By Matt Crane
The process of evaluating a new software solution can be frustrating.
Over the years, I have spent countless hours evaluating (and pitching) new software solutions. Because I am a total tech geek, I actually enjoy the process!
One of the challenges I have run into when selecting a software provider is the distraction of the new and shiny features, keeping me from selecting a solution that is the best fit for the organization.
I have learned from my mistakes over the years, and I now have 7 questions I always ask when evaluating any software provider in order to select the best solution possible.
#1: Is it an improvement over your current systems? And, will it save your staff time?
This might sound extremely intuitive, but software should provide efficiencies you couldn’t achieve without it. Good software should free up staff to do other things — not require additional staff.
#2: Will it engage members where they are?
This might not be a popular statement, but your members don’t need another app to download or a new social media platform. They already have plenty!
Engage them where they already spend their time. Select software that integrates with your current social media profiles and website.
If you meet people where they are, they are more likely to engage.
#3: Will it integrate with other systems?
Disparate systems create more work for your staff and frustration for your members. Integration is paramount.
#4: What’s the cost savings? (Not price)
Don’t trip over dollars to save pennies. The price of software is not the cost of the software. If the software provides automation and frees you to focus on other parts of the ministry, it might be worth the service fees charged.
#5: Can the vendor provide metrics for impact?
Make sure the vendor can provide real statistics for how the cost of their software justifies the expense. Again, get beyond the bright and shiny features and dig into the additional value metrics the software provides for your ministry.
#6: Is your data secure?
In the age of SAAS (Software as a Service) — when you are trusting your data to a software vendor — the importance of security and confidentiality is essential. Always ask what processes are in place and what infrastructure is utilized to keep your data secure.
#7: How hard is it to get your data out of the system? (In case things don’t work out)
Regardless of the system, it should always be clear that the data belongs to the church. The vendor should have processes in place to easily provide your data to you, outside of their system. Find out how the vendor will provide your data and how long it will take to receive. Also read your contracts, don’t sign anything that doesn’t let you out whenever you want.
Not everyone enjoys the process of software selection like I do, but if you use these seven criteria; hopefully it will help with the decision process, and maybe even free some of your time to further your ministry.
Matt Crane has spent the last 13 years working on technology initiatives for the church and is currently the Relationship Manager for Vision2 Systems, a leading provider of giving software for the church. You can find more about Vision2 at Vision2systems.com.