Monday, August 18, 2008

ChMS - Ascribe

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.

If you've been with me for a while in this journey you know that we started with a list of 147 companies which was narrowed to 46, then 22 and finally six, which eventually became eight. Two companies (Arena and Kingdom Tools) contacted me and I gave them each a second look. After evaluating all of these solutions, there were five that stood out from the rest, and three that made the final grouping. Ascribe is one of the two products that did not make the last grouping, but it is a very solid solution.

Ascribe Data Systems - Ascribe
A powerful and easy-to-use online software to help churches as they disciple, equip, steward, preach and more.
Target Market: Small - Large
Quick Summary - Young Product

Level 2 Analysis:

How big? - Small Company
How many customers? - As of August 2006, around 20. A bit more now.
How long in business? - Software started 2001, customers seem to date from 2004 or so.
Are they profitable? - Yes
Technical Details - PHP, Javascript, Ajax, MySQL

Volunteer Management - Good.
Web Integration - Good.
Attendance - It’s simple to take attendance, but it shows attendance as a log, which is harder to digest at a glance than what we use now.
Assimilation - Ascribe’s assimilation and visitor followup would fit nicely with the process we are developing, and some of the things it does are better than some of my finalists.

Level 2 Summary - Ascribe is a small software company that appears to have a pretty good product. There are two large churches using the product, as best as I can tell. It’s web based and seems reasonably flexible. The website seems to be dated late 2005 or early 2006.

Level 3 Analysis - Ascribe is an amazing product. The website does not do it justice, and actually represents an old version of the product. The interface is very attractive and it is well thought through. There are some confusing elements, but once you get used to its way of thinking it’s not hard to move around in ascribe very quickly. Ascribe has a good volunteer management and visitor assimilation featureset, and it could work for us very nicely.

There are problems with ascribe though. Reporting is limited and not flexible enough for us. My director of office administration felt that the interface required a lot of mouse activity. There is no check scanning or automated check-in available at this time, which might not be a big deal for you but it was for us. Those quibbles aside, Ascribe is a very good solution, and I believe that anyone undertaking this comparison should include it for consideration.

Although it was not the right solution for us, I believe that Ascribe has a bright future. This is a good product that feels polished and powerful.


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