When it comes to deciding on a church management solution, your first decision is
Web-based or Installed?
In a web-based solution, the application is running in on internet web servers located in a datacenter somewhere. All of your church data will be stored on those servers as well.
In an installed solution, the application and data is installed on your own computers in your church.
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to both, so you’ll need to consider both sides, and decide which approach fits your church the best. We also discuss a unique hybrid option, so make sure you read to the end to see how that works!
The main differences between web & installed come down to –
- Where and how you can access it
- Control and security of the data
- Overall cost
Where and how you can access your church information
With a web-based solution, since the application and data are stored on internet servers, you will be able to access your information from anywhere you have an internet connection. This is great if you need access to your information away from the church. If some of the church staff often works from home or the coffee shop, then this may be the way to go. Web-based also means you can access the application with almost any kind of device – computer, laptop, or tablet.
Since the web was initially designed for displaying documents, and not really designed to for constant interaction, you will find that web-based applications often seem sluggish, and you spend a lot of time waiting on pages to load. In many situations, this isn’t a big deal, but when it comes to things like data entry, posting contributions, running multiple reports, etc… this can be frustrating – especially in an application like church management, where you tend to work in it all day.
With an installed solution, since the application and data are stored on your computers, you would need to be at the church to access the information. There are ways to set up a remote access solution like remote desktop or other screen sharing solutions, but you typically need to set that up yourself.
Installed solutions are running right there on your computer in front of you, so these applications are usually very responsive, and screens can load instantaneously. Installed applications are superior at rapid data entry, quickly looking up data, running reports, and overall user satisfaction.
Control and security of the data
Churches have a lot of information they have to keep track of, especially personal information. Where they store this information is very important. The top concerns here are “Will I always be able to access my data?” and “How secure is the data?”
Web-based solutions store your data on internet servers. This means someone else is responsible for your data. The great thing is that you really don’t’ have to think about it. You don’t have to worry about backups, and updating your servers, etc… Someone else takes care of all of that.
The down-side is – the data is stored on the web, so now there are several possible points of failure between you and your data. First, is your internet connection. If you lose internet from time to time, you will not be able to get to your data during those outages. This may be caused by WiFi problems, network problems, or internet outages. Second, is the company providing the solution. They may experience problems with the application or any of their own internet services.
Data on the web provides the benefit of being accessible anywhere, but also the risk of being accessible anywhere. In probably 99% of the cases, your data is safe and everything will be fine. But there definitely have been cases of high profile companies being hacked and data being stolen. Those events have really pushed for advancements in higher security standards, which will continue to get stronger and stronger making your data even more secure.
Installed solutions store your data locally on your computer or server. This means you are responsible for the security and backups. The data would be safer from internet hackers, but now you have to consider physical theft of the computer or server. The thing is, you are in control – you can determine the level of security you need for your church.
Since you are in control of your data, and it’s stored locally, you will always have access to it. Internet outages, WiFi problems won’t keep you from your data because it’s right there on site. You can copy it, manipulate it however you want, and even analyze it with other tools.
Here’s the other big difference between Web and Installed software. Because web-based solutions are hosted and running on somebody else’s servers, you will need to pay them every month for that service. Some people prefer the smaller, consistent monthly payment, but some people look at that total over a few years, and realize how much more they’re spending. And if you stop paying, you lose access to the solution.
Installed solutions will have a one-time purchase price, no monthly fees, and then you own the software forever. Typically this cost will be much less than a year or two of monthly payments of web-based, and as time goes on, the gap continually widens. Yes there can be optional support plans with an installed solution, but you can purchase these only when they are needed. Ultimately, again, you are in control.
Compare the advantages and disadvantages of web-based vs. installed:
Hybrid – May Be the Best of Both Worlds
Beside costs, it really boils down to accessibility vs. power and performance. Because power and performance are so important in a church management system, we wanted to take the powerful installed solution and make it as accessible as a web-based solution.
Excellerate Cloud Solution does just that – it takes the powerful, fast, installed application and makes it accessible anywhere over the internet, so you don’t have to be at church to access it. We simply stream the application to your computer, phone, or tablet. On your computer, it feels just like a locally installed application, but it’s running in the cloud.
You are in control of your data – Because we use the same installed application in the cloud, at any time you can actually download all of your data to your local computer or server. You would still be able to access your data even if there was an internet outage! Because the application is running in the cloud, there is a monthly cost, but if you ever decide you don’t want monthly payments, you can download everything locally and continue running with your installed version.
Give Excellerate a try. It’s free, and there’s no time limit!
The hybrid cloud solution is the exact same program as the free installed version, so check it out and you can add the cloud at any time!