We have completed the first stage of our evaluation of the companies and products on our ChMS short list using the high-level criteria I posted a couple of days ago. Based on that evaluation, we have narrowed our choices to Fellowship One and Shelby Arena. Fellowship Technologies will be here Wednesday and Shelby Systems will be here Thursday to demo their products to our Evaluation Team.
Blackbaud took themselves out by not responding to our requests for information in a timely way. We’re on a tight schedule and they simply didn’t respond fast enough for us to evaluate them.
My visit to ACS was spectacular. They are a great company top to bottom, but their products aren’t able to meet our needs right now. Based on a brief conversation with them, I’m pretty sure they would agree with that. If you’re looking for a ChMS, you should definitely check them out. You won’t find a more capable yet humble and gracious company. I’m grateful to have met Hal, Ben, Pattie, and others at ACS and to be able to call them friends, not to mention uber RoundTable buddy, Dean (you rock!).
I love Microsoft CRM as a platform. As with all Microsoft products, there’s always a new version (4.0 in this case) just around the corner which always promises to be even better than what they have now. In all seriousness, it does appear that this is going to become a better and better option for churches in the coming years. The question for us is: what kind of solution can we actually buy and implement now?
The MSCRM platform has two competing church-specific solutions: Proclaim CRM from Ministry Management Solutions and ProVision CRM from The ACTS Group. We didn’t have time to look closely at both products, so we started with ProVision. After a refreshingly candid conversation about our requirements and our time line, The ACTS Group withdrew from consideration. Some of the functionality we need is still in development, so they can’t yet demonstrate a complete working solution for us. A year from now it would be a completely different situation, but we need to make our decision now based on functionality they can actually deliver now. Keep an eye on this because with Tony involved, you know it’s going to be good.
As I said, we haven’t taken a close look at Proclaim mainly because there are only so many hours in the day and you have to draw the line somewhere. If perchance we don’t fall in love with Arena or Fellowship One, Bill Walker is just a phone call away.
And then there were two.