Last week we posted some questions you can ask software companies so your church can weed through the counterfeits and find a truly cloud-based system.
If you missed, it read the first post in this series. Today we are going to help you identify the technical features that are the most important to look for in a church management system.
Depending on the application, there is typically a realized savings in the cost of hardware over a period of time. When the church only has to replace desktop computers, laptops, and tablets the hardware cost goes down considerably. Applications that run on the Internet only need a little processing power and an Internet connection.
Desktop and laptop computers are getting cheaper every day. The tablet market’s competition keeps prices in check and maintenance for tablets is a fraction of desktop systems. Some churches run their entire office entirely on tablets, with the exception of a few desktop computers for some specialized graphical production needs. As you can imagine, this substantially cuts the hardware cost down.
Integration with Other Systems
Integration with other systems is an area where Internet solutions outperform non-web-based systems. An online directory that pulls data from the church’s database in real time is a good example. The automatic integration speeds up development for other systems by reusing the church’s data (e.g. names and contact information) with a slightly different user interface (i.e. the online directory).
Now you have two systems using the same data – the church software containing the data and the website displaying the online directory. You can have just one database to update and have multiple systems accessing it that are using the data in various other ways. By using an API (Application Programmer’s Interface), the end user can create custom reports by pulling online donation data from the credit card processor directly into the church’s database.
Maintaining Web Based Systems are Typically Easier and Cost Less
Having data in one centralized location decreases time spent on support calls between clients and the software vendor. When software vendors can dedicate fewer resources on support, they can focus on making the software a better product for the clients.
Icon Systems has compared the two products that we sell: one is a desktop solution and the other is a web-based solution. Support calls for the web-based solution are typically shorter in length by an astonishing 25% or more. The web-based system also allows churches to assign access credentials to external professionals like CPAs. Even though these professionals may be working from another office, they have access to the system so they can review data, ensure compliance and prepare reports when needed.
Why do church software companies use Stop- Gap Technologies (Steve Hewitt, Page 1) to compensate for software that was not originally made for the Internet?
It comes down to cost. Software companies would have to rewrite the entire solution to clear the hurdle of obtaining complete portability. It costs a lot to redevelop a desktop solution into an Internet solution. Icon Systems did exactly that. It took us 3 years – from 1999 to 2002 – of steady development to get our system on the Internet. Yep, you read that right: three whole years.
Why did we take the plunge?
- We wanted to ensure the IconCMO solution did not have any of the limitations we mentioned above.
- Many church software companies that were on DOS died out when Windows came out and they did not adapt. Our clients will have a solution that extends into the foreseeable future (i.e. mobile computing like tablets and smart phones).
- It was the right thing to do for our clients. We wanted to ensure that we were giving them the best software architecture, not lead them to believe our software is something that it is not.