Choosing the right Church Management Software is a big decision. Your ChMS (or CMS) will cost money. It will house all of your church’s vital information, determine how you administer data, track giving, manage event sign ups and who has access to reports. Whether you are looking at ChMS options for the first time or you are considering moving away from your current ChMS, it’s important that you choose the right software for your church. Having used several different church management systems myself, I’d like to share three tips when comparing and choosing a ChMS.
* Do A “User Friendliness” Survey – Ask ministry colleagues who use or have used the products you’re considering and ask them how simple the software is to use. Then lean toward the most user-friendly software. Why? A ChMS that is simpler to operate, is a product that is much more likely to be used. Non-intuitive software doesn’t get used as much. An unused church management software product is a waste of money.
* Do A “Hidden Costs” Survey – Again, ask your ministry friends if they have experienced any unforeseen expenses with their ChMS. Some ChMS products have basic packages that lack many advanced features. To access the advanced features, you have to upgrade. Some ChMS companies offer training for their products but that training costs extra. The best church management software products are those with no surprise costs.
* Avoid Companies Protect Their Own Interests First – In today’s marketplace and economy we must be able to discern between service providers who look out for themselves and those who look out for you. Companies who put on the “hard sell” are looking out for their own interests. Those who require long contracts and have early cancellation fees are looking out for their own interests.
Let me use my dad as an example. He’s been a self employed appliance repairman for over 45 years. When he was young he would tell people, “I’ll come to your house and diagnose your appliance for $49. If you have me do your repair, that $49 will be waived. I’ll only charge for labor and parts.” It sounded good, but in truth he was protecting his interests. He felt like he needed to be paid every time he set foot in a client’s home.
Now that he’s in his 80s, he has a totally different approach. Now he tells his customers, “Let me diagnose it for you over the phone for free. If you want me to make the repair, then I’ll come do it.” many
times he just tells folks how to fix the problem themselves. People adore him for taking this approach because he’s looking out for their interests before his own. In doing so, he has loyal customers for life. He says to me frequently, “I wish I’d always done business this way.”
Okay, back to ChMS. A company who offers their products and services with no contracts and no cancellation fees is one who is saying, “We are so confident that you will be happy, that we are not afraid to lose you.” Companies who sell hard and cover their interests on the back end are saying, “We are not confident that you’ll be happy, and we are afraid to lose your business.”