Orthodox Software Initiative (By Effie Marie Smith, Senior Manager)

Effie Marie Smith

The Orthodox Software Initiative is a ministry that implements, with training, data software systems that unify standardized reporting at Parish, Metropolis and Archdiocese levels to enhance all aspects of Church life.  It enables communication, ministry, ministering, parishioner interaction, sacramental, parish and ministry management, financial management and tracking, and more consistent and accurate reporting.  

The Initiative began with an initial team of clergy and laity, volunteers from across the country with expertise in project management, communications, systems analysis, technology, and finance.  Repeated throughout the country, it became immediately apparent to the team how great the need was for a unified, consistent approach. We established a set of criteria that would form the basis of the three-tier system.  The first, parish based, is intended to offer a unified, cohesive approach to parish management.  It encompasses all aspects of parish life, including among other items, financial accounting, recording and reporting, stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, managing parish data, ministries, directories, and standardizing reporting at Parish, Metropolis and Archdiocese levels.  It also includes the development and implementation of the standardized National Chart of Accounts and is intended additionally to ensure consolidated data common across all Parishes.  This has many tangible benefits including ease of use, cross training, support, reporting, and more, and eases Metropolis and Archdiocese reporting. 

The system is technically termed “push delivered data”, not accessible through “an attempted pull”.  This is in direct response to requirements of parishes regarding security and privacy of the data.  The second tier, the Metropolis level, is for managing a Metropolis, gathering information, including but not limited to clergy, organizations, registry, sacrament, Archon, and financial data, and the support and management of many other aspects of a Metropolis.  Clergy data, including tenure and benefits, are specific to this level.  

Thirdly, the Archdiocesan level will cohesively join the components of our Metropolises, Parishes, and our ministries, enabling three-way communication and information flow.  Each level will also support and enhance consistent financial reporting.  We have released the first version of the Metropolis level software suite. 

We are grateful to state that we continue to develop each level, and plan to release the next enhanced versions of Church Office and Ledger late in the third quarter.  These enhancements include key components to aid each parish in ministering to her people, outreach, and communication.  We have also enabled access to a Facilities Scheduler, for mid to large size parishes. 

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Just two examples follow. Saint Mark Church in Boca Raton, Florida was able to transfer parish data software to Church Office (Parish Data System). After short training, office administrators and clergy gained a better understanding of the software. They were enabled to effectively track their steward donor list and can print detailed reports at a moment’s notice, saving thousands of dollars a year communicating via email through PDS, to easily and rapidly customize reports for tracking ministries, fundraisers, parishioner information (i.e. memorials, historical records, sacraments), to simplify the process for bulk mailing, as well as mail merges with  labels, and  to upload the  Church directory  to keep better track of the faithful, as well as utilize the texting component for various ministries and educational programs.

SS Constantine and Helen Church in Cardiff-By-The-Sea, California has been using Parish Data Systems (PDS) for 15 months  and continues to find new features that are immensely helpful to their parish.  Now with PDS all their important information is in one place.  They report that they can easily find addresses and phone numbers, track birth dates, ministry interests, baptisms, weddings, and youth program information. Installing PDS and converting the existing data was very straightforward.  And the church secretary finds the PDS interface very intuitive. 

Leadership 100’s support of this Initiative enables many who would otherwise be unable to participate to be a welcome part of this Ministry.  It enables parish development and growth, creates greater efficiency at the Metropolis level and will help unify reporting up to and including the Archdiocesan level.

Effie Marie Smith

Effie Marie Smith directs the Orthodox Software Initiative as its Senior Manager.  First as a volunteer, and then joining the Initiative fulltime, she has been a key member since its founding.  She joined the Archdiocese in the summer of 2013.  She leads the Ministry and is responsible for all facets of its development and  its offerings to the Archdiocese. 

Smith earned a Master of  Management Engineering from Long Island University (C.W. Post campus), and led international teams in infrastructure, engineering, and operations at major corporations.  She is a global infrastructure and operations leader, who proved to increase operational uptime, steer industry change, drive quality improvements, reduce costs, build teams, and support emerging technologies within secure environments.  She has worked in Fortune 250 and Fortune 500 companies, overseeing service delivery, managing global teams and projects, data center migrations, server management oversight, network planning, disaster recovery planning and testing, and software rollouts.  A few of her accomplishments include industry wide reform in delivery of related market data feeds concurrent with consolidation.  Effie Marie was the first female Engineering Manager for the Canon Americas Systems Support Division.  She has repeatedly applied her efforts in improving service delivery while reducing costs, resulting in significant cost savings, and improvement of hardware, data, and service integrity and reliability. She has also directed operational support teams providing 24 x 365 development, production, and application support for all IT experimental and production systems. 

As she continues to do for the Ministry, Smith works with a broad range of leaders within and external to the enterprise to develop technical architectures that meet key business initiatives and ensure system and business process integrity. 

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