If you haven't already, you MUST read the summary of what we are looking for. This is critical to understand my comments. The vendors being reviewed work hard to provide a good product to serve the church, and they should be commended for that. Our needs are very specific, and just because a product isn't right for us does not mean that it isn't perfect for your church. By the same token, just because we didn't like a product does not mean it doesn't meet needs or provide genuine value to its clients. The blurb and "target market" are taken from the capterra list I referenced in my first post. Finally, my thoughts are my own and not an official position of my employer. Thank you.
Based on the information they had online I had a very incorrect view of what Arena had to offer. In my initial pass I ruled Arena out based on this information. After some discussion with the folks from Arena, I gave them a shot at a full demo and I'm glad I did. You can read my impressions here. I am leaving this post in since I had already made it, but they are now part of the finalist group.
Shelby Systems - Arena
Ministry software that also authors your website; accommodates multiple websites and even sub-domains.
Target Market: Mid - Large
Quick Summary - Interesting but probably not us.
Level 2 Analysis:
How big? - Shelby is the second largest (I think) behind ACS
How many customers? - 8000 or so for Shelby, not so many for Arena
How long in business? - Long, long time
Are they profitable? - Yes
Technical Details - MS SQL 2005 & .NET
Volunteer Management - Excellent, with room for improvement.
Web Integration - Arena integrates very well, providing member access and updates where appropriate.
Attendance - Both through checkin and manual processes that are fairly streamlined. More research needed.
Assimilation - Excellent, with room for improvement.
Level 2 Summary - Arena is a very complete product that deserves consideration from any church that is able to put the time and resources into a solid solution. There are concerns though. Even though it is a web product, Shelby as a company is very windows centric. Also, the forum has a total of 268 registered users (and no posts to speak of), the blogs are very dead, and the community appears to be a non-starter. Hopefully I'm wrong on that count, we'll see as I move forward.