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Don’t Blame It on the Software! (pt. 2)

pwhite March 29, 2011

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Any software application worth using is the product of a long and detailed process that includes development decisions, programming and testing. All software, from the design concept to the finished product, is designed to accomplish specific goals by performing specific functions.

In other words, software should be used, within a reasonable degree of tolerance, in the manner that it was intended to be used. Understanding what you are trying to accomplish, what issues you are trying to solve, or  processes that you want to automate is essential before you begin evaluating any software solution.

Users should resist the temptation to drastically modify, customize, or entirely abandon the design of the software in order to meet their needs. Certain functions of the software applications are designed to perform certain tasks.

For example, a general ledger module is not really the proper place to issue payroll checks, if the intent is to manage withholding taxes and to issue W-2 forms. An application designed for payroll would be a better choice.  Accounts receivable is likely not the best tool to manage contributions or vice versa.

It may work, but the risks of errors of omission and commission are great. When errors do occur, the “cure is often worse than the disease.” There are few things more frustrating than to attempt correction of errors created when software is used in a manner that it was not designed to be used.

Leading Church Management Software providers are constantly improving their products to specifically meet the needs of Churches and non-profits. Revisions are often required to meet the technical requirements of new operating systems, new tax laws or to improve the applications functionality.

The nature of programming all but prohibits perfection in such a complex and ever changing environment so corrections will inevitably always be a part of the revision process. The best part about revisions is that a competent process of review and evaluation will constantly produce new and improved ways of doing things. Feedback from clients is a fertile source of new functions, techniques and procedures.

If you are satisfied with the performance and efficiency of your current software you may not feel it is necessary to update your software. But it must also be understood that the end product of that system is not going to change. In other words, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting. If that’s sufficient, then you are fortunate.

At some point in time, however, it will likely become evident that the demands for information have outstripped your capacity, because you’re so far behind the mainstream of available technology. Remember that the demand may not be entirely in the minds of the user, but can be driven by the members that they serve. The only solution, at that point, is a costly, and sometimes traumatic, leap through the time tunnel. In the end, gradual change and progress is the best path.

Is your church operating to it’s level of potential when it comes to database information technology? Perhaps it is time for an analysis of your hardware/software/technology resources. Are you equipped to meet the ever-changing technology demands of the 21st century church? Or are you operating at less than full capacity, and using yesterday’s tools to meet today’s challenges?

Maybe now is a good time to consider a new partner-one that can address these and other concerns and move you and your church into the 21st century with ease.

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