Church IT

Tech Tuesday 5-19-09

Don’t get too excited. This may or may not be a weekly event. However, I wanted to pimp out Jason Lee and a brilliant idea he has been working on.

If you are user of ACS ChMS (There’s 50-60,000 churches right there.) and use Outlook via Exchange w/ Active Directory, Global Address Book, Jason has a deal for you! He has a couple of blog posts on it here and here. That is where you will find the technical nuts and bolts.

Think of this as the contact information version of your file server. What happens when an employee saves a document to their local C drive? It becomes their work in the “shadow lands” and your problem when the drive fails. They think “mine” and you think “oh, man”.
If they store it on the Public drive, everyone feels secure. There’s back up, there’s redundancy. There’s access. Life is good. With the right education and incentive, there’s really no need to store to the local drive any longer.

This would give you Exchange folks the same option for emails and addresses. Yes, we all know if people would just use the database, or AccessACS this would all be a moot point. Points are seldom moot in the real world.
If all the contact data that is stored in your ChMS isthen pushed into that Outlook client that your staff can’t live without, it eliminates the need (and the habit) of maintaining Outlook contacts. Especially when it will be updated FOR them! Just think- Everyone working off the same email and address lists. Always. Without coercion or strife. Visualize world peace.

Jason summed it up well:
“If this were in production, I won’t get any more emails from attendees saying “I have told you to update my email but staff continue to email my old email address”.

The downside to this is it is still WAY preproduction. Just “proof of concept”. Which is engineering speak for “We made it work, but we need some cash to make it work well enough so people won’t try to kill us later when it breaks.” How much cash? Not nearly enough to make Dave Ramsey yell “Sell the car!”

Jason had several comments on the usefulness of this. With the right amount of “buy-in” or proclaimed need, this project could move to the front burner. For more info or questions related to groups, etc. hit the blog links above or email: Jason.Lee “at” nwoods “dot” org.

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