Since I have been reviewing Church Management Software (ChMS) for three decades, I can tell you one of the most important attributes of a good ChMS is their ability to evolve and grow with the needs of their user base! Recently I interviewed Bill Gifford at Icon Systems and learned a lot about their history, previous versions, etc. But when I asked Bill to share with me the biggest challenge he has seen over the years (from when they started until now) Bill’s response was, “The biggest challenge has been trying to accommodate the variety of requests we get from users. The specific needs of pastors, staff and volunteers vary from church to church. We do our best to cater to a wide range of needs.”
Bill Gifford, CEO at Icon Systems, knows how to step up to the challenge since they have been producing ChMS for 25 years! Like most of the great ChMS companies, Icon Systems was born because Robert (Bob) Gifford, Bill’s father, started Icon after speaking with the pastor and staff at his church and stepped up to create a church management software program back in 1992. From their first ChMS offerings created to run on Windows and Macintosh, they have moved to a fully cloud-based product, excelled in their fund accounting module, handled communication tools and connection features such as their online pictorial directory.
When I asked Bill about Icon System’s mission and goal, he stated, “We make it easier to manage your church so you have more time to spend on what really matters – your mission. We do this by using the latest technology to make high quality church management software and offering it at an affordable price. Efficiently managing thousands of databases and racks of servers round the clock is critical to providing a stable product that churches can afford.”
And now, Icon Systems has announced their latest achievement. They have announced Icon Rubix!
Why did they call their new service Icon Rubix? This new product resembles a multi-dimensional puzzle. They wanted a new product that was built from the ground up, not added to old code. They wanted a product that was designed for mobile computing first with complete desktop compatibility. However, the real power of Icon Rubix is its ability to provide real-time collaboration!
Real-time collaborative editing (like Google Docs) comes standard in Icon Rubix, so many staff members and volunteers can collect valuable data simultaneously. Real-time collaboration also enables an unparalleled user experience: everything is automatically saved, all information is immediately up-to-date, and you can easily switch between devices without missing a beat.
Another of the many features of Icon is child check-in. Staff and members can use their smart phones, tablets, etc. Icon will work with any device that has an Internet connection! And their check-in does not need printers or other hardware, it uses pictures of guardians to ensure children’s safety. This way volunteers can quickly verify the appropriate adult for each child when it is time for the child to be picked up.
Since small groups have become vital to growing churches, Icon Rubix is designed to help groups stay connected and provide communication tools to the group’s members. You can send emails to church groups or individuals. In addition, the pastor can initiate phone calls while viewing any individual’s records.
Icon Systems has big plans for Icon Rubix. They have shared with me several new features that are in the works. Event registration: Community and church members can register and pay for events. They can even add on items such as t-shirts or books. Stripe integration: Members can donate online via the church website or by logging into the parishioners’ module.
It is obvious that ChMS needs to do more than just provide data on member’s information. It has become vital for ChMS to provide communication and connection tools for both staff and members. It seems apparent that as our society has moved to mobile computing, ChMS needs to access this same platform. Icon Rubix is a great achievement and should be an important consideration for churches looking for a new ChMS!
In preparing for this review, I spent some time talking with the staff of several churches that use Icon Systems. Everyone I talked with gave them great ratings when it came to customer service, an important thing to know if you are considering switching over to Icon Systems for your ChMS!
Additionally, here are some other important things to know about Icon Systems. All customers training is done online via webinars. And when I asked Bill to tell me what makes Icon Systems unique, it wasn’t a specific feature. His response was, “Ironically, the thing our customers love most isn’t a feature in our software-it’s our customer support. They really appreciate being able to send an email and get a reply back the same day or pick up the phone and talk to another human being who can answer their question.”
For more information about Icon Systems, Icon Rubix and all of their services and products, visit https://www.iconcmo.com.
By Steve Hewitt