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Choosing the right system to help a childcare organisation move forward

Dog and Bone recently assisted Sparkways, an early years education and care provider, to make an informed decision on the best childcare management system to support their delivery of childcare services, improve efficiencies and communicate with families.

“Dog and Bones independence was a critical factor for engaging them for this project. This allowed us to ensure the advice that was given was not tainted by any pre-existing relationships with the vendors and provided us with peace of mind that the right solution was being put forward”.

Jo Moloney – CEO Sparkways

The client

Sparkways are a leading not for profit provider of early childhood education and care with a long and proud history of empowering children and young people that operates centres across Melbourne. Serving a diverse community of families across a large geographical area, they have been undertaking a multi-year program of improving their IT capabilities to better serve their families and communities, reduce administrative burden and operate more effectively.

Projects and services

Having supported Sparkways with a Technology assessment, Managed Service Provider selection and HR systems reviews, Dog and Bone were engaged to help with selecting a new childcare management system. The existing system had been outgrown, was based on old and no longer fit-for-purpose technology and was not able to grow to meet the organisation’s developing needs. Dog and Bone was engaged to define and run a process to find a suitable replacement.


Through a collaborative process and drawing on the sector expertise of the Sparkways staff, Dog and Bone ran a structured process to understand their requirements, balancing the need for greatly improved family experience against more efficient operations. The requirements gathering process uncovered key needs for automation, integration, reporting and family self-service. The structured requirements process also took account of support and implementation priorities, with data migration and highly effective training being revealed as key needs.


A key factor was being able to work with the organisation’s existing technology landscape, including their commitment to Storypark as a family engagement tool. The need to integrate with their Business Central finance system and the desire to investigate options with the kindergarten side of the business.


Dog and Bone then performed a market scan, and in collaboration with the organisation’s key stakeholders, identified an initial list of candidate solutions and vendors that showed potential to meet the requirements. Using Dog and Bone’s straightforward procurement process, vendors were given the opportunity to formally respond to the requirements and present proposals that demonstrated not only good solution capability, but the ability to partner into the future.


Again, working closely with key stakeholders, Dog and Bone facilitated a scoring and evaluation exercise against carefully defined and agreed criteria, covering commercial, functional, services and implementation considerations. Once a short list of candidates had been agreed, Dog and Bone further guided the selection process by facilitating workshops with vendors and key stakeholders to resolve questions, confirm proposal details and finalise scoring.


Using a standardised procurement methodology, Dog and Bone worked with Sparkways to arrive at preferred vendor and solution, and then assisted with final negotiations and contract discussions. Dog and Bone’s evaluation methodology made it easy to identify the best fit solution and vendor, with automation capability, parent experience, direct integration with Storypark and support services all being clearly ahead of their competitors.


Dog and Bone’s straightforward, thorough approach guided the selection process to a successful outcome. Sparkways was able to select a solution having considered its needs more deeply, meaning it could be clearer about outcomes and priorities with the preferred vendor. Having engaged broadly across the organisation, it could also feel confident that stakeholder needs had been listened to, smoothing the way for a successful implementation. Finally, with the technical and industry insights Dog and Bone were able to provide, the organisation could make an informed decision knowing that it had identified a robust product that met technical requirements, with commercial terms that fit in the organisation’s budget and risk profile.


While the process aspects were important, the most important outcome was to set the implementation on the right path, with the vendor being clear on priorities and implementation needs, and the organisation being clear on how to make the implementation a success.


We are delighted to have helped Sparkways select the right solution, and looking forward to further assisting them as their system capability matures.

“The technical expertise provided by Dog and Bone is something that we didn’t have. Being able to lean on our consultant for guidance and support and having him stand by us throughout the whole engagement resulted in a smooth process and we are extremely happy with the outcome”. 

Jo Moloney


Get in touch

We'd love to chat with you on how we can help through technology and telecommunications strategy, procurement and management.


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