Data for Disciples
Who can you ask for real-time data? Alex!
Alex is a database that will be shared by the whole Church. General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens set this as an objective early in her tenure, knowing from her earlier experience in corporate settings that business intelligence (data) is key to making informed decisions. Alex will position Disciples to finally have a real-time directory and picture of churchwide trends that has been impossible with the current yearbook system.
But there’s more! The goal is that as we build out the system there will be an opportunity to have more church intelligence. Together congregations, regions, and general ministries will be able to analyze trends in geographical areas, see changes in staffing models, look for ways to combine strengths, and more. We will eventually have all our historical data in the system to get a firm grasp on the past as we chart our future together. (To quote management guru Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”)
This work is only possible if we have good data. The Alex database will draw in select data from our current yearbook legacy system, and from the financial database maintained by Treasury Services. Congregations and regions can spot trends in real time. Congregations will be able to update their contact and staff information in real time for submission to the regions for verification before pushing it out to the existing databases housed in general ministries.
A single e-mail and password will be assigned to your congregation. Each congregation will have just one e-mail address/password combination that is shared among the pastor, administrative assistant and whomever is designated to enter attendance and/or financial data. This username and password can be changed by your congregation as staff change. The warehouse can be accessed on the web via computer or mobile device.
Once a year, a snapshot of all data will be taken for historical records (like the yearbook does now). Alex, however, will allow for an online interface that will be updated in real time. Your congregation will be able to submit changes in staff, address or select other information as changes occur and your region and the general ministries will get the information in real-time.
An added benefit of Alex (the database) is that your giving to Disciples Mission Fund and the special offerings will be updated by Treasury Services so you will have accurate records of your tithing to the whole Church each month. (No more digging for the Easter and Week of Compassion totals in January the next year!)
Your congregation’s data will be rolled up into region-wide totals that your regional staff will be able to see for a real-time picture of activity. As your data accumulates, you will be able to easily see trends and patterns in the previous months and, eventually, for several years. The data will automatically be presented in graphs. Other congregations will not have access to your data until the aggregate yearbook “snapshot” but congregations and regional ministers will be able to download individual congregations’ data for study, profiles, and more.