How did you do with the vision/mission task? Seriously, start there. If you haven't done that part, please don't read ahead! And if you have done that part, would you be willing to share what you came up with?
Now work on determining what the staff needs and wants, and set the criteria for usage mandates (or not) from the church executive team. Can the staff needs be met with a single product? Not from the technical “feature list” point of view, but from the practical usage point of view. Can the staff (and will the staff) use the product? If that answer is ‘no,’ then determine how to handle that before spending money on a new product. Realize that ‘no’ may actually be an acceptable answer, it just needs to be dealt with and the ramifications managed.
The congregation’s viewpoint is critical as well. Even if the staff & management stakeholders have buy-in, the ability/desire of the congregation to adopt ChMS will ultimately prove its effectiveness. Exercise: every place you see the word “staff” mentioned in the above paragraph, replace & insert the word “congregation.”
Nick Nicholaou published a one page article in 2010 called “Getting The Most Out Of Your Church Management Software.” (becuase of the way PDF is published, it will take you a couple of clicks to get to the article) This article is very high level, but it identifies well the pain points many churches experience that lead to dissatisfaction. It identifies:
- Several high level reasons why churches are dissatisfied with their ChMS decision
- What ChMS providers need to do to serve churches better
- What churches need to do to improve adoption.
Churches need to know upfront that there can be pretty rampant dissatisfaction with ChMS. An article like this one from Nick can help to set the tone with an individual church that the ChMS decision has far reaching implications. It helps to underscore the complexity and scope of bringing a ChMS onboard.
Steve Caton and Ben Stroup (with input from others) put together an eBook , “Getting Disciple Making Right: 7 Ways Technology Helps Churches Win At Making Disciples.” Full disclosure, Steve works for one of the major ChMS Vendors, Church Community Builder. You'll see that mentioned on the cover and in the credits, but this book is not a CCB sales pitch. This books is helpful in making the basic case for ChMS technology in churches – especially in churches where tech is regarded with disdain. It makes the case for data, measurement and process as the cornerstones for an effective and accountable disciple making effort in the local church.
For additional reading, that does include going deeper into technology and feature questions, Joel Lingenfelter documented the full process his team went through in their selection. I would suggest reading his material after the vision/mission and your particular staff's and congregation's needs.
To be continued ...
Thanks to Jerry Fultz, Joel Lingenfelter, and Nick Nicholaou who provided most of the material for this post.
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