Tag Archives: cloud computing

40% Off IconCMO Lite

Version 1.2 of the IconCMO Lite App is now available!

Some minor bugs were fixed and a ‘Go to Household’ button was added on the Member Detail screen. The biggest change is the price reduction – you can now purchase the app for only $2.99! If you already have the app, you can install the update for free by following the directions below.

To install the update:

  1. Connect your device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) to the Internet.
  2. On the home screen, tap the “App Store” icon.
  3. On the bottom right corner of the screen, tap the “Updates” tab to display a list of available updates for your apps.
  4. On the right, tap the gray “Update” button.
  5. You will now be prompted to enter a password – this is the same password you use to make App Store purchases.
  6. Tap the “OK” button to download and install the update.

IconCMO Lite is a native iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) app from Italic Software, Inc. The app provides pastors, staff, and even church members with the ability to view demographic data from IconCMO on the go – visit www.iconcmo.com for more information or visit the iTunes Store to download the app.

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You asked, we listened!

We made a couple of changes to the contribution entry window:

Speed Contributions Entry:

The contribution entry screen has been slightly rearranged and modified to allow for fast keyboard access. The “currency type” option was moved up, and you can now use the “Enter” key to move between fields on the entry screen.

Allow EFT and Non-Cash Gifts in Contributions:

To enable churches to more accurately record contributions, we’ve added the ability to choose “EFT” and “Non-Cash” as currency types on the contributions entry screen. Posting journals and other contribution reports were modified accordingly. Non-Cash allows you to record gifts in kind with a zero amount as per IRS guidelines. Additional reports were added to give the church a record of all non-cash donations by date range.

Also in response to the many requests we received:

Icon Systems is happy to present the 2011 Year End Processing Tutorial Video. We are planning to create more tutorial videos down the road, so any comments or suggestions you have are most welcome! As always, the Year End Processing Guide is also available under your Getting Started menu in IconCMO or you can click here for a copy.


Church Software for Districts and its Churches.

The evaluation of district software for churches should take into account the various tasks performed at each level of the organization (e.g. Church, District, Regional, National, World Offices).

Capabilities of District Software:

  1. The ability to move a church from one regional office to another.
  2. Communication capabilities both within a single entity as well as between each entity throughout the organization.
  3. Communication is based on roles within the organization – e.g. regional secretaries versus church secretaries.
  4. Adding church plants or multisite campuses.

Using one software system throughout the organization helps simplify day-to-day operations

If the software is capable of handling data for individual churches as well as multi-site organizations, users do not have to learn more than one system and data entry is more consistent. The use of a single system throughout the district also allows each church to uniquely structure its own chart of accounts, contribution funds, etc. while allowing the district office to combine the data from each church into one consolidated report.

For example, a district office could collect the membership data from each individual church and consolidate it into one report to analyze the organization as a whole. An individual church would also be able to track several youth or memorial funds that would show as one youth or memorial fund total on the district office reports. The ability to customize separate structures for both levels is crucial.

Why is all this important?

First, the software needs to tackle head-on the various issues each entity is facing at their respective levels. Having one system reduces errors in reporting, ensures a high level of data integrity, increases speed in data gathering, and prevents the users from having to learn and manage five different systems.

We will use an orchestra to illustrate this concept: if each musician was playing a different musical composition would you expect a well-tuned concert? Certainly not – all the musicians have to be on the same page of the same song. The same is true when it comes to the technology used in churches and throughout the entire organization – shouldn’t the same software be used so your ministry can operate in-sync like an orchestra?

Second, providing data to the district office gives an early indication if certain churches will need help financially or within their ministry staff. It can help to determine which entities are flourishing with donations or declining. Is attendance increasing at one location but not the other? All of these and many more questions are answered objectively with the right software in place.

Third, with a one-system approach, confidentiality across the platform is essential so one church cannot view another church’s records. The system must also allow churches to opt out of sending data to the district office. Most district software packages fail in one or more of these areas: membership, financials, data gathering and confidentiality. But you can rest assured because there is an answer for district offices → IconCMO+ software!


Church Software Jargon: SaaS

Definition of SaaS:

Software as a Service (SaaS) is software that is rented rather than purchased. Instead of buying software and paying for periodic upgrades, SaaS is subscription-based, and all upgrades are provided during the term of the subscription. When the subscription period expires, the software is no longer valid.

SaaS can be implemented with local applications that expire after a certain time, but it is ideally suited for cloud computing in the Internet and Web browser-based applications, which can run in any desktop or mobile device, no matter the operating system. In this model, the applications are maintained in the service provider’s datacenter, and every time users launch their browsers and log on, they get the latest version. In addition, the data can also be stored in the provider’s datacenter.

This approach has been touted as the wave of the future, many believing that local applications will be history down the road. However, legacy architectures tend to last longer than expected, and the road could be long. (PCMag)

Church Management Software as a Service

The popularity of using the SaaS concept with web-based applications has grown due to the increased availability of broadband internet access. Paying a monthly or annual subscription allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere you have internet access while letting someone else host the software, install updates and enhancements, store and safeguard your data, perform backups, and deal with any outages.

