Tag Archives: SaaS

8 Things to Do When You Review Church Software in the Cloud

  1. Define your needs. Make a list of the things you want the software to accomplish and rank them by importance. Getting caught up in all of the hype is easy, so knowing your priorities before you get started will help keep you on track.
  2. Take the program for a test drive. Sign up for a free trial so you can see the system for yourself. It is probably a bad sign if you can’t ‘try it before you buy it.’
  3. Contact the support team. Did a real person answer your call? How long did it take for them to respond to your email? Sometimes software companies forget about the Service part of SaaS. If you can’t get technical help or answers to your questions, it does not matter if the program has all the features you need and more. The quality of service is what is really going to matter to you at the end of the day.
  4. Find out what kind of training is available. Does the company provide training? If so, does it cost extra? Do you have access to training as well as support during the free trial?
  5. Talk to people already using the system. See if anyone you know is using the system and ask the company for customer references (If they refuse, it might be a red flag – maybe no one is using the software or maybe the people using the software are unhappy.)
  6. Analyze the security and compliance. Is the data secure and encrypted? Who has access to your data? How often are backups performed? Can you get a copy of the backup file?
  7. Ask if they have a Disaster Recovery Plan. How often do they test it? Does it work?
  8. Read the contract. Will the price increase every few months if you don’t sign a long contract? How often is your subscription cost adjusted (whether it’s up or down) based on your usage level? Do you own the data?
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Cloud Computing – Security Myths Explained for Churches.

Cloud computing church management (or cloud based church management) is really a no-brainer for churches. The biggest advantage for the smaller church is; it frees up the time for the minister or other staff that are stretched thin to minister to the community and their members. It allows them to further their mission without worrying about the back-end data. For the larger organization; it saves them the nightly backup headaches, money from hiring an IT staff, and time. At Icon Systems we often hear several reasons why a church won’t move their data to the cloud. One is because of the security of their data. The data security issue is often laughable. When a church compares its current security practices with the safeguards available in the cloud by IT professionals, state of the art data centers, and security consultants at a fraction of the cost, this discussion usually vaporizes.

Often one of the underlying issues is that someone does not want the data taken from the church’s property. This reason is ironic because every security expert would agree that your data should be kept in at least two places which would force the organization to take the data off the premise. Additionally, security experts agree that the data should be a considerable distance apart because of natural catastrophes – IE: 1,000 miles or greater because of floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes. One of the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish this is to send it to the cloud at another location. When you start factoring in the cost of doing this as one organization it simply does not pay, because the organization can not leverage economies of scale like a software company that serves thousands of clients. Economies of scale is also why churches can not hire proficient security consultants in the industry for the servers they have in their data center. Churches are hiring one person to take care of one organization instead of hiring one person to take care of thousands of organizations with the same hardware and software architecture.

Another aspect that is often over looked for on premise computing is the budgets for the infrastructure that houses the servers. The budgets for on premise computing is relentlessly being cut back and one of those repercussions is security. In fact one of the first things to be cut is the security. The opposite is true for companies that are in the business of offering cloud computing solutions. They invest their revenue into state of the art facilities so they can have better hardware, software, security measures, data centers, remote recovery procedures, etc. at their disposal and beat their competition. This is one of the reasons Icon Systems is one of the only software companies that offer 256 bit data encryption the entire time the user is logged in – a feature that other companies charge extra for. The data centers they use are seen as profit centers (how they make their money) and not overhead (loss money with no return) as in other organizations. Cloud computing companies see security as part of their bread and butter because without investing in it they would go bankrupt.

Can cloud computing be scary from the security stand point? – Yes it can be. Understanding where the fear comes from within the organization is job number one. Assessing that fear to see if it is a valid fear or a myth is the next step. If it truly exist then what steps are necessary to minimize the risk? Does the solution provider have the right protocols in place for it? Remember this important rule – cloud computing is just as safe if not safer than on premise computing.

Jay
Technical Sales – Data Conversions – Multisite Strategies
Icon Systems, Inc.

SaaS Software for Church Management

First we should start with a definition of SaaS which was given by Wikipedia. ” is a model of software deployment whereby a provider licenses an application to customers for use as a service on demand. SaaS software vendors may host the application on their own web servers or download the application to the consumer device, disabling it after use or after the on-demand contract expires.” Please see our updated definition!

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