Looking for ideas to better innovate and leverage technology at our church


(Philip Havens) #1

I realize this is a very vague statement, but I’m not sure how else to begin a discussion along these lines. Maybe a bit of background information will help.

We are a church with a main campus and two smaller community-based campuses of about 1500 weekly attendance combined. Four Sat/Sun services at the main campus and one Sun service at each of the other two campuses. We are primarily a Mac environment; Office 365; SharePoint; OneDrive; Microsoft servers for some file storage; main campus wifi for staff, volunteers, and guests; CCB for church, event, building management; an out-of-date website being transitioned this year to a new mobile-friendly platform; use Aware3 app for some mobile features; client-server version of Shelby for financials (also transitioning this year to a new platform); Iwatsu VOIP phone system on main campus; etc.

So it seems we have a lot going on, but I am looking for other ideas that we could use to be better at leveraging what we already have to serve more effectively and efficiently. Oh, and I am the only IT resource, working full-time to support about 50 full and part-time staff. We have a part-time staffer that supports CCB. We also do have a full-time staffer working to support all of the Worship Arts AV & Lighting on the main campus.
Thank you.
Philip Havens
IT Director


(Jonathon Huff) #2

Hi Philip-

One thing I have found that is helpful is to meet with ministry leaders or teams and learn some of their workflows and processes. Sometimes, we already have a technology solution in place or available the ministry leaders aren’t aware of. I found our bulletin team was copying the word document many times for each draft so they didn’t lose their version history, but once I demonstrated version history in OneDrive/SharePoint it changed how they worked. Since I knew all the technologies we had available it was as simple as me observing and coming alongside the ministry teams.

I hope that helps!

Jonny


(Russ Taylor) #3

Where I work, we are a bicycle recycling charity that is Mac-based like you, but much smaller, with a wide range of bits of software that are used in the organisation. We have been struggling with how to knit everything together properly, so reached out to an IT support charity for help. They have provided us with a couple of volunteer business & IT analysts who have started mapping out everything we do, which is really helpful. It is helping us understand who actually does what, who interacts with who and where things are not working so well. This means we can target where we can develop the IT to improve what the organisation does.
Maybe it is worth reaching out into the congregation for help from any business analysts you have. You might find some fresh insight into what you already have going on. It is certainly starting to show benefits for us already.


(Isaac Johnson) #4

Fully leveraging the nifty cloud stuff MS gives cheap/free is worthwhile: AAD, Intune, AIP, ATP, Defender ATP, etc.


(Mark Simmons) #5

All you entrepreneurs out there, listen up, because most of this is largely untapped needs.

The Great Commission is all about “making disciples”, but our current ChMS systems are close to AWOL at providing a way to track how we are doing as a church along that mission statement.

Attendance/participation/involvement our ChMS systems do some of this, but it is currently pretty clumsy, time consuming, and error prone. There is some technology that involves being able to use cell phone GPS to check-in. That is a step in the right direction.

We also need systems on the other side. Those that direct people to the next step. But they need a major relational component too. Everything we know says that that is what works best. Assimilation paths, discipleship assessments and paths. Stuff like that.

Facility usage and maintenance should be tied together. When maintenance is needed and when it can be done is tied to usage and schedules in many cases. A similar path would be helpful for IT. I’ve personally experienced a relationship between when Macs slow down and start having problems as related to usage and type of usage. Is there any system to help me with that? Not that I’ve found. There are dozens of things like that. UPS systems and battery replacements. Lighting systems. Emergency first aid kits, testing, spill kits, emergency lighting, network infrastructure.

Today most of this is done manually, piece meal, in disparate, or ad hoc ways…if they are done at all. Yet the power and productivity of an integrated approach is compelling.


(Norman Ho) #6

When I was the IT Manager at my church (about 250 staff) before moving on to Ministry work, one of the biggest satisfaction was creating a culture through training and peer support to do calendaring as a whole using Exchange/Outlook with room/venue reservations and sharing their personal calendars with one another. The project greatly improved communications and work efficiency. Each staff just needs to update their own calendars which is then shared with or without timeslot details throughout the organisation.

Another big win was introducing Corporate Instant Messaging (Lync) where it really cut down on email comms and got the staff collaborating more. I would suggest introducing Microsoft Teams since you are using O365.

Another suggestion is to look at introducing Information Rights Management in O365. This will take away the challenges of password protecting all your digital documents and having problems when a staff leaves. Also reduces the risk of your sensitive emails going viral. Instead of passwords, the staff just needs to remember his/her AD credentials (sync with O365) for most access.


(Isaac Johnson) #7

“Another suggestion is to look at introducing Information Rights Management in O365”

^Totally this, especially given churches and nonprofits are becoming bigger targets for breaches, but you can and probably should do Azure Information Protection (AIP) instead of IRM these days. :sunglasses:


(Norman Ho) #8

Yes I thought introducing the name Azure Information Protection might
confuse some. :wink: Traditional the concept is usually named Rights Management.

With Blessings,

Norman Ho


(Philip Havens) #9

Thank you Jonathon, it does help.


(Philip Havens) #10

Thank you for the suggestions Norman. I appreciate the ideas.