Spike is much more sophisticated than most small business software. It is more than just a productivity aid to help with the current task. It works by collecting information about your service, your policies, your clients, etc. which it then interprets using a vast amount of embedded child care business knowhow to accomplish business tasks. Your task therefore is mainly to tell the system about things you know, preferably as soon as possible after you find out. The system then manages the consequences.
Consider for example that the management committee has just determined a new fee structure. You need simply to tell the system which fees have changed and when they come into force, your task is then complete. The new scale of fees will automatically be applied by the billing system commencing on the correct week, be that next week, next month or even sometime next year. If you didn't find out in time and have already billed some accounts under the previous Charge Type, it will even recognise this as a problem and prompt you to revise those accounts.
You will find therefore you have to supply a lot of information before you can generate your first bills, the good bit though is you only have to tell it something once, so it is very efficient.
The Spike computer program has sections:
Booking & Billing - the dominant task of this section is the recording of enrolments, bookings and the generation of bills, along with all the information that goes with them. Emergency contacts are instantly accessible; service utilisation can be graphically represented at the touch of a button; CCB is easily calculated, recorded and claimed with a disk transfer option available. The printed bills also comply with requirements for Child Care Receipts needed for fees paid.
Records Management - this section is designed to support the Spike records management system. It records file names, indexes and keywords, and prints lists and labels.
Forms - A range of standard forms are provided that can be easily printed and then used immediately by your service. They include waiting list, casual and full enrolment forms, change notification, child accident and incident reports, medication records. Each form is personalised with the name of your service.
Utilities - This section includes various processes which, in the event of a database corruption, may be a necessary step to fix the problem. If you are experiencing any trouble, please call the Help Desk.
System - This section tells you what version of Spike is currently installed, controls Spike's password security and enables you to close the program.
This is the most complex and powerful section of the Spike software package. It is here that you will do most of your work so it is important to understand the thinking behind it.
At the core of its organisational structure, the Booking and Billing component of the Spike software is a database for compiling information about real things that we call objects. The primary objects that the system tracks are:
Children - Those who are or have been enrolled at the service
Adults - Anyone who is responsible for/associated with a child at the service
Groups - The different groups of children that exist within the service e.g. Babies, Toddlers, Kindy, Before School Care, After School Care and Vac Care.
Centre - Details of the service, its charging and billing parameters
Accounts - Where to send the child care bill each week.
You tell the system what you know about these objects and it will call upon this information whenever it is needed. For example, if you change your service's name in the Centre Details, the new name will automatically appear on all bills, forms etc.
If you have new information about an individual child, then you would go to the Child section of the software to record it. If you need to change the information that is kept about a parent, then go to Adult. If you want to add a new group go to Groups.