of the available features, whilst for others the system may completely replace any written paperwork. The list of features on the website includes: Policies, Permissions, Contracts, Diaries, Menus, Progress, 2 Year Progress Check, Statistics, Bookkeeping, Invoices, Expenses, Short Term and Medium Term Planning, Next Steps, Observations, Individual Learning Plans, Attendance Registers, Risk Assessments, Daily Check List, Fire Drills, Fire Plans, Occupancy Levels, Medical section incorporating Short and Long Term Medications, Accidents, incidents & Existing Injuries and Concerns, Temperatures, Photograph Galleries, Newsletters, QuickMessages, Audio clips, complete Parental Access allowing your parents to view their children’s data and photographs and more.

Security: The website provides lots of details about how the data is kept secure. Their servers are in the UK at a ISO 27001 certified data centre. Information about data backup and their data protection registration with ICO is also available.

***The link to the independent security assessment has been removed after I received a phonecall on my private mobile number threatening legal action if I did not remove the information within 1 hour. I received a further 20 missed calls within that hour and then a call on my home phone number, demanding that I remove all mention of the company and issue a public apology, which I refused to do.***

Usability: In my opinion, the layout is cluttered and confusing. The complexity of the system means that it can take a long time for practitioners to be confident in using it. I found the parents’ side of the website less engaging than some of the other systems. There is a support ticket system and help videos are available for each section of the site.

Apps: There is no app available at the moment. The site can be used on tablets but is fiddly on phones.

Positives: New features are added regularly. Some childminders may find the next steps, individual learning plans, short term plans and medium term plans useful.

Negatives: As far as I can tell, each area of learning has to be printed separately rather than in traditional learning journey style with chronological observations and photographs. Personally I prefer an informal scrapbook-style format with photos and notes to engage parents, rather than progress statistics and tables. Many users seem to have problems with emails being blocked or placed into junk/spam folders.

The Baby’s Days response is that the problem is due to the email providers, and that users should use Gmail and check their spam folder, but personally I don’t find that to be an acceptable solution.

Apparently there are also issues with certain browsers. I have designed a few websites and in my opinion it is the developer’s responsibility to test and ensure that their site is compatible with all major browsers, rather than suggesting that users are responsible for using a certain browser.

Summary: This system can replace almost all paperwork.”