You’ve all seen them at church. Members popping out these strange looking devices during a sermon or Sunday School class. At first we thought they were playing games on them, but now we know that they were actually following along by reading the assigned scriptures or lesson manual.
The good people over at Icon Systems have released an application that will allow church leaders to manage their church using mobile devices like the iPad. I had to find out more so I contacted them with a few questions.
How will this make accounting and management better for churches?
Bill (President): Most people enjoy iPads and other portable devices; they provide a source of entertainment and are a great way to communicate as well as find information. With the availability of a full accounting system mobile devices have become much more than entertainment and communication devices: they are now valuable business tools.
Jay (Sales): If someone asks a question during a board meeting but no one happened to bring a copy of that particular report. Someone would either have to take a guess, follow-up later, or run back to their desk to print the report. What if the council wants to change a budget or prefers that some entries be reclassified to a different fund or general ledger account? The best they could do is take note of the changes and make the adjustments after the meeting. Accessing the church database on the iPad grants users the freedom to instantly make changes and provide accurate information no matter where they are.
Do you see a fair amount of churches using portable tablets in the future or will they remain somewhat of a novelty?
Bill: A high-powered laptop is not needed for typical tasks such as surfing the Web, taking notes, emailing, and social networking. Tablets are not only fully capable of the above tasks, but also offer additional benefits: they are lightweight, have an extended battery life, and offer quick availability since they are always on. Technology is definitely trending towards mobile devices. Tech-savvy individuals are not the only ones using mobile devices; the general population has also discovered ways in which mobile devices make life easier.
Jay: Essentially, new technology brings more opportunities that churches can use to help grow their organization. Mobile technology and social media are a powerful combination; users anywhere can hear about a struggle someone is having and post it to Facebook, Twitter, or other applications. Icon Systems is working to offer our services on as many mobile devices as possible including various types of phones as well as tablets such as the iPad, Motorola Zoom, and Samsung Galaxy.
Please tell us about all the exciting features. I have to admit that as someone who helps manage a church I’m excited to read about your offering.
Bill: Icon Systems has adjusted the menus to provide a larger work-space and easier navigation. The larger work-space increases productivity by allowing multiple windows to be open at the same time so users can view and edit more information. Touch navigation has been added so customers have a true mobile experience with the familiarity of other applications they currently use. Time is the most valuable commodity people have so allowing volunteers and staff to complete objectives while on the go saves the church time and money.
Jay: The main goal behind this advancement of church software is bringing the church's database (accounting, contributions, payroll and membership) into the hands of the user wherever they may be located. Icon Systems is taking IconCMO and putting it all on the portable tablet devices to be completely mobile.
Here are some great examples of how churches can use the iPad:
- Send an email blast to the church's prayer chain within minutes rather than waiting hours or days after being notified of critical information.
- Pastors can determine how to best serve members by viewing email history, notes, reminders, attendance reports, and group assignments.
- Group leaders can use the iPad to take attendance for children's bible education, adult ministries, addiction counseling, or any other ministries the church offers.
A recent blog post by MicrosoftTag supports the idea that mobile devices will become commonplace because of their versatility. Mobile devices started to be useful in our personal lives, however with an increase in development for web application they are becoming a vital business tool. There are many reasons why: low hardware cost, portability, speed and functionality, and sleek user interfaces. The post also reported that mobile devices are expected to account for more Internet usage than desktop computers by the year 2014. People enjoy using their mobile devices and are looking for new ways to fully utilize the technology.
Since technology moves at record breaking speeds, your ChMS needs to move just as fast. The church should embrace mobile technology and utilize it to raise community awareness, increase donations, quickly change data on the fly, and bring ease of use to members and staff while keeping everyone as mobile as possible. Engaging members through instant communication is essential for churches; people are busier than ever before and staying productive while on the go is a must. Icon Systems, Inc. is dedicated to connecting churches with the latest technology.
For multisite organizations with offices on other continents delivering mobile technology to them is essential. IconCMO has been deployed within organizations that span several continents successfully. Adding this mobile technology helps those organizations do their job effectively no matter where they are located. Many countries use Internet cafes requiring traveling instead of having the Internet in their homes. Now they can use the cellular networks to access their church software solution and save time in traveling that can be devoted to ministry work.