I recently had the opportunity to talk with Boyd Pelley, Co-Founder of ChurchTeams. I was impressed with all of the new things they had to offer and thought our readers would like an update as well. Enjoy my interview with Boyd!
Why do you guys not offer an app?
For a software provider, an app is a separate product built specifically for Apple’s or Google’s environment. It links to the original software but often looks and functions differently without all the features. We like simple and adding another product(s) did not appeal to us at all. In 2010 the concept and term “Responsive Web Design” appeared. In 2012 when researching the possibility of a mobile app we decided instead to update the entire user interface of Churchteams to use responsive design such that it worked well on all devices. We redid the front end of our software in late 2012 and released the first ChMS responsive design in early 2013. Just save your login page as a bookmark on the home screen of any device. It is simple, powerful and mobile-ready.
How did you manage to create an event registration without requiring people to login?
We recognized a long time ago that usernames and passwords were major obstacles to churches effectively using software for group, class and event registration. Many ditched their ChMS sign up tools in favor of simple forms like Wufoo or Google Forms. This added the complexity of creating another process or tool to input data into the database, but at least it was easy for the user. In late 2013 we released a merge report that compares records in the database and lists potential duplicates for easy merges. Google and others do this with their contact databases. Just this summer, we put these pieces together. So, our event registration is as simple as a Wufoo form, but when they submit the registration the software goes through a comparison process to match or add people to the database and register them. If there’s a discrepancy, the registrant’s verify themselves based on last 4 numbers of their phone number. If there’s a payment involved it takes them to the payment portal and can require payment before registration. It’s way cool.
What does tablet-based check-in look like and why did you add that?
Barcode scanners have been the tool of choice to speed up children’s check-in for years. Our system uses them as well, but in 2012 some of our clients began asking about using tablets for check-in to help alleviate the lines. We researched third-party apps and Bluetooth printer options but none of these fit our parameters for simple use and design. Last year in dialogue with a church in Austin, we found a solution we love. Just change your check-in station to a printing station with our software and then through the Internet connect 3 to 5 tablets to that one printing station. Any tablet with any browser will work. Imagine welcoming families in the parking lot or at the door, checking them in there and by the time they get to the printing station, their tags are waiting for them. No more lines and far less expensive.
In a few words, what is your story?
We came from ministry and technology backgrounds to start Churchteams in 2000. We bootstrapped our own development (i.e. continued to work our day jobs) and grew as the Lord brought people our way. We pioneered small group software and were known primarily for those features early on. In 2007 we knew churches would want all their data in one place and began expanding our unique perspective of ministry and technology to include more traditional church management features like membership, contributions, online giving, check-in, assimilation, reporting and communication. All of these have been through at least 3 revisions since originally released and they continue to be refined as indicated in the above questions. Our goal is to create simple software for churches that just works and provide world-class service at a reasonable price. We don’t have quota-driven sales staff, outbound calling staff, nor investors needing 20% returns on their original investment. The software is powerful but not so complicated that we need a boatload of support staff. We currently serve over 750 churches across the U.S., Canada and a few other countries.
What do you see as the next trends in ChMS?
The obvious, first big trend is moving away from locally hosted software and servers in favor of going completely to the cloud. There are so many advantages at every level [of] cloud-based service solutions that this is inevitable. But churches as a whole are slow adopters for a lot of reasons and not all of them bad. But, this whole Internet thing? It’s here to stay.
Second. It’s a mobile world. People don’t like clunky and we love our devices. Mashable called 2013 the year of responsive web design. Churches everywhere are moving to mobile responsive websites. It just makes sense that web-based software applications do the same. Beyond that, if ChMS is ever going to serve churches in many countries in our world, it has got to be mobile.
Third. Going global. I know that part of our business plan is to serve the church worldwide. That will mean new platform changes to linguistically responsive software and a whole myriad of other challenges including economic ones. But, as church management systems, our calling must be less about money and more about the Great Commission.
Fourth. Input. We believe that eventually software will be responsible to capture its own information through push-out emails, notifications and alerts. Those who know our small group system understand what we mean. Other technologies built into today’s mobile devices will likely play into this as well. We’re working to expand this concept because the output of the system is only as good as the input.
Fifth. Output. The end game of church management is providing feedback to a church’s vision. We email our clients a monthly small group health report which gives them unbelievable analytics as to the health of their groups. We see a day in the near future where you can schedule software to provide reports and communication. Just show up to the office and the information you need is already in your inbox.
For more information visit http://churchteams.com