Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ChMS - Connection Power

Important! ConnectionPower has been acquired by ActiveNetwork and will be rolled into the ActiveNetwork | Faith product. Read about it here.

And now the other two finalists. You know that these companies made it all the way to the final round, but until now I haven't posted much about them. Here goes:

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. 

ConnectionPower - Church Ministry Software
Church ministry software that integrates contributions with your visitor assimilation and member care ministries.
Target Market: Small - Large
Quick Summary - Worth Consideration

Level 2 Analysis:

How big? - 30
How many customers? - 1000+
How long in business? - I’m guessing 2004.
Are they profitable? - Yes
Technical Details - MySQL + PHP

Volunteer Management - The best.
Web Integration - Completely. 
Attendance - Solid, will meet our needs. 
Assimilation - This is the forte of ConnectionPower. It’s all about calling new people and following up with them.

Level 2 Summary - Some things I like, others not so much. One comment I found online was that at least a couple of years ago they didn’t have a way for couples to have different last names, but that has been fixed now. I think they deserve to be considered further. I'm excited about this solution after hearing from Dominic Silla, VP of sales.

Level 3 Analysis - ConnectionPower has a few oddities, but might be the very best solution out there for HDC. The whole philosophy behind the product seems to be what we are trying to accomplish. Although the overall interface isn't as attractive as the competition, it offers the very best volunteer tracking and management out there. Conclusion: ConnectionPower is an excellent solution that could work for HDC. It has the very best volunteer management and assimilation tools. This is a finalist and could be our solution.

Comments after final round:

ConnectionPower is an interesting product, and a very solid church management software solution. ConnectionPower's primary focus is on assimilation, that is, taking people from an unattached visitor to someone who is fully plugged in to the ministry of your church. This is something we need to do better, which is why ConnectionPower was part of our process to the very end.

CP was the least expensive of the solutions in front of us, and is an amazing value for what it offers. The downside of that is that CP has the least extensive process to get your church up and running with their software. The other companies in this comparison have implementation teams that come on site to assist you in making the decisions necessary to setup and begin using their software. This, of course, costs money. CP is designed to help you through this process without bringing their staff to your site. 

CP did well in our "26 questions" comparison and in the references, but did not fare as well in our guided demo. While their check-in application is very nice, it does not meet the specific needs of HDC in how we check in kids, particularly in our pre-school department. Our preschool does not use class rosters of any kind, but is very flexible in which rooms kids land in. Likewise, our people have a tendency to attend different services each week and are very difficult to pin down. Although Dominic states that CP can handle "no-roster" check in, our kids team did not feel that the check-in would work for HDC's needs.

ConnectionPower handled "inactive" people better than some of the other solutions, requiring you to specifically include inactive people in searches and queries. This makes moving an account to "inactive" far superior to deleting people because you still have access to the information if you need to get it, for example if they are looking for a giving statement years later.

Another feature that Connection Power offered over the competition was that the check-in works even without a stable internet connection. The next time the stations sync with the internet they will upload the data they have collected. Very nice!  I was also quite impressed with the calendar, and the forethought that went in to scheduling an event. Unfortunately when I looked at some of the "real world" sites that use CP, it seemed like people too often left everything blank when scheduling events. Not really CP's fault, but unfortunate. Overall the calendar, event scheduling, registration and followup was really good-another strong point for CP.

ConnectionPower is very good at assigning tasks to people. For tracking visitors and assigning volunteers to help connect them to the church they have an automated process that is _far_ superior to what the competition offers. It matches visitors to volunteers by sex, age, location etc. This matched up perfectly with questions we had during our first round. The assimilation type tasks are where connection power really shines, but for HDC we had some specific needs that CP simply couldn't meet. 

Although in the end Connection Power wasn't the right solution for HDC, it is a great solution that deserves your consideration. 



Anonymous said...

We made the switch to connection power. They were very helpful with the initial process for setup (migration).

I should mention that the reason for our switch was because of the KIOSK system that they have. We already had a simple database in place, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to migrate because of the nice features available.

However I have run into a problem with the KIOSK system. It does not run as expected (with our setup and the thumb reader). I opened a support ticket over 2 months ago. Nothing has been resolved. I was told that I would receive information, I didn’t. The documentation for setup is lacking, there are dead links all over the place, and ultimately the support fails.

I don’t know what they’re doing over there, but they’re definitely not customer centric when it comes to support.

If you don’t have any support issues, then this software may be fine. If you run into some sort of technical issue, then good luck getting it resolved.

renewingmind said...

Thanks for the reply. I can only provide information related to what I saw and heard from salesmen. Post install is one area where my blog is lacking, and I appreciate your comment.

To provide clarity for other readers, is the issue related to the thumb reader or something fundamental about check-in?


Anonymous said...

The issue was directly related to their software. They issued me a "custom" build once they found the problem. However, they have yet to release an updated version for all customers.

Another issue... later I found that the import wasn't as smooth as I thought. All dates return 0 when queried. This has yet to be resolved.

I've had several other issues with the check-in system. Usability leaves a lot to be desired.

They were recently acquired by the company that owns fellowship one. We'll see if that changes anything.