Ben Miller brought up a great question on the introduction post asking:
I was wondering if you could define the terms “CMS” and “Content Management System” as you are going to use them here. I’ve always understood the abbreviation CMS to have two different meanings: “Content Management System” and “Church Management System.”
He’s right, the terms are confusingly similar. So, here’s a look:
What is a Content Management System?
Even in the traditional CMS world, there are two flavors: Web and Enterprise.
A web CMS is exactly what you think of in Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress with some CMS-specific plugins.These are used to control a website, and are mostly concerned with content aimed at the “public” as opposed to internal operations.
On the other hand, an Enterprise CMS (ECM) is focused on storing and accessing information for an internal user, much like a Church CMS. In this WhitePaper on Enterprise CMS, the author points out the five functions of an ECM:
Since those are essentially the core functions of any ChCMS, I suspect that the field of ChCMS (which is relatively old) derives it’s name from the world of Enterprise CMS rather than a Joomla-type setup.
What is a Church CMS?
They come in all different flavors, mostly according to how much you’re interested in paying. Their goal is to make some of the data-heavy problems in the church simpler. So if you are charged with attendance tracking, a ChCMS would take all the numbers, and format a nice report each month.
Or if you need a unified, secure way to check children in and out of sunday school, many of them also provide check-in functionality.
In fact, the core services of most ChCMS services are fairly similar. The differences come in the form of:
- Level of integration between services.
- Ease of training new volunteers to use the system
- Pricing type
Of course it is hard to assess ease-of-training or user-friendliness before you take the plunge and buy it and even comparing price can be a hassle. We’re going to try to eliminate some of that uncertainty, and combine a lot of those factors so you can compare “apples to apples.”