In 2013, a field team in North Africa, working collaboratively with a coalition of various organizations and nationalities, began to develop a CRM (customer relationship manager) in a proprietary software gifted to them through their organization. That software was extremely modular and allowed them to develop a system that served most of the needs of their nationwide media-to-movement initiative without much need for technical development.
However, other field teams, disciple makers, and organizations saw the system they built and wanted to use it for their disciple making movement efforts as well. The proprietary nature of the software they were using prevented them from giving the tool away to others. Additionally, the coalition that the team served began to outgrow the collaborative nature of the tool as they stored thousands of records while partnering with over a hundred disciple makers. Security became a significant issue.
The team saw the need for a software specifically designed for disciple and church multiplication movements that any field team could use. The idea for Disciple.Tools was born.
When we began to build a field-based software solution for disciple and church multiplication movements we looked to see what CRM solutions already existed in the marketplace. We knew if the tool was going to meet the unique needs of field teams all over the world it needed to be:
We surveyed 147 CRMs hoping a suitable solution already existed. We had two key criteria:
1 – Can this system be deployed at minimal cost?
2 – Can this system be launched and run by low tech people?
Ultimately, our question was, could a field team or house church of national believers deploy and sustain the solution by themselves (independent of us or any other organization)?
We surveyed 147 CRMs in the marketplace.
Most commercial solutions were disqualified on cost. A small team might be able to afford $30 per person per month (the average cost for commercial CRMs), but how would a coalition of 100 people pay $3000 a month? What about 1000 people? Growth would strangle these solutions. Even discounted rates through 501c3 programs were vulnerable to revocation or inaccessible to nationals.
The few remaining open source CRMs in the marketplace, would require an enormous amount of reconfiguration and customization to be useful for disciple making. It was definitely not something a small disciple making team could do without special skills.
So as we looked at potential, widely available platforms to make a custom CRM for disciple making, we landed on WordPress, arguably the world’s most successful and widely adopted, open source project for the average person. One-third of internet sites run on WordPress. It’s in every country and its usage is only growing.
So we started.