Membership Plus Deluxe 4.0
Technology, Inc., go
to the web site
PC386, 8 MB RAM, Windows 3.x, CD-ROM, Mouse
Plus" is described as a "trusted, reliable and affordable
church management software with [a] financial accounting package"
and that's what it is. Considering that there are really five
programs on the CD-ROM which seamlessly integrate into a total
membership management program, the whole thing seem very affordable.
Only time will tell for "trusted [and] reliable"
but it never gave me a problem during review and I worked
at trying to cause problems. Parsons' may be limiting their
market by describing it as "church" management software
as it can easily adapt to any organization that tracks members,
meetings, finances and addresses. With 20 customizable data
fields and over 200 pre-defined and custom reports, it could
be used by a bowling league, baseball team, country club or
parent-teacher group as well.
bonus you get with Parsons' "Membership Plus 4.0 "
is "MoneyCounts 9.0", a "Quicken" look-alike
bookkeeping program (Not surprising as Parsons' and Quicken
are both owned by Intuit). Pop the CD-ROM into your drive
and Windows95 automatically starts the install program and
the other bonuses show up, Parsons' "Address Book 4.0",
their "Interest Vision SE", and the Borland Database
Engine Configuration Utility. These programs can be installed
in Windows 95, 3.x or NT, just click on your choices and follow
the on-screen instructions. This is very handy as the included
manuals only have "Install from Disk" procedures
and don't mention the CD-ROM at all, their only downfall.
I just let Windows95 install everything in the default directories
which was quick and painless. A last bonus on the CD-ROM is
the multimedia tutorial, which requires a soundcard and speakers.
3.11 install was almost as easy with a few more mouse clicks
to get it going, still very easy. While it is possible to
run everything on a '386 with only 8 meg of RAM, it is very
slow. I'd recommend a Pentium with 16 megs of RAM as a practical
minimum, especially when you have the three main programs
running at once. The Borland Database Engine (BDE) Configuration
Utility is used once to import from other Windows programs
such as "dBase for Windows", "Excel",
"Quattro Pro for Windows" or any other format using
a standard dBase IV file format. It then runs in the background
to connect the database files from each program and to export
data to any other similar data format program. The hardest
part of these programs is data input so this ability to import
is very useful and easy to do. Otherwise, data entry is a
lot of typing, tedious at best, so I just imported from a
churches existing database and was running smoothly in no
"Membership Plus" is easy to use with it's "type
once, entered in all programs" interface. With all its'
custom fields, you can enter anything you want to keep track
of for each member, even scanned photos. The amount of reports
you can create is staggering and only limited by what you
search for, assuming you have the data field set. The context-sensitive
help and "wizards" assist you in creating reports,
setting up groups, mail merge and even printing a pictorial
directory for your members. Want to know how many single men
over thirty-five attend your Tuesday night Bible Study more
than ten times over the past eight months? How about women
in the Friday bowling league with averages over 200, have
two children in the nursery and have improved ten points?
No problem, start a "wizard", input your criteria
and click OK, you've got it. The hardest thing about "Membership
Plus" is deciding what you want to track and how to print
it! However it does provide simplified filters for basic to
advanced reports to aid you.
its' features, perhaps the best way to get a feel for this
program is to download the Membership
Plus for Windows Demo available from Parsons. This 5.4
meg file will give you a an idea of how it works and integrates
with MoneyCounts and AddressBook. These add-in programs deserve
a full review themselves so I'll only say they work seamlessly
with Membership Plus. Many of their program are available
on-line so it's worth a visit. A handful of freebies, changed
often, are also there and you can sign up for their catalog.
All Parsons software is covered by a 30 day "satisfaction
guarantee" so if you don't like it, send it back for
a full refund. I'm not sure how this would work with downloaded
software but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. I contacted
Parsons via e-mail for technical support and received a prompt
reply to my imaginary problem. I didn't have any problems
so I made one up to test them. A test of the 800 order line
showed the sales staff to be courteous, knowledgeable about
all products and helpful in ordering. You can't lose with
any Parsons product so I recommend checking out any software
that may fit your needs. Membership Plus is going to the church
I used for this review and they are looking forward to using
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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