Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today's Video Interview @ CLA

I rarely get asked to do video interviews.  In fact, today was only the second time!

While at CLA Dallas 2011 I was asked if I'd help Azusa Pacific's online course development team by answering a couple of questions in a video interview.  Are you kidding me?!! Of course!

The two questions were IT related.  Here they are along with a summary of my response:

Q:  What types of internal controls should ministries make sure they have in place related to information technology?
  • In addition to current firewall and anti-malware solutions, their networks should be configured to lock accounts after a number of unsuccessful login attempts.   This helps protect against hackers and bots.
  • Passwords
    • Contrary to popular belief, requiring that passwords be changed every 60-90 days in ministry settings actually lowers security.
    • Passwords should be at least 7 characters long and include at least one of each of the following:
      • Lowercase letter
      • Uppercase letter
      • Number
      • Common punctuation
  • Data should be organized in departmental folders that are only accessible by those with appropriate roles within the organization
Q:  When should an organization consider purchasing new accounting and database software?
  • Most ministries change their software for the wrong reasons.  A couple of the most common wrong reasons are:
    • The current software doesn't meet 100% of our needs.  The mistake people make is believing there are 100% solutions available.  That is a myth; 100% solutions do not exist.  If you can find one that meets 80%, that's good!
      • Regarding the percent of needs not met: if possible, adapt your business practices to close the gap rather than requiring the software to close the gap.  The organization will have a much higher likelihood of being happy with their software.
    • The solution is too complex.  Investing in training, which is a lot less expensive than changing software, will likely overcome this issue.
  • The two most appropriate reasons to change are:
    • The company has gone out of business or has been bought by a company that will no longer support the solution.
    • The ministry has come to recognize needs their solution cannot-- and will not within a reasonable time-- meet.  Before pulling this trigger, however, contact the current provider to see if they already meet the need (and you just don't know it) or if they are planning to within a reasonable timeframe.
That was fun!  But was my nose too shiny?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MBS Transfers Policy & Procedure Handbook Template Series to ECFA

Here's a copy of our 4/18/2011 press release on this:

MBS (Ministry Business Services) and ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) are jointly announcing the transfer of MBS' "Policy & Procedure Handbook Template" series to ECFA. ECFA will make the policies available via its website,

"We saw the need in churches and ministries for accurate, easy-to-implement policies, and enjoyed helping them by creating this series of templates," said Nick Nicholaou, president of MBS. "The templates are used in thousands of churches and ministries throughout the U.S. and cover the management of finances, human resources, information technology and risk. We often hear from folks how fast and easy these are to implement."

Nicholaou said MBS is focusing more on information technology solutions and that ECFA would be a good steward of the company's template series.

"ECFA is the perfect fit to continue providing these policies and procedures," said Nicholaou. "The organization has a solid reputation for advancing good church and ministry management."

The policies are in the process of being reviewed by ECFA experts in the field and will be incorporated into its robust web site Knowledge Center soon.

MBS ( is a consulting firm specializing in church and ministry IT and CPA services. In the IT area they are known for high-reliability, low-cost data networks and cloud solutions.

ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit or call 1-800-323-9473.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Article: Review of Microsoft Office 2010 & 2011

Microsoft released two versions of their Office Suite last year (Windows and Mac), and folks want to know if it's worth upgrading to them. The bottom line is, yes! On either platform!

To read the article, click here!