Integrate or Die. Ok, that maybe a little strong!
Integration within your organization is very, very important and must not be underestimated. Many of you know that church and Non-Profit organizations have been dealing with pathetic software for years in their perspective markets. Not only has the software been BAD, but the companies that are selling and pushing the software have had no vision for the dynamic church or organization. (That is truly the scary part!) However, this is all changing for the good! I am seeing more and more software and online ASP solutions for churches that are solving pieces of the vast puzzle. And, I will even go as far as saying that they are solving these pieces of the puzzle quite well. So what's the problem then? Well, the problem starts when you are not focusing on the core of your business. Buy adding many of these new software pieces to the current mix, you will actually complicate your situation. What I find happens quite often is churches will go about solving each piece of the puzzle independently. The next thing that you know, you have 2,3,4 or 10 solutions in place that are now stand alone. Independently they work great, but the problem is just that, they are independent of one another. Now, you have silos, and silos of data that do not talk, they do not integrate and they lead to major communication problems. (Sounds like an IBM commercial to me) The problem with that is most can not afford IBM, and they actually could not solve the problem anyway.
So, what do you do? Get back to basics and make sure that your core infrastructure in place. As a church, your infrastructure is your Church Management System and your core financial package. This is a challenge to all of us because there are so many "cool" tools now available, but most of the time cool tools create mission drift. Remember, when selecting your solution you must make sure that it is scaleable and can grow with you, many times by doing this you find that the "cool" tools will integrate later. Something that we talk about a lot at Fellowship is not focusing on where you are today, but focus on where are you going and imagine that your church or organization is three or four times the size that it is today. How that plays out in my daily life is I must manage and lead Fellowship as 65,000 strong, serving 4 or more campuses through the entire United States. This is not easy, but it does force me to stay focused on the basics!