I had the privilege of spending the day Friday with Alfred Johnson, Steve Pruitt, and their teams at Shelby Systems. Frank Canady also joined us for lunch. We had deep discussions about the Church Management System (ChMS) market, and specifically the soon-to-be-released Arena ChMS.
I first met Alfred at the IT Roundtable. He arranged the day and introduced me to the senior management team of Shelby. Alfred, you are a gentleman and a great host. The warmth of your hospitality made my time there special.
Shelby has been around a long time and has been a leader in the ChMS market for many years. During my time there, I gained a lot of insight into Shelby’s history, how they see the marketplace, and their product plans going forward. Some of those things I was asked to keep to myself, but many of them are open and I will be commenting on them in the coming days.
We had a frank discussion about our concerns as a Shelby customer, and everyone was gracious enough to really listen and take my concerns seriously. At the same time, I was surprised to learn that my impressions of Shelby’s customer base and target market were incorrect in several respects. Like the Fellowship Tech team before them, they also indulged me an extensive discussion of strategic considerations without insisting on jumping right to a product demo. There will be plenty of time for that.
The Shelby senior management team is seasoned and humble. They have a good understanding of what the marketplace is asking of them. Regardless of whether we become an Arena customer, I’m glad to say I have new friends in Memphis who care about the local church as much as I do.
I will continue to post about my trip and my impressions as we make budget plans for 2007 over the next few weeks.