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Anyone who has ever lost a Word document they were working on because they forgot to save the file or their computer suddenly shut down knows the painful heartbreak of lost data. It’s a soul-crushing experience. You have something so valuable and then, in an instant, it’s gone.

What will happen to your old data is a too-often-overlooked element of switching church management systems. Here’s what you don’t want to happen: You don’t want to fall in love with a software on the front-end, only to find out on the backend you’re not going to be able to bring over the data that you thought you could. That’s why you have to ask the right questions early in the process.

Three key questions to ask about ChMS data conversion

When it comes to data conversion, what are the things you need to think about as your explore new church management systems? Start with these questions:

1. What data do you need to bring over?

What data do you have that it’s critical you bring over to the new system? This is an important thing to know and may even help determine which systems you choose to explore further (it could be a non-negotiable).

Make sure you ask software salespeople upfront, what kind of data can I bring over? Giving history? Attendance history? And what might be lost if I switch to this software? Know what the situation is with each software, so you can ask yourself and your team the next questions...

2. What would losing your previous data mean?

What’s it going to mean for your team if you can’t bring over your giving history? Or what if you can bring over last year’s giving data, but you can’t bring over any previous years? What’s it going to mean for your small group leaders if you can’t access attendance history from last year? What’s the impact level?

For some churches, losing past data might not be a big deal. It may be easily accessible from another space when necessary. For other churches, it may be a big deal. Your team may need to access that data for all sorts of things. That’s why you want to make sure you ask whoever’s telling you about the software, am I going to be able to bring over the data that I need?

3. What are the hidden costs of lost data?

Going back to the previous conversation about cost, how much will it cost your church if you lose your previous data or if you can’t have all your data in one place? Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean how much money will it cost you. Is it going to cost your team time and aggravation?

For example: If there’s ever a question about who attended camp back in 2015, the person who’s checking will have to go to a separate system to find that data. It may seem like a small hassle in the moment. But, over time, small hassles tend to pile up and become big hassles. And that can come at a cost.

Think ahead by looking back at your data

Switching over to a new church management system isn’t only about what happens to your data moving forward. It’s about integrating your existing data to make it convenient and accessible for your team. You want to make sure you can bring over information from previous systems without losing what’s important.

10-questions-devicesLearn more valuable insights about shopping for a new church management system by downloading our free content paper “What to Know Before You Switch” now.

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