Computer Questions for Ministry Growth
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Computer Questions for Ministry Growth Series

How Much Do You Pay for Free ?

There was a siren song that wrecked many ships in the ancient days - - for those who remember The Iliad and The Odyssey from literature classes.

Today in ministries, the call of the word  "free"  sometimes seems irresistible to those confronted with the costs of technology and information handling tools.

How many ‘purchasing’ decisions are you making based upon "free" ?

Yes, there are some good free tools out there, the Firefox browser is an excellent example.
    Firefox has advantages over MS Internet Explorer (MSIE),  however some websites will not work properly (yet) with Firefox.   That is not a problem, because you can simply switch back to MSIE for the moment.
    However, databases and other applications are not "switchable" - - you are not using just a "viewer",   you are working with a more complex architecture that supports and enforces data integrity and business rules.

Among these "free" products - -
-- some are suitable for personal experimentation and learning,
-- some are adequate for teaching in schools or colleges,
-- some are good in the "laboratory" context  (where there are experts in "white coats" available).
However, these tools are not always suitable for business-like production environments.

Many of these "free" products depend upon a "volunteering community of developers and supporters"  who may move on to more interesting things (or be compelled to direct their attention to income producing tasks).

Many "free" products only provide part of the solution,  although the verbiage associated with them in discussions seems to imply more.   For example, a  "database"  that only handles the records but does not provide interface-development or other tools.   You are left with a product that does only part of the job  or  attempting to lash together "add-on" pieces to cover your needs.

Do you really have the all the expertise in-house that the "free" thing requires ?
Is that expertise generally available in the marketplace from which ministries draw their staff ?

Have you evaluated the  "lost opportunity costs"  incurred by avoiding the mainstream purchases ?

As people come into your ministry office as workers,  will they be likely to already know the "free" product you are considering ?
As people leave your ministry to go into the "real world",  will they have learned something useful for their future endeavors ?
Are you investing well in the people in your ministry ?

To learn more or to arrange for assistance,   see the  Contact Page.

(c) 2006 David McQuoid

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David McQuoid
Serving the Database and Software Development needs of Christian ministries through
 . Tech Serve International   and
 . Mission Builders International


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This page last edited: 09 October 2006