Any cloud or this cloud?

Let’s say you’ve heard about this ambiguous idea dubbed “the cloud,” and let’s say you’re in tune with the idea of running your organization on applications that don’t reside on your computers, or within your premises.  With those givens, what specifically can ShalomCloud do for you?

Let’s run through a few real-world examples:

  1. You’re the president of the Sisterhood, and you want an up-to-date roster of your members.  ShalomCloud provides a tagging system for any and all members.  By means of that tag (or “attribute”), you, the president of Sisterhood, can log into the system from your smart phone, pull down a spreadsheet of Sisterhood members, and call them via tapping the phone number–or send an instant email, right from within the software.
  2. You’re the comptroller, treasurer, or anyone else who handles incoming funds.  With ShalomCloud, you have the ease of booking financial activity, and having it flow through QuickBooks Online immediately.  Thus, you are freed from having to periodically download activity from the synagogue management system.  Furthermore, having an immediate update should dramatically reduce the complexity of reconciling the two systems.
  3. Building on the point above–you’re the Executive Director, and you’re looking for ways to reduce manual, repetitive tasks among your personnel.  With ShalomCloud, you can, at your discretion, allow your membership to make payments online, which flow directly into the software.  As a result, there will be less time spent taking phone calls with credit card instructions, and less time spent opening envelopes and applying payments.
  4. You’re on the Board of Directors, and you want multi-year running totals, by family, of pledges and payments.  And you want a yearly summary along with it.  Sure, if you’re familiar with pivot tables in Excel, and if your software can dump down its history in a usable format, you can achieve that goal.  But with ShalomCloud, the work is done for you–at the touch of button, it creates a six-year trend report, by family, for any set of categories.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  Rather, your author has sought to take what may be an abstract concept (“it’s in the cloud”) and put paint to the canvas, so to speak, to provide concrete examples of how our software would benefit your entire organization.

Free web hosting for affiliates of USCJ

The reader should be aware that the USCJ (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism) offers free web hosting for its affiliates.  In addition, they make available about half a dozen free WordPress themes.

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What to consider when evaluating software

Whether acquiring software initially to solve an unmet need, or considering replacement for an existing, but inadequate solution, here are several ideas to consider and evaluate:

  • How would conversion to the software happen?  For example, can data be initially loaded via spreadsheet, or must it be entered manually?
  • Can data within the system be easily downloaded into a usable format for analysis within spreadsheet programs?
  • What are the ongoing maintenance costs, considering (a) licensing, (b) hardware, (c) vendor support?
  • To what extent does the software integrate with others that you may be using, such as accounting programs, scheduling applications, email, and text messaging?
  • If the application handles credit cards, is it compliant with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards?
  • What is involved with adding users?
  • How are upgrades handled?
  • To what extent is the vendor willing and able to enhance the software to better serve your work processes?

Seven reasons to use cloud software

  • Nothing to install on desktop/laptop machines
  • No server software to maintain and, eventually, replace
  • Saves the cost of having a local hardware company maintain and patch your on-premises machine
  • Software upgrades available automatically–no local upgrades required
  • Device independence
  • Frees you from having to perform periodic backups and having data available in case of a contingency event
  • Hardware sizing can grow and shrink according to need