SaaS is like living in an apartment: you pay rent each month based on how much space you occupy (e.g. a three-bedroom apartment would cost more than a studio.) The management company is responsible for resolving any problems such as when the heat stops working or if the appliances need to be updated. And if you decide to move, you can take all of your furnishings and belongings (church’s data) with you.

Many churches are quickly adapting this concept because they can spend less time and money on Information Technology (IT) while getting immediate access to the latest technological innovations. Also, the financial risk you take is lowered significantly; instead paying the hefty license fee associated with traditional software upfront, you only pay for what you use and the subscription fee can easily be incorporated into your budget. And if, for some reason, the software is no longer meeting the needs of your church – you can take your data with you. For more information, read our post on security and data storage.


Benefits of a Church Payroll Solution (Part II).

Church Payroll Software Cost and its Benefits

One option for churches is to outsource payroll responsibilities. Payroll services typically charge $1 or more per check, with a minimum fee of $10-25 each pay period. Additional fees are often incurred for quarterly reports and W-2 preparation. These fees can amount to a substantial number over time.

Another option is for the church to purchase payroll software, which usually requires annual upgrades. These upgrades are not only expensive, but the installation process also consumes your valuable time.

The Icon Systems payroll module provides you with an unlimited number of paychecks and pay periods for any number of employees for only $110 a year. Since the system is entirely web-based, upgrades are automatic and cost you nothing extra. Additionally, the web based capability allows payroll checks to be prepared offsite but printed on location for the staff.

Price should not be the only factor considered when choosing a payroll system. The benefits of using the right church payroll software are numerous; however, we summarized the most important ones here.

  • Confidentiality – Church payroll software needs to be password-protected so only authorized people have access to this confidential information. You can have volunteers and staff members use the system to enter contributions and even process accounts payable checks without making sensitive payroll figures available.
  • Accuracy– The importance of accuracy in any church payroll system cannot be overemphasized. Not only do employees rely on the church to calculate paychecks correctly, but reports created for the IRS and other government entities also need to be accurate. Issues concerning pay tend to quickly dissolve trust in any organization, not to mention inaccurate reporting to the government could result in heavy fines.
  • Integration – Using separate church payroll software requires you to summarize the information and record the journal entries in the accounting system. Since the IconCMO Payroll module links directly to the fund accounting records, you are able to allocate staff pay to various funds as well as obtain up-to-date, detailed reports that comply with guidelines set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB.)
  • Reliability – Icon Systems has been in the business of helping churches for the past 20 years and its certified church accounting software follows the FAS 95 and 117 guidelines. Since you trust Icon Systems to take care of your organization’s accounting needs, it makes sense to turn to us for your payroll needs also.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this two-part series about church payroll software – if you missed the first post, you can read it here.


The Secret to Affordable Church Payroll Software! (Part 1)

Payroll is one of the most difficult, time consuming, and costly administration tasks churches repeatedly encounter. Churches of all sizes are required to use “fund accounting” as described by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines. Fund accounting is a specialized way of accounting designed for non-profits; if you use this accounting method we recommend you read this informative interview with Nate at The Church Accounting Software Guide.

More often than not, Payroll + Fund Accounting = Confusion

FASB Reporting guidelines add to the difficulty, time, and costs already associated with payroll. For example, churches can use money in the General Fund and the Youth Fund to pay the Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor, respectively. Alternatively, both Pastors may be paid using money from the General Fund. On top of regular income, IRS reporting and taxes vary for items such as housing allowances and vehicle expenses. Paying church staff members can also prove to be tricky; reporting and taxes for hourly or salaried employees follow a completely different set of guidelines altogether. Payroll management also tends to get significantly more complicated for multisite organizations.

Payroll does NOT have to be time-consuming

The initial setup of a payroll system is expected to take some time; however, this task may be considered to be of lesser importance since it is not recurring. Completing the payroll for each pay period, on the other hand, needs to be fast and relatively simple. An effective, easy-to-use church payroll solution will substantially reduce the time needed for you to complete recurring payroll cycles, therefore lowering the overall costs associated with payroll. Evaluate your current payroll system by asking yourself these questions:

  1. How long does it take me to print employee paychecks?
  2. Can I pay tax liabilities to government agencies quickly and efficiently with only a few clicks of the mouse?
  3. Are the liability accounts automatically updated when I cut checks to make these payments?

*Making consistent entries to liability and expense accounts each pay cycle minimizes the likelihood of mistakes.

The Ultimate Cost-Saving Secret:

Systems that charge thousands of dollars for payroll essentially offer the same benefits and features as basic payroll software. Some of the expensive payroll systems do not even comply with fund accounting guidelines. The price of church payroll software is dependent on who enters the tax formulas, so find a package that requires the church to input the tax formulas. If your church leaders are willing to put in a few hours of work at the start, they can save the church hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year in payroll expenses.

Icon Systems has streamlined the recurring task of paying employees by incorporating payroll into the IconCMO fund accounting software system in order to reduce the difficulty, time, and high costs associated with church payroll administration!


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