Hidden Financial Drains to Avoid: Outdated Technology
We’ve all seen the news stories of people lined up outside an Apple store waiting for the next iPhone release or immediately downloading the latest operating system software to check out the new features. Some people love being on the cutting edge of technology. They’re interested in latest iPhone, operating system, gaming console, or other new gadget.
I appreciate folks who test out the latest gadgets and tell the rest of us about it online. We learn about the bugs and pros/cons of the new gadget or software without having to experience the frustration or steep learning curve firsthand. I definitely enjoy the new tech features, but bleeding-edge technology isn’t my thing (let’s just say I’m risk averse).
What does this have to do with church and hidden financial drains?
Here’s the connection: The church has had a reputation for lagging behind technologically plus there’s often a reluctance to spend money on technology that supports the back office. Sometimes that’s due to budget constraints; other times it’s an unwillingness to change. Whatever the cause, lagging technologically has the potential to cost your church more money than you’d spend upgrading the technology. While I’m not advocating for a camping trip outside the nearest Apple store, there are times when upgrading is the wise choice.
Here are four areas I recommend you evaluate to determine if you have outdated technology:
Tech Check #1: Church Management Software (ChMS)
There are several great options for keeping important information about your congregation secure and in one place. From contact information to baptism and wedding anniversary dates, to ensuring requests for assistance don’t fall through the cracks, a well-maintained ChMS tool can really help you do ministry.
Not having a ChMS tool can become a financial drain when your team has multiple spreadsheets with conflicting or duplicative data. This situation can also create liabilities due to unsecured financial or personally identifiable information (PII).
Tech Check #2: BYOD or Bring Your Own Device
Does your church provide computers and phones to staff or are they expected to use their personal devices? Allowing staff to use their own electronic devices can raise some unique challenges that can lead to financial costs.
- Data ownership and stewardship: Who does the data on those devices belong to? What data are staff members allowed to store on their personal devices?
- Data retention: Do they understand the risks to themselves and the church if their hard drive crashes and all church-related files are lost? Do they regularly backup their system and if so, where?
These are just a few of the potential issues you should consider before allowing staff to store church data on personal computers.
Tech Check #3: Disaster Recovery
Do you have offsite backup for electronic data in case of a fire, theft, or natural disaster that destroys church computers? The cost of trying to replicate those files (think videos of sermons, graphics, podcast files, and more) is hard to estimate. I don’t think it’s a stretch to state that paying a monthly fee for offsite backups or cloud storage would be much less expensive.
Tech Check #4: Electronic File Organization
Do you store electronic files on an internal network, on individual computers, or in the cloud? Does each ministry area have their files organized to make it easy for them (and for new team members or volunteers) to find what they need? The time and money wasted in trying to hunt down disorganized files can take away from ministry efforts and isn’t that hard to fix.
Technology can be a wonderful ministry tool. Yes, some devices or programs are expensive so we have to carefully consider where to invest the church’s resources. However, lagging behind technologically can cost your church time and money. Use the tech checks above to see if there are hidden financial drains at your church.
How does your church leadership make technology decisions?