Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Software as a Service serving First Baptist Church of Frederick Maryland

The WikiPedia describes Software as a Service (SaaS) as:

“a model of software delivery where a company adopts specific activities that provide customers access to software alleviating that customer from the maintenance and daily technical operation and support of business and/or consumer software.”

In plain English, it means software providers offer web-native solutions instead of insisting that clients keep on staff, or pay as a consultant, some PC geek to walk around with a floppy and install upgrades every time the application is upgraded, maintain a Novell network to keep the herd-o-cats happy and run around like a headless chicken when a user’s hard disk crashes.

Instead, so long as a client has access to the Internet with a relatively up-to-date browser, they’re set. For those into blogging, the two best examples I can think of are TypePad and Blogger … the antithesis being FrontPage and/or DreamWeaver.

There are many companies in the U.S. providing many jobs both foreign and abroad taking on niche markets based upon the SaaS model – including churches. Some that come to mind are:

I know of one church, First Baptist Church of Frederick Maryland (FBCFMd), that employs such a service – leveraging the technology help achieve the not-so-easy paradigm shift from a pastor-driven model to a lay-driven model church where tasks can be performed off-site from any browser at any time by any authorized church user.

And while First “Fredneck’s” website generated by the Church Community Builder (CCB) content management system (CMS) features could use some healing with regards to valid HTML and layout, it is still a big, effective step-up when one considers the crufty, unmanageable, inaccessible and irrelevant Flash-Driven site previously offered by FBCFMd a couple of years ago. Especially as the CCB CMS directly incorporates selected data managed by authorized church members.

Moreover, I learned from a very pleasant phone conversation with their pastor that First Frederick’s selected SaaS helps keep this highly mobile, suburbanly sprawled congregation together by facilitating both paid and lay staff in terms of communications, sharing materials and schedule management. In other words, the problems solved by FBCF’s use of the CCM go well past that of simple website content ‘manglement.’

And while I’m a big proponent of using blogs in a similar fashion, for those not blessed with an individual and/or server situation to setup and run with something like MovableType and WordPress, I’d say Software as a Service is an option worth exploring – provided you understand the need for a needs analysis be performed before calling a single vendor.

One Comment

  1. I signed up with CCB largely due to the favorable regard it recieved here. We used it for one year, but decided to go another way. My take on CCB is they are focused on the membership and database side, and the Web site side gets less attention. That was a poor fit for us, because we wanted to start with a good web site tool and then grow into other features. Also, their “upgrades” were not optional and dragged us down some paths we didn’t want to go, like fixed-width templates, RSS in my menu, and so on. The final straw was an upgrade where they decided to simplify the article publishing model by eliminating the “draft” category from the publishing scheme. They didn’t notify us of this beforehand. So after the upgrade, all my draft (incomplete, test, private) articles were published!

    We’re now using Joomla as our site CMS. It was quite a learning curve for me, but now I have all the control I sought with CCB and never found, plus a great deal of power from the robust third-party extensions community.

    I don’t have everything in place as I want just yet, but I have many more options now.

    Granted, I’m probably not typical. I have a technical background, and am familiar with programming. I spent the last few days hacking the open source code on my site to tweak it just the way I want.

    Of course, it the site goes down, I’m on my own. No support team under contract to get it back up and running…

    SAAS is appealing. It lifts a great burden from folks like me trying to bridge a gap between the technology and the (often nontechnical) users. I think the greatest barrier to wider acceptance is the up-front costs. Most SAAS providers charge a moderate fee to import data and to set up templates. I find the monthly fees among privides to be comprable. I don’t get why companies don’t offer some default templates with no setup cost and let customers grow into more custom solutions.