Monday morning starts, just like most mornings start.  A cup of coffee, small chat with a few co-workers, and then head to your desk to get the day going.  Most likely you do not even think about it.  You push the power button on the desktop or tablet, wait a little bit, open a program or two and your church management software is up and running.  There are profiles to update, events to create, emails to send, and a host of other responsibilities that you hope your ChMS can handle.  You use this software every day, but do you really KNOW your church management software provider?

The New Year brings us opportunities to evaluate many aspects of our life, so, have you evaluated your current church management software recently?  If this evaluation is on your radar this year, here are a few things to consider.

Church Software Service and Training

Switching ChMS’s, even if it is the right thing to do, is a daunting task. Some churches have been with their current providers for many years, so changing now is the equivalent of learning a new language. If you have decided that this is the right course for your church, you must ask yourself some very important questions, such as:

What does the providers service and support look like?

Can you call and get someone on the phone?

Can you email?

How quickly do they respond?

Will they even know who you are?

Are only certain people at the church allowed to call?

Will they reach out to you proactively?

The most common complaint about ChMS vendors is that their service stinks. If this is your experience, and you are considering a change, how do you ensure that this transition will go well for your church and that this pain point will cease with your switch?

Do you pay more each month for a premium support package?

Are there online tutorials and forums to assist you?

Is a complete service package included in your purchase?

How can you assure you and your co-workers that this transition will work for your Church?

Make sure you ask these questions and get an answer before you switch.

Church Software Mobile Functionality

We live in an increasingly mobile world.  If the ChMS you are evaluating does not have a mobile solution by now, they will most likely be an obsolete system within 12 months, if they are not already.  If they have a mobile solution, what does it look like?

Does it have the core functionality you would expect a mobile solution to have?

Can you edit profiles, take notes, move through processes, take attendance, look up data, check in children to an event, etc?

Does it work on all operating systems (IOS, Android, Windows)? A ChMS that does not have an easy to use Mobile Solution should not be a choice for a change in 2016.

Church Software Leadership and Ownership Background

Have you thought about who owns the ChMS you are considering? While this may not be a popular aspect to think through, it is important.  Is the system you are considering owned and operated by a couple guys working out of their basement or a large Private Equity Firm that only cares about the bottom line?

Are they in tune to the mission of the Church, or focused on the bottom line each month? If you wanted to speak to the leadership of the ChMS, could you?

Who are they?

Do they understand churches?

Is this an obsession for them, a hobby, or just a paycheck? There is no right answer to this question, you just need to know what you are getting into before you jump ship.

Church Software Thought Leadership and Roadmap

Whatever ChMS you ultimately choose, their road map is one of the most critical pieces that you must consider.  Technology changes and evolves at a record pace, and if the ChMS you are considering has not changed and adapted to technology in the last year, you would be prudent to really think through whether or not they are the choice for you.  Ask to see the company’s roadmap and plan for the future, if they cannot provide one for you, they probably aren’t the right choice for you.  If they do provide one for you, you must consider whether they are providing fluff to get the sale, or a real roadmap with realistic goals and delivery dates.  Understand what you’re buying in to: a roadmap and a long-term relationship. So, make sure you ask about their development roadmap.

Can you impact that roadmap with your ideas?

Will the vendor listen to you?

How fast are they releasing?  These are all things to consider if you are thinking about changing ChMS providers.

It is an incredibly challenging task changing software systems.  Take your time, ask questions, dig as deep as possible, and above all else KNOW your new software provider.