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Roughly 50% of the U.S. population attends church regularly. If you’re in charge of running a place of worship, that staggering number might not surprise you. From managing congregations to staff, on busy Sundays, it might feel like the whole world is attending service!
Keeping organized if you’re running a busy church or one that’s hoping to grow can be a challenge. Fortunately, investing in the best church management software can take the seas that stand between you and your goals and part them.
For the uninitiated, church management software or “church content management systems” (cCMS) are multi-faceted tools that streamline processes necessary to a church’s functioning. Below, we dive into various things you should look at when software shopping for your church so you can make sure the product you invest in truly propels you forward.
Unless your church’s administrative staff is comprised of a group of tech-whizzes, ease of use is going to be a top priority when shopping for the best church management software.
When you’re looking at screenshots of a tool’s interface, do the options you see seem welcoming? When experiencing a product’s trial, can you more or less get to where you need to go?
Content management system creators that take the time to make their products intuitive are the same teams that will provide outstanding product support since they’re invested in customer experience.
Always prioritize those products over confusing ones.
Making Data Valuable
One of the key things you’ll find church management software provides is the ability to organize data. Everything from payroll, to church attendance, can be tracked in market-leading tools which can provide your staff with actionable insight.
That is, of course, if your management software makes your data easy to understand.
We’ve seen some church management software have the ability to track just about everything you’d want to keep an eye on in a church, only to have abysmal reporting functions which make it impossible to pull stories out of your numbers.
Therein lies the value of prioritizing the adoption of software that makes data legible.
At the end of the day, no matter how much you like a particular management tool, if you can’t afford it, it’s not right for your church.
Most church management tools are sold within the software as a service model (SaaS). That means you’ll access your software in the cloud (through a web browser) and pay a monthly fee to maintain access.
Fees vary based on features you opt into and how many users you have attached to your account.
While recurring fees might make your congregation nervous, know that the upside to payment in perpetuity is that you’ll get software updates for free and will likely receive free product support.
It’s hard to know whether or not a church management system is right for you before you’ve learned its basics. The best software providers are glad to provide demos that enable congregation leaders to experience a software’s value first-hand.
Some software demos are guided by a product experience expert. Others are self-guided through free trials like the tool you’ll find at https://www.iconcmo.com/blog/church-management-software/.
However, your prospective management system goes about letting you trial it, always gravitate towards products that aren’t afraid to give you a taste of their efficacy.
Every church has different needs. Perhaps the number one thing you’re looking for in a management system is the ability to do basic bookkeeping. Maybe you need a tool that tracks attendance.
Each of those needs can be described as “use cases” and you’ll want to make sure that every use case that is conceivable to you is addressed in your software. Common use cases we’ve seen church’s ask about include tracking donations, member information, event registrations, payroll, bookkeeping, and website management.
We suggest writing a list of use cases that are important to you and discussing them with product support before subscribing to a software license. It may be that your product support agent can customize your tool to better serve your intended use.
Ease of Implementation
You’ve looked at several tools, earmarked your favorites, trialed them, and are now ready to throw your faith behind one. That’s great news!
Before leaping though, take a moment to ask your product support team what implementation would look like.
Is there onboarding training they conduct for church groups so team members can get brought up to speed? What does buying several licenses for multiple users look like? How long will your product commitment be for upon adoption?
Asking these questions to level-set what the first few weeks will look like transitioning your operations to software can help reduce headaches during the process. How your software outlines implementation can also serve as a final red flag prior to payment if they seem disorganized in their launch approach.
Finding the Best Church Management Software Takes Time and Faith
Churchgoers are no stranger to the concepts of patience and faith. They put their faith in God daily and pray for patience when navigating many of life’s trials.
We recommend exercising those same virtues when shopping for the best church management software.
Take time to dig into your options, short-list what you love, and take a leap of faith when you’re ready to dive in. We’re confident that when you do, you’ll wonder how you ever ran your church without the help of cutting-edge tools!
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