Case Study:Community Center / Church Management Systems By Will Pepper, Ph.D.
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The head (“Head”) of a medium-to-large faith-based institution (“FBI”) in the MidSouth approached representatives of Better Than Free, LLC (“BTF”) for technology advice. The new FBI administration requested assistance in evaluating its current Church Management System (“CMS”) and comparing it to their unknown available options. The current total software expenses for the FBI are $7,900 annually, which includes CMS ($4,500), a facility reservation system (“FRS”) ($3,200), and Sunday program organization ($200). An emailed message that contained information gathered from a FBI Staff Meeting in regards to the FBI software needs was sent to BTF. A document was prepared by BTF for a meeting with Head of the FBI. It stated the purpose and goal of the meeting, reiterated the previously stated “needs”, listed questions to be asked of Head, discussed both FBI and BTF possible benefits from working together, and a disclaimer and limitation of BTF’s liability in results. During the meeting, all of the information above was addressed and permission was given by Head to interview his Core Team, as well as contact others outside of the Core Team (such as software companies) on FBI’s behalf.
After the Core Team was individually emailed asking for meetings, individual meetings were scheduled. A reason for individual meetings was to ask questions in an environment that did not suffer from a “dominant speaker”, or someone that took control of a group atmosphere. Ten individual meetings occurred lasting 20-to-30 minutes each, and each interviewee was given the same document Head was given. Only one additional questionnaire was given to the financial adviser in which financial statement needs were asked. All of these results were organized into a spreadsheet and integrated into a presentation for the Core Team.
A presentation occurred with the Core Team in which the purpose of the software evaluation, results from the interviews, an explanation of an upcoming team building exercise, and a team building exercise occurred. One of the results included 65% additional needs being discovered through the interview process on top of the emailed list. Other results included over 20% more Dislikes-than-Likes of the current CMS, and this number drastically increased when the top Like (“The App”) was removed to over 80% more Dislikes-than-Likes. The team building exercise allowed for the needs to be prioritized, as well as discovery of an additional need. After an exit survey was completed and group photo occurred, the meeting ended.
The results of the team building exercise were organized in a spreadsheet and were used to drill down the CMS choices available on the Internet from over 40 to four choices. Additional non-church software were selected, evaluated, and reviewed in order to include variety into the software selection. Listed contacts for the four CMS companies were contacted with additional questions. The responses (or lack-of-responses) eliminated two choices. The non-church software review resulted in one option.
A similar process was used to evaluate over one hundred FRS and narrow the possible selections down to two choices. The Sunday program organization software was not reviewed because it is the only piece of software all Core Team members find perfectly fits their needs. However, both FRS and the Sunday program organization software were considered in CMS evaluation.
A final presentation / report was compiled that recapped the software evaluation process, detailed existing software, presented Pros-and-Cons for possible systems, provided estimates, listed contact information for software representatives, and ended with a disclaimer for BTF’s services. The best possible choices that met/exceed FBI’s needs were presented to Head of the organization. These choices meet/exceed the current needs where the current CMS and FRS software fails. Additionally, depending the final choice of FBI, annual savings from using potential software range close to 60% ($4,900), rounded. By only following the recommendations for a change in facility reservation system, this FBI saves 85% annually as compared to their previous system.
Additions to the Church Management Systems Case Study
The Exit Survey asked the Core Team about their opinions on their software system during the interview process, as well as their same opinions after the interview and team building exercise. Other questions included the level to which their opinions were heard and the overall quality of the instructor. On a scale from 1-to-5, with 1 being “Strongly Disagree” or on a negative slope, and 5 being “Strongly Agree” or on a positive slope.
Before the interview process, the Core Team were not happy (2.11), were not content (2.25) and were actually upset with the current system (3.88). They felt their concerns were strongly heard (4.50) during the exercises, and that the instructor was very organized, knowledgeable, and prepared (4.89). After the interviews and presentations, they were not upset with potential software changes (1.29), and were very happy (4.50) and content (4.56) with possible change. Before the process, they were not concerned about alternatives to the current system (1.78), but now they are optimistic about the alternatives (4.38).