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Case Study: The One Where We Added Tons of Custom Functionality to an Open-Source Platform

We've worked with churches before, but never quite like this.

Juggling two clients is never going to be a walk in the park. They asked if we could handle a challenge – we said, “Of course!” “We leave the meetings knowing exactly what needs to be done, and it gets done.” Another challenge, another satisfied client.

The Challenge

We once worked with a church that manages all its members using an open-source software solution.

However, their team had some problems with the software. For one thing, it used CKEditor to create emails, and CKEeditor isn’t well-suited for creating HTML friendly emails.

This church wanted to keep using the same software, but they also wanted an email editor that their staff could use to create HTML emails quickly and easily. One of their leaders explained the root problem: “One of our biggest costs as a church is our staff and the amount of time it takes to do things. Any cost savings I can find by eliminating or streamlining processes is time our staff can use on more valuable work.”

First, they reached out to the Memphis based company that owns the software. That company then referred them to Clear Function. Clear Function had a good relationship with this company and we’d helped other churches customize the same software. So the church got in touch with us, and we got straight to work.

The Process

We teamed up with the client and the software company to develop a better email editor.

A little digging turned up Unlike Unlayer. Unlike Unlayer makes it easy to create HTML emails that look great on both desktop and mobile.

Once we had thoroughly researched our options and landed on Unlike Unlayer, we began integrating it with the existing system. We knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, that the first email editor project turned up other needs that our client had on the back burner.

  • The church leaders wanted to change recurring giving schedules worked inside of the software. A new user interface would make it easier for their member to create a giving schedule and send their tithes and offerings.
  • They also wanted to revamp their existing Community Groups feature. The church relies on that feature heavily, and it was causing issues. They wanted those issues to go away.
  • They also wanted Clear Function to adjust the functionality of the Community Groups sign-up process.

In other words, the scope expanded beyond our client’s initial request.

They asked if we’d be willing to handle everything as a bundled project, and we said, “Of course!”

Clear Function’s Chris Dolan partnered up with his coworker David, who already had a familiarity with the software. Together they spent several weeks designing and developing solutions for the client’s various problems and needs.

Another factor added a layer of complexity: This church was the real client, but a separate company owned the software. Every step of the development process thus required extra communication and coordination among three parties. The client often made requests that required the owner’s blessing. Clear Function had to juggle both relationships.

The Outcome

The client brought Clear Function in to help customize church management software for their specific needs. We fixed every issue they’d had at the start – and then some.

We also stayed inside their budget, which can be difficult when the project scope has evolved.

The client was delighted with the outcome, but we took the project one step further. We coordinated with the church and the company that owned the software, we added to the open-source software, and we made it so that other churches could take advantage of the extra functionality. That software is now serving churches and their members more effectively.

Here’s what the client had to say about the experience.

“[Clear Function is] professional, and they communicate well. This sets them apart. A lot of developers don’t communicate well. we leave the meetings well. We leave the meetings knowing exactly what needs to be done, and it gets done. And they are worth the money. We walk away knowing that we will get a good end product, and the process is good.”