In our quest to provide you the best information on church accounting software, we are taking a look today at Church Windows. First of all, you have to love these guys just based on the sheer cleverness they have put into
their name. I've looked at some of their creations first-hand and have been very impressed. However, what follows will attempt to be an unbiased review of Church Windows.
Experience. This group has been doing accounting software for churches for a long time, since 1987. That is before the Internet was even being used on a mass-level. This means that their product has had the time necessary to work out any quirks that so often come with new software. It also means that a lot of people know how to use it and there will be good forums and self-help guides available.
Another great thing about Church Windows is that it comes as a complete package or as individual modules. Buying individual modules can be extremely difficult if you don't know what you're doing. A lot of church accountants have no idea what it is they need for their accounting system. For these people it is nice to buy a complete package and know they are getting everything they will need.
On the other hand it is nice for those people who are only looking for a specific feature such as membership tracking, payroll, or accounting to be able to just buy the individual module they need. These people can save a lot of money and confusion by not going with the whole package.
Pricing: This is probably not Church Window's greatest strength, but it is a strength nonetheless. Depending on exactly what you need, you might be able to find a cheaper option. However, usually when you pay a little more, you get a little better quality. Overall this software is priced very competitively.
Classes: Church windows is a pretty intuitive program; however, to get its full use you may want to take some of the classes they offer online. The fact that they even offer these classes is a huge bonus. A lot of people end up buying expensive accounting software for their church and end up not really knowing how to use it.
The Not So Good
I should probably qualify this with the fact that I'm easily bothered by website checkout processes. A lot of the time I wondering what products I'm getting and at what price. I'm also often left wondering what I'll be paying for shipping. Some people say that if you have questions you should call them; well, I for one don't want to call them. If I wanted to chat with someone then I wouldn't be shopping for the church accounting software on the Internet.
With that introduction, I must admit I was confused by the Church Windows check-out process. Take a look at it below.
I'm not sure how much you can see from this picture, but let me explain why it bothered me. First of all at the top it says "Standard Integrated Packages" $695. At this point, I'm wondering what I'm getting for the $700. After thinking about it a while, it looks like I'm getting the membership and contribution software, but that wasn't readily apparent to me.
Now, at the bottom of the picture you will notice they are offering additional options. These always make me nervous because I have no idea if I need this stuff. This one made me especially nervous because it has Accounts Receivable (add $150). At this point I'm thinking, "Wait a minute, isn't accounts receivable part of Accounting?". Then I really start wondering what comes in the accounting package. Is it missing something else that I might really need?
One thing that rubbed me a little the wrong with with Church Windows was the fact that they make you pay for the online classes. I realize that customer support isn't cheap, but a lot of companies these days will offer free pre-recorded classes for people who buy their products.
Church Windows also charges what is called a support fee. This is pretty standard amongst software providers, but it is something you should really know about before purchasing your church accounting software. Basically you have to pay $100-400 a year in order to get all of the latest updates and be able to call them when you have questions. Again, I realize that customer service isn't cheap, but some customers may be annoyed having to pay $400 a year just to keep the software working correctly.
In review, Church Windows is a reliable software that has been around for quite a while. Like most quality products, they have lots of customer support. They also have a great option that will allow you to buy one module or a complete package. Their check-out process is a tad confusing and they will try to hit you up with customer service fees (gotta stay in business somehow). Overall a product that you can't go wrong with, if you have the money.