You have started down the road toward a new software purchase for your organization. But somehow you have stalled in the process, and you’re unsure of where to go next.
If you are responsible for choosing software for your church, no doubt you’ve felt overwhelmed at some point. A software purchase can be particularly daunting because of the sheer number of options available. Plus there’s that biggest roadblock of all: fear of the unknown.
But you started on this software-buying excursion for a reason. You discovered limitations in your current solutions, or you saw possibilities in new areas. So you want to get moving again toward a good decision.
The key to moving forward with selecting church management software is good information.
Usually when we hesitate in making a decision, it’s because we lack confidence. Why? We have doubts about the outcome.
But the more information you gather about your options, the more confident you’ll be in the wisdom of your decision. (Watch out for information overload, however. It can be paralyzing. Once you have enough information to make a good—not perfect—decision, make your choice.)
Regardless of the reasons the process is idling right now, useful information will move the process along.
Get back in gear by answering these questions:
What’s the job?
That is, what tasks are you looking for help with? Software is a tool. Knowing what needs improving is the first step toward choosing the right software tool for the job. And be sure to check with co-workers to see whether this one purchase might meet other software needs in your church. You may not find a magic bullet, but there are solutions that might help you solve a number of problems. This will help you avoid add-on solutions later that may not “talk” to one another.
What is my budget?
Answering this question helps quite a bit by quickly eliminating products from consideration, either because they’re unaffordable or because you can afford better. Related questions:
- Will there be added costs if I buy ABC software? These might include hardware upgrades that are needed to run the new software.
- What will software upgrades cost?
- What will tech support cost?
How do I find out what’s available?
- Ask colleagues who have traveled this path
- Check trade publications, especially those that focus on software solutions for your industry
- Research online
- Ask for a trial of the software. If a company is willing to share a “sandbox,” take advantage and try it for yourself.
What features are most important to me?
- Quick learning curve or helpful tutorials?
- Features and options that not only meet our current needs, but also allow for future progress?
- Time saving?
- Consistent availability?
- Reliable customer support?
What are my three best options?
- Narrow your choices to a small number so you can realistically compare them.
- Make a list of features that are important to you
- Consult references if available
- Get all key staff and volunteers to try it so that you don’t have to “sell it” on your word.
Will the benefits outweigh the costs?
You’ll recognize this as the trusty cost-benefit analysis that businesses have always relied on. Weighing the benefits against the costs is one of the most effective ways to get a clear picture of what your real options are.
We’re almost there
Answering the important questions is not part of the process, it is the process. It’s what gets you to your destination—in this case, a software decision.
Now, it’s possible that in the end you’ll find that your situation really does not require new software. Or perhaps your church simply isn’t ready for the reality of onboarding a new piece of software. You may have inadequate funds or a reluctant staff. In any case, you’ll have made a well-informed choice by answering the questions.
But with the vast array of software options available, it’s more likely that you’ll end up with a reliable and affordable software solution that will make you glad you took the journey.