In today’s economy everyone is watching what they spend money on, including groceries.
Many factors can complicate our choices. For example, choosing the item with the lowest price on a grocery shelf doesn’t always mean a bargain. Why? Because the shelf has a price per unit (eg: ounce, liter, pound) for that particular brand.
In America we are fortunate that we have such a wide selection of food. But there’s a downside. It may take a little longer to determine what a good value is. Determining value transcends into everything we buy, including church management software (ChMS). Checking out ChMS feature charts, comparing prices or even using references are all prudent measures; however, they don’t answer the root question:
“Does the solution solve the true needs of the organization at the best value?”
I know many shoppers are loyal to one brand because it tastes better to them, and that’s okay. I coin this as the brand loyalist syndrome. I suffer from it with ketchup – I will only use Heinz :). But we see this same loyalty with church software even when the software is a detriment to the church’s mission.
A Grocery Example:
Below are four jars of pickles listed below with varying prices and features.
- Jar #1 ($4.19 8oz.) – unit price is $0.052 (features: easy to open lid, dill spears, and zesty)
- Jar #2 ($4.99 12oz.) – unit price is $0.042 (features: easy to open lid , dill slices, bread & butter)
- Jar #3($5.49 8oz.) – unit price is $0.069 (features: easy to open lid, dill slices, bread and butter)
- Jar #4 ($4.79 12oz.) – unit price is $0.039 (features: normal lid, dill slices, bread and butter)
Analyzing by price alone, Jar #1 would be the winner ($4.19 is the lowest price), yet it’s not the best bargain when comparing price per unit because Jar #4 is .039 per oz.
Analyzing price in its various forms is only one facet to determining what the best value is for the money. A consumer must also pick based on their needs. What if the consumer needed an easy to open lid? Jar #2 is the clear winner here whereas Jar #4 is not even in the running because this feature is not available.
What if the consumer wanted bread and butter pickles that are found in jars #2, #3 and #4? In this case, Jar #4 is the best value out of the three.
Still, that’s not the whole story. What if the production facility is filling the jars with mostly water and giving you fewer pickles? The consumer may find out that Jar #3 is the best value because it has the most pickles.
Analyzing a jar of pickles is daunting when there are many things to consider like price per unit, types of pickles, net weight (removing the water), and easy to open lids for users. Imagine how much harder it is analyzing church software when each solution has thousands of features that have to satisfy multiple users across various ministries.
The task is made harder yet when you look at each feature from various angles as we did with the pickles: bottom line price vs. price per unit, easy to open lids verses normal lids, net weight of product….
An Example of a Church Software Feature:
Let’s use an example of entering in donations. I think it is safe to say every ChMS company has this capability; however, how would you rate them when one has more keystrokes to enter a weekly transaction than another? Would you rate them the same if the one that takes more keystrokes can give you 10X better reporting and graphing than the one that takes fewer strokes?
This small example points to a very real fact that churches must do an in depth analysis of…
- their needs
- their wants
- the importance of each need and want
- user feedback on each feature within each package
- having the correct feature set for the church
These are just some of the items to review, and unfortunately none of them can be answered looking at a feature charts or gathering referrals.
It’s prudent for churches to get a demo of the actual product and see it performing the task they want.
Requesting a webinar, which shows the product and its ability to prospective clients, is another great way to match the organization’s goals to the software’s capabilities. Don’t rely on a PowerPoint slide and a promise that the software can accomplish everything you need.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, analyze each need the church has, match that to the software, analyze how that feature is deployed, and then determine which one the users like the best.
There are some features that may be worth more to the church than others and those needs should be weighted appropriately.