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Accessibility of Your CMS
By: Emilie McDuffie

You, like many people today, have probably looked at the latest craze in church software with a bit of confusion. Like most people, you have heard bits and pieces about this topic, and you are convinced of one thing. You need to learn more. Let’s chat. You guys want to know more about church software in the cloud. This simply means software that is accessible from anywhere and anytime as long as there is an Internet connection.

A number of churches have already moved or are looking to implement software that is accessible from any place, anytime, with an Internet connection. Many of our churches function with the help of volunteers. These volunteers often work 40-hour jobs outside of the church.

These volunteers are vital, but is having them come up to the church campus every time they need to access information an efficient process? If they do come to campus, how long will they have to wait for the help they need to gain access to the tools or data they need? Wouldn’t it be perfect if they could access the information they needed from anywhere?

Church software programs these days allow you to set permissions so volunteers can securely access information, run reports that are relevant to their roles and communicate with their peers. You can allow the finance team to see data without having to add one more destination to their schedule. Access to data can set volunteers up for success, and their time can efficiently be used to serve your church’s needs.

Think about how this accessibility will positively affect staff members. Staff can easily work from home when needed. Weather alerts and inclement conditions need not risk their safety by traveling to the office. If someone is sick and at home, they can reassign urgent tasks to others so projects are not delayed or they can simply work from home themselves. And, when they are a bit further from home, let’s say on a mission trip, data is still available.

Access what you need when you need it. The situation can look many different ways, but having a web-based church management software package is what allows for easy accessibility for your staff, volunteers, and church members.

Let’s take a look at how access from anywhere can improve Check In for attendance. We have visited many church campuses and seen many different layouts that are engineered to handle different types of traffic inside and outside the building. People park at different entrances and, therefore, not everyone comes in through the main entrance. Today’s church software can keep track of attendance by Internet-connected devices. So members can check into classes, seminars, or worship services by simply using touchscreens and tablets.

When it comes to the security of our children, the right software can construct a secure nursery environment. Attendants can be signed into their classes by a staff or volunteer by way of tablets, smartphones, or even a netbook with an Internet connection. Security name labels can be printed at check in to ensure a safe check-out process at pickup.

We often get asked, in regards to church software, if there are any programs we would recommend to work alongside the church software. We have seen a lot of good programs over the years…some programs that remain, as well as many that have faded out. The recommendation we give when approached with this question is it to invest in software specifically built for churches and how they function.

Instead of having a different programs for every need, have one program that does most functions. As a side note, I say invest in a way of devoting time and getting all departments of your church leadership team to work together to the same goal of all using one software package, if at all possible.

For example, a large church in a metropolitan area asked us to help them find a replacement for their current software. They mentioned that their youth department used a program for keeping up with membership information, their finance team used yet another program for tracking donations, while their nursery and missions pastor used even more programs for check-in and travel needs.

Churches in this particular situation would be better off getting a single software that does all this in one database. Invest in a program that allows security restrictions to be set in order to control who is allowed access to particular information. Find software that allows pertinent member information to be tracked and viewed in a simple manner. Pursue software with a robust volunteer module that allows you to track and assign volunteers to the areas where they are eager to serve. Look for software that offers financials that line up with the generally accredited accounting principles (GAAP) and that also allows online giving. Search for software that allows mission trip packing lists and trip prayer requests to be kept on the same database as online event registration and event payment.

Church management software with these capabilities do exist today. If you do a little research, it is very possible to find a multi-functional software that houses all of these capabilities in one database. And one last thing, just in case I haven’t pushed this point enough, choose the program that allows access from anywhere…you won’t regret it!

Emilie McDuffie is the marketing coordinator at Shelby Systems, www.shelbysystems.com.

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