Church management software (ChMS) can be an incredible tool for supporting ministry efforts. Whether you’re implementing a ChMS for the first time or migrating to a different one, you’ll need to include transitioning church staff to a new ChMS in your to-do list.
As much time and effort as you’ll put into getting member data into the new ChMS, creating workflows, and setting up forms, you need to invest time in making sure church staff is ready for the new system. Even if you’re switching from a tool that’s universally hated by the team, you may still get some resistance to this change. A new ChMS requires people to learn the new system, change their processes, and deal with the usual implementation challenges. While implementing this new ChMS may be the best option, users may still get annoyed with the initial work required to make the switch.
Here’s how to make this process as painless (and successful) as possible:
#1 – Address Process Issues
Unfortunately, even the most robust ChMS tool can’t fix a broken process. Before you select a ChMS, review the processes you’ll need to perform within that new system.
Here are some standard processes to review:
- Capturing first-time guest information
- Receiving requests for baby dedications
- Hospital visitation requests and follow-up
- Children’s Check-in
- Small group signup
If these processes aren’t functioning well today, consider whether the current ChMS or the process is the issue. Document how the process should work regardless of ChMS, then consider how a ChMS could help you facilitate each process.
#2 – Get Influencers to Buy-In
While the Senior Pastor or Executive Pastor likely gets the final word on which ChMS to purchase, some individuals can heavily influence the implementation’s success (or failure).
Think about which staff members or key volunteers have significant influence. This isn’t always the person leading a department. These influencers are individuals that staff and volunteers listen to and whose opinion they respect. As you identify the influencers, request their participation in the ChMS selection and implementation process. When they’re heavily involved in this effort, you’ll benefit from their input and they’ll likely be advocates for the new system.
#3 – Introduce Changes Incrementally
Many ChMS tools include multiple modules you can implement separately (giving, check-in, event registration, facilities, etc.). Determine whether you can implement one or two aspects of the new ChMS at a time. The first component will have to be the member/contact database since everything else feeds off that part of the system. From there, you could use childcare check-in and recording the offering.
Too much simultaneous change, even good change, can be difficult to manage. An incremental approach gives staff and volunteers the opportunity to learn the new system gradually. Additionally, this method provides you with the flexibility to work out any “bugs” in the process one module at a time.
#4 – Invite Feedback
Proactively request input from staff, volunteers, and the congregation regarding the new system. Ask them what’s working, what isn’t, what they like, and what they dislike. As you receive this input, make whatever changes are appropriate (and possible). When you implement the requested changes, let everyone know you made the change due to their feedback. This communicates that you’re listening and taking action on their requests.
The effort to implement church management software isn’t easy, so you’ll need everyone involved to be all-in on making it a success. Take the time to work through these tips as you’re transitioning church staff to a new ChMS.