Finding the Right Church Software

Finding the Right Church Software?

Creating quality software can be a very difficult process.  Especially since everyone’s opinion on what makes quality software will vary.   Quality software can be categorized in a variety of ways such as:  Easy to use, flexible, to feature rich applications.  What are the advantages of each?  How do these categories affect a multi-site system?

Easy to Use Church Software – Creating software that is easy to use can be a difficult task.  Too many features and the software will quickly change from “easy-to-use” to difficult for the end user.  Every software company struggles with this conundrum.  Decision makers buying the software often times want flexible and feature rich application that does almost everything a church needs.  In contrast, the users want the software to be easy-to-use.  Many times these “wants” are at two ends of the spectrum where the decision makers and end users have to decide what they are really trying to accomplish. Otherwise frustration sets in for the user and the software, no matter what it can do, will never be used. Conversely, decision makers will conclude that the software does not work for the organization.

Flexible Church Software – Flexible software is very different than being feature rich software.  Flexible software allows you to move/use your data in more places with more people.  Software created strictly for the desktop (Microsoft Windows) and incapable of being accessed over a simple network would be considered very rigid and not flexible.  Almost all church software systems offer some form of flexibility with their software.  The most flexible church software systems are based in the cloud and accessible from any location at any time by hundreds of people from almost any electronic device.  The lines between rigid software and cloud based software has been blurring over the years.  Many desktop based systems are now offering what they call “Dashboards” for their software that allows certain sections of the application such as membership to be accessible on the Internet.  Using these guidelines we can categorize the three types of software into three categories.

  1. Desktop Software
  2. Desktop/Dashboard or Half n’ Half
  3. Cloud Based

Feature Rich Applications – Having a church software system that is feature rich is critical to having an effective solution.  However, if the system is so feature rich that the system becomes unusable to the user than you’ve lost your investment.  Many churches spend all their time looking for the most robust system they can find only to find out the person designated to using it doesn’t have the ability or time to take advantage of the features.  Churches also need to keep in mind that if they have a savvy user that can take advantage of a “feature rich application”, then buying software that doesn’t have the capabilities can be just as frustrating to the user.

Multi-site – You might be asking yourself why is the topic of “Multi-Site” even in an article such as this when the topic is discussing different aspects of software.  I thought it was appropriate as the environment a company uses to design the software will have a major impact on ease-of-use, flexibility and features available.  While any of the three types of software packages could accomplish the task only a cloud based system is truly designed with this ability by its very nature.  If 20 churches are trying to send their information from the desktop up to a district office, what are the difficulties that are going to arise?  Will firewalls prevent them from uploading their data?  Will it happen automatically or is it dependent on the user to manually upload it?  With a cloud based system the “Ease of Use” factor becomes greatly simplified.  All the data is already in the cloud and requires no hurtles for the multi-site office to review the information.  Choosing a Multi-Site system that functions completely in the cloud greatly increases the ease for implementation and flexibility of the solution to all users.

Bill Gifford
Icon Systems, Inc.

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