With the advancement of technology and the abundance of cloud services, there has been an increasing divide between web-based and installed software. When it comes to looking for a Church Management solution you will often come across both of these options. People will always have a difference of opinion, so options are good, but what service will fit your needs? In the battle of web-based vs. installed software, there are pros and cons to both. Three of the biggest issues concerning a decision are mostly centered on data control, price, and accessibility.
Churches have a lot of information they have to keep track of, especially personal information. Where they store this information is very important, and some don’t like the idea of another company or service storing their data for them. This tends to lead people toward installed software as opposed to a web-based application. Not only is someone else responsible for the information, but their control of it also adds the inconvenience of occasional server maintenance. If the company holding your information is ever having server issues, you may lose connection to your churches information. It may only be for a brief moment at a time, and lost data is rarely an issue at all, but if you don’t like the idea of not having access to your data when you want it, web-based may not be what you’re looking for. Installed software allows you to store all of your information on-site. You choose where to put it, and who has permission to see it. Since you don’t need an internet connection with installed software you’ll never have to worry about losing connection to the database.
Another major difference between web-based and installed software is price. The vast majority, if not all web-based applications will charge you a monthly or annual fee to use their program. This is due to the fact that they provide the security and housing for your data. Fees can range from under a hundred to over thousands of dollars per month on top of paying a setup fee. This may be one of the biggest benefits of using installed software. Most installed softwares will have a one-time cost, and you’ll never have to pay a monthly or annual fee to use the service. Support or maintenance plans may be available at an added cost, but these costs are often optional and can be used on an as needed basis. When you start to compare the costs after 2-3 years, the gap widens even more. For the churches that are looking to keep the annual fees down, the Installed Software would definitely be a more favorable decision.
One more point of discussion would be accessibility. Whether it’s cross-platform or web-based, people want options on where they can get to their software. Web-based applications come with an easier setup since there’s no software to install, while Installed Software systems would need to be installed on every computer running the program. Because of this, people may consider web-based to the most accessible choice. Since it’s an online service, there’s no need to worry about the operating system your computer is running. Mac or PC would both work the same no matter if you’re at the office or at home. However, Installed Software still has the same options. With the use of remote or virtual machine applications, you can now run a Windows operating system on a Mac, or even remote into a computer from another location away from where the data is stored. The benefit of this is that you are still able to have all the accessibility of a web-based application, at an affordable price.
There are pros and cons to both systems. If you’re looking at affordability you might be more inclined to look at Installed Software, while those looking for a greater ease of accessibility, the Web-based applications may be more suited to your needs. There are plenty of both systems, just take the time to do your research and try a demo of the programs if you can find them.