The Cost of Free Stuff

 In Blog, Communication

You know the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is”.  Everyone loves free stuff. But sometimes there are hidden costs to free things. For instance, a church may do a clothing drive for a local homeless shelter, asking people to donate gently used items for the upcoming colder weather. Great idea.  But, not so free by the time it’s all said and done.  First, you have to spend time promoting the event, then you have volunteers time staffing the drive, sorting clothes, storing them on site, and washing, folding and delivering the donated items. There is often unseen costs in free things.

Today, there are lots of free software options to help people do the work of ministry. Churches want to be good stewards and have limited budgets. For these and other reasons, churches are often tempted to look to free and low cost solutions when it comes to technology. But, when you are looking at new technology that is free or low cost, consider a few of the hidden costs before making the leap. In a post by IdealWare, they explore the hidden costs. Here are a few highlights:

Cost of Migration

When you launch a new tool, do you have to move data from one or many places into the new tool? How much time, effort and pain is associated with the migration? Additionally, there is often high turnover rate with low cost software. If you don’t like the new tool, will you have to migrate the data a second time?

Cost of Training

Often low cost software doesn’t offer the same level of onboarding, documentation and coaching that more expensive software solutions do. Also, if there are many of your staff using the new tool, they will need to be trained in the new software as well.

Cost of Support

Much like training, low cost software often has limited support. If something isn’t working well, how will you get it resolved? How much will the downtime cost you, or the time for your staff to research the solutions?

Cost of Risk

Low cost software can be risky. There are higher than normal rates of data breach, possible limited ongoing development, and the risk of the company shutting it down.

Change is coming

Good thing for churches, there are significant changes happening in how software is built, delivered and priced.  Over the past few years, many of the largest software providers like Adobe, and Microsoft, have moved from a model of one time purchase software, to a cloud based subscription model. The tide has turned and it is projected that by 2020 80% of software will be delivered by cloud based subscription model. So what does this mean for you? It’s actually a really good thing! Here’s why:

Big Upfront Cost  Vs. Lower Monthly

In the old model, you would pay a large upfront price for software that would be installed on a local machine. That means that you had the cost of the software, cost of the hardware, and when a new version came out, you got to do it all over again. Subscription software is usually a monthly cost that is much lower and includes updates.

Agile Vs Waterfall

In the old system, you would get a new version of software that was a bunch of new improvements all bundled in the new version. The development model is typically called ‘waterfall’. Updates in this system are not as frequent, but are bundled in larger releases. It is a slower process than the newer ‘agile’ development approach. This approach makes smaller improvements on an ongoing basis. That means more value and improvements to you, and quicker.

One install Vs. Many devices

We no longer live in a world where people only use one device or one device type. Many users have laptops, desktops, tablets, and a smartphone. Often, cloud-based products allow users to access their information no matter what device, or how many devices they use. In the older system, users had to purchase multiple licenses and install the software in a variety of places. Additionally, the data wasn’t always available across devices.

Versioning Vs Cloud Updates

How many times has someone sent you a file that you can’t open because you have the wrong version of the same software? With the new approaches to software, this issue goes away. Because updates are deployed into the cloud, everyone is on the same version.

At aware3, we provide cloud deployed tools to churches, helping you build connection within your community.  We provide our software to our partners and give them two pricing options. For more on about our products and pricing visit aware3.