The fundamental issue is this. Leadership doesn’t understand what IT does, and when it comes to additional resource requests, your request competes with other requests they do understand and perhaps value even more. They aren’t going to become fluent in IT, so you need other ways to make clear the contribution IT makes and communicate the benefits of what your want to do. Here are some ways to do this.
Know your church’s IT history and current problems/needs and focus on solving problems that impact ministry and staff
Know how your IT resourcing compares with other churches of similar size and characteristics
Obtain actual quotes from 3rd parties for doing what your staff does (in whole or in part)
Understand the cost of doing what you do using other means: technology, outsourcing, other services
So, here is a snapshot of how I used these when I took on IT at my current church.
History and Situation: The church had a dedicated IT person up to 5 years before I took over. Then they added other responsibilities to that person’s job description. By the time I was asked to take over, performance and reliability of their computer systems was the #1 complaint of staff.
I focused on those current problems, but not JUST solving those problems, I also used them to educate church leadership on how we got there. I got approval to put together a Technology Task Force made up of people on staff and in the congregation that had the expertise to work on these problems and make recommendations. In this church’s culture as well as the denomination they belonged, both value committees. So I was playing into the church culture. I made sure my boss, the church Executive Pastor was on the team. Not so much for his expertise as much as his buy-in. He got to see first hand the depth we studied the problem, investigated alternative solutions, and evaluated the alternatives taking into account factors that mattered most to the church.
At the end of about 7 months, we recommended and the church board approved a capital investment that went way beyond anything they had ever done before.
Could I have put together a recommendation myself in less time and resources? Yes, I could. Would it have been approved? I don’t think it had a chance. But even if it did, the long term effects of that effort are HUGE. Now when I make a recommendation it gets approved. I have a track record of understanding the problem, the alternatives, and choosing the best path. They also asked me to transform the Tech Task Force to the Capital Spending Management Team. For the last 5 years this team I lead effectively makes all the capital spending plans for the church each year and oversee the implementation of those projects. Technically, we are a ‘recommending’ committee to our church board. But the fact is they’ve never changed a single recommendation we’re made and no one but us oversees their implementation.
It’s all about building trust by showing you can and should be trusted.