Thursday, August 7, 2008

ChMS - Arena - I totally missed the boat

So if you've been following along, I've been hard at work trying to discern the best church management system for our church. I started with a huge list of companies, and narrowed it down several times to this point.

Several of the vendors who did not make the cut to round three have contacted me, but one really stood out to me. When I reviewed the information available online about Arena, it seemed to me to be a web integration module for the old shelby church management package. I was puzzled by that because my impression going into this comparison was that it was much more. Chris Rivers of Arena contacted me with a friendly little sales pitch for Arena, and included this statement "4. Arena is a complete ChMS solution including Contributions, Online Giving and Online Registrations."

Since that was widely different than what I had written, I took them up on their offer of a demo to clear the matter up...

In short, Arena is a very full featured solution and an incredible product. Although I have been very reluctant to move anyone else into my "top six" it would be foolish not to after looking over the product today. After spending time with Mark White and looking over the product in pretty good detail, I can say without qualification that Arena deserves consideration by any larger church looking for a ChMS solution.

Was it perfect? No. The demo process started off very bumpy when the solution they are using from go2meeting required windows, which I do not use. We were able to resolve that by setting up a different type of meeting that works on macs, but it took a little while. During the demo, we discovered that Mark had installed some new modules that did not work properly and we will have to go back at a later time to revisit some of the functionality. I'm very concerned about the windows-centric nature of Shelby as a company, and today didn't resolve those concerns, but that's why my research isn't over :-)

Still, I was very impressed by what they have to offer and will be giving them a complete level 3 analysis.


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