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Managing a Spiritualist Center

Why You Should Use a Church Content Management System
By:Brett Payne

A content management system as defined by Wikipedia is a "Collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment." Even the youngest of churches can appreciate the need for a set of systems and procedures to help them towards growth as a community. Even though these goals are understood on one level in the day to day operations of a local church, these same principles may be over looked when it comes time to centralize and optimize the resources internally. The end result is often a set of tools that are isolated, disconnected from one another, and ultimately not useful. And it is here that the need for a content management system lies.

The referenced Wikipedia article continues to state that the CMS procedures are designed to do the following:

-Allow for a large number of people to contribute to and share stored data
-Control access to data, based on user roles - defining which information users or user groups can view, edit, publish, etc.
-Aid in easy storage and retrieval of data
-Reduce repetitive duplicate input
-Improve the ease of report writing
-Improve communication between users

A Silo Effect

A Silo Effect simply means that an organization chooses specific resources to perform specific tasks. It is the expression of autonomy at its best, but often leads to efficiency at its worst. Examples:

-Multiple instances of a member record in multiple places: personal email accounts, phone lists, mass email accounts, giving records, etc, but no way to verify which one is correct nor a single way to update all of them.
-Scheduled events that have no way to evaluate room conflicts, personnel conflicts or double booking with other events.
-Payments for contributions, events, tickets or other sales that cannot be reconciled in a single report.
-An easy way to backup valuable organizational data in an automated fashion.
-Multiple points of communication being shared (via email, the web, letters, SMS, etc) with no system to audit who is doing what or when.
-Confusion with members on meeting cancellations because the phone message does not match the email message, which does not match what Brother Jim said, which does not match what is on the website.

THE CENTRALIZED EFFECT

The use of a content management system will remedy the ineffficiency of a silo effect. The centrailized effect allows people to contribute to their areas of responsibility while maintaining the sense of control many find in the silo effect. Yet, your church can control the content and data, gain instant access to centralized records, save time and money by limiting duplicate work to update records, get great reporting and achieve improved communication.

Selecting a Church Content Management System

Consider these factors when choosing a CMS for your church: open source or proprietary software, installed or web based software. In light of security and privacy issues, the discussion on open source versus proprietary software should be clear. Open Source works fine for people, hobbies and data that won't hurt your organization if the software crashes or is hacked into. But it is never good for businesses or organizations that are being trusted for security and privacy. Churches would fall in that category, so lets take open source off the table. The remaining factors are whether to use installed software or web-based.

-Installed software is software that must be installed on a local machine on your property. Typically that would be on a server, but actually can be on any machine that is available for other local machines to connect through via the Local Area Network (LAN). The advantage is that this makes data retrieval very, very fast. The downside is that the access to the data can only happen if you are 1) on that property and 2) on an authorized machine. If you get home and forget that list of small group members you were supposed to email, you're just out of luck.

-Web based software is not installed on a local machine, but instead on offsite servers that you have access to. Data retrieval is dependent upon internet speeds, though as those speeds increase significantly each year, the issues of data speed becomes less relevant. Pricing for this is truly seen as a service, or subscription. Think of it as "renting" the software, though the data is yours and cannot be compromised by the vendor. The critical benefit, of course, is accessibility of the data. Most often the CMS will integrate directly with your website to provide not only you and your staff, but also your members and visitors, access to the most up to date and relevant information available on your church.

To learn more about how you can have dramatic success with Church Management Systems, it's important to learn everything you possibly can about the applications before you begin. Visit the following link and you'll be taken to ChurchInsight http://church.endis.com for details on full solutions from industry expert, Brett Payne.