About Specialty Club

 

Greetings!

Welcome to the Specialty Club information section.

The Specialty Club is a very unique service available to all churches and non-profit groups.

A Little History

Specialty Software has served the church and non-profit market exclusively for 20+ years - and today our company is stronger now than ever. Many of our existing original clients are still some of our best clients today. Over a twenty year period of time many of our clients have moved to a new ministry or location - and will then order our software for their new ministry.

Our mission statement back in 1983 is basically the same then as it is now - "to provide the best church management software and technical support to local congregations of all sizes so each congregation can better minister in the community in which they live." Specialty Software was founded by a local pastor with expertise in church growth and administration, who also had an extensive programming background. The result of this vision is why our company today is known as a leader in the latest computer technology. There is probably less than 4 other companies who have served the church market as long as Specialty Software.

Specialty Software has several thousand clients - and our goal is to continue to provide the best software and technical support available anywhere.

Introducing 'The Club'

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary, Specialty Software introduces..... 'The Specialty Club.'

The Specialty Club is a new way to use our software that will result in savings of up to 90%-95% savings over a three year period of time.

A New Unique Approach

Let's set the record straight: The Specialty Club is a new and unique approach in the church market (although this approach is fairly common in the secular business world). The benefits to a local church or non-profit group is substantial in both price savings and also service.

Technology is much different now than it was in 1983, and continues to change at a faster pace each month. Because of this, nearly all users of computers find themselves in a 'never ending cycle of upgrading computer hardware, software, and the Microsoft Windows operating system.' However, there is now a solution... and its from The Specialty Software Club.

With the popularity of the internet, it is now possible and popular to just download software (and updates) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The end result of this is a 'shipping department' is not required to do the following:

  • Create a CD
  • Have a manual Printed
  • Physically package a CD and manuals
  • Print a mailing label
  • Take to the post office

Substantial savings are realized - and can be passed on to you... the client. In addition... support and service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through The Club download and support forum.

Members of The Club are notified immediately when an update has been posted in the Support Forum, which can then be downloaded at your convenience (it takes about 1 to 3 minutes for most users to perform the download).

To ASP or Not or Maybe

Let's set the record straight: although we like many things about ASP, it is not the greatest thing since slice bread.

If you don't know what ASP is, and are not interested - you can just skip this section.

What is ASP? It stands for Active Server Pages. You have probably 'experienced' an Active Server Page before while browsing on the internet if you ever purchased something online and were required to enter your Visa/MasterCard. The form which collected this information might have been an ASP page, and your credit card information was saved out in cyber space somewhere on someone else computer (a company, bank, etc.).

As you can see, ASP is great for collecting information so a person can make a purchase online.

Many people mistakenly think that an ASP program can run without any software installed on the local computer's hard drive, which then means that no software ever has to be installed or updated on the local computer. However this is incorrect. ASP runs within the local computers web browser (such as Internet Explorer) and nearly all ASP programs drop many programs on the local computers hard drive without you knowing it (that is how your password is remembered the next time you return to that site, etc.). Not only do these small programs have to be updated regularly (usually without you knowing it or without your permission), but web browsers are probably the most updated program around - as companies such as Microsoft have to constantly 'plug' security holes which have been found in the browser.

Now, don't get us wrong - there are certain things that we like about ASP and other programs that supposedly run over the web and not on our local machine. However, it is not a 'perfect' solution and in reality is in its infancy and has a long way to go before its truly mature.

One of the problems with ASP is that if the internet is 'down' anywhere between you the ASP provider, then your information is not available - nor the ASP program. Yes, we realize that the 'idea' to the 'web' is that its like a 'spiders web' and if one line is down then another line is used in which the spider can crawl. This is not the problem in reality. The real problem is at your site - say the local phone or cable company is working on the line - then you are down and can not access your data online. Does your phone and cable company call you in advance and tell you when this is going to happen? Nope. Also, the site where the ASP is located can also be down - as system failure, security breaches, and a thousand other problems can and do happen. During this time, you can't access the ASP programs or your data. Does this happen often? Our experience is that it does not happen often, but always seems to happen at the worst time.

Within the last two months (at the time this was written) we personally experienced failures with three other companies-organizations  we do business with. None of these companies could provide any information to us about our accounts, etc., All of these companies have some of the most powerful web access and mainframe computers available.

  • MasterCard
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange

The failure at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange lasted for over seven hours. The MasterCard and Blue Cross/Blue Shield - we just waited till the next day before we tried to access our data. We use another program that gathers information over the internet from the USA financial markets, and it basically fails at least five times a day (we have used this program for over three years - and I do not know of a single day in three years it hasn't failed at least once - and this product cost $100 a month).

But the question remains.... are we OK if our church programs and data can not be accessed during these down times?

We personally are not.

So, our products work with or without internet access - so that if the internet is down, you are not. However, our programs can be quickly and easily updated from the internet. The Club offers the best of both worlds. Our programs have a balance between regular desktop applications and ASP. So, we use both technologies for different things. Our applications run much faster than any ASP application. However, we use ASP for Online giving, and ASP.NET will probably be used in the future to allow your people to view-update their information online - if you decide to allow them to have this feature.