Church IT

AIG owes me an explanation

So we bail out AIG to the tune of $85 billion dollars. Putting that in perspective, that is almost 60 times the amount of government loan guarantees given to rescue Chrysler in 1979. Then we find out the AIG execs spend $400k of that on a weekend retreat. Personally, as a now reluctant shareholder, I’d like a better explanation than “we had it planned for months”.

Which brings me to my point. I found through Hal Campbell’s Facebook account that he is no longer the president and CEO of ACS Technologies. This came as quite a shock as he has been there since almost the very beginning, joining the company in 1979, the year after it was founded. http://www.acstechnologies.com/company/about/article11666c19049.htm .
From what I was able to glean at the recent convention, Hal was responsible for much of the forward push the last few years. Acquiring Membership Plus, integration with their other software pieces, having their OnDemand ChMS solution run in a MAC environment (No parallels or anything else), acceptance into the iphone development program, etc. We have all of our products with ACS.

We use the AccessACS module that allows our members to maintain their own groups, make changes to their profile, etc (requires approval by the admin). In addition to the regular convenience of the Hospitality Team not having to maintain their own lists, it also means in the event of a disaster all I need is an internet connection and I can search, contact, etc. all my members and their groups. I can even set up new groups. If I needed to I could set up a group that was “needs brush cleared” that people could add their names to and another one that is “able to clear brush” within 15 minutes and those members could cross connect.
We also have outlook integration where I can search for a member name, address, phone number and email straight from Outlook with just an internet connection.
We also use their Extend platform to host our website as it has taken it out of the well meaning hands of the single volunteer who had the pass code, and is placing it into the hands of our ministry leaders. When you are a short staffed church (aren’t we all?) this is a big help. It is an educational process to get lay leaders heads around the concept that they can have direct influence on the information on the website.
There are some other things in development such as digital signage using Silverlight that pulls calendar information in real time, integration of your personal volunteer commitments and the church prayer list straight into your Outlook.
So, yes, I am a big fan of ACS. Add to the above the fact that when you call support and the guy says his name is “Bob” you know that is short for “Robert” not “Habibashushka”. No offense to the outsourced Asian tech support that is so prevalent, but it is hard to beat a South Carolina accent saying “Naw, y’all just don’t worry. Git yerself some sweet tea and relax.”

So, given the fact that we, as well as about 60,000 other churches spend upwards of a few thousand dollars a year with ACS, it would seem like a major change in the organization would be something that would be announced in advance. They’ve got our emails. Especially in light of the news at the convention that this was turning out to be a very successful year and all the investment in infrastructure was paying off. Generally when a long sitting president vacates, there is some sort of announcement as to how it will or will not affect the overall direction. Especially when the direction of the last 24 months has been so forward thinking. It just seems odd.
You would have a hard time convincing me there was anything untoward on Hal’s part. A VERY hard time.

So, while I still think AIG “owes” me an explanation for taking that the retreat on my dime, I don’t know that the ACS board of directors “owes” its clients an explanation. But it sure would be nice to know the thought process, the plan going forward, and what this means for the future of the products and people(their biggest asset IMO) that I and so many others depend on so heavily. Like I said, they’ve got our emails…..

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