"Having a well planned, forward-looking roadmap that is well communicated is essential to earning trust with those who will sign off on your budget."
"We're sorry, but we need to cut your budget by another 10 percent."
"Is this purchase request a need or a want?"
"Didn't we just buy one of these last year?"
Sound familiar? It's not always easy to communicate to those outside the tech world about changes and needs in technology. So, budgeting for your church can be difficult.
"We'd like to install CAT5 network cable and run audio over IP, most likely Dante or AVB. We will connect the console directly to a snake with a single run and give each performer a personal mixer and wireless IEMs." To the technical folks, this makes sense. To the less technically inclined, it may as well be Klingon or Greek.
Having a well planned, forward-looking roadmap that is well communicated is essential to earning trust with those who will sign off on your budget.
Evaluate what you will need as your church grows in the next five years. Make sure you are looking at both technology and staffing. Will you be adding another campus? That will mean multiple teams and twice the equipment. Will your youth group need an upgrade? Will you add services?
The reason we look ahead is not to get things in the budget now, but to plan smart growth as we develop the roadmap.
DESIGN A ROADMAP
Roadmaps enable you to make smart decisions now that will benefit you in the future.
Let's say your church plans to grow over five years from 500 to 2,000 people across two campuses. You will share technical staff across campuses and would like to train youth apprentices to fill in. How can you build a roadmap to two campuses that reflects good stewardship of money and people?
You might start with a Midas M32 console, a Dante network card and Livemix personal monitors (supporting up to 16 musicians for under $10,000). As the youth department grows, install a Behringer X32 with the same operating system as the M32. Now, you are training people on a single "system." By using Dante, you can expand to networked speakers, amplifiers, microphones (and more in the coming years), and be ahead of technology rather than behind it. More importantly, you are expanding your system, not replacing it.
Need more horsepower? Use a Yamaha CL-series in the main campus and a Yamaha QL1 for the expansion. As that campus grows, replace the Yamaha QL1 with a Yamaha CL3 and the QL1 goes to the youth. Now you have multiple systems that operate the same and any of the trained staff or volunteers can show up to any of the three venues and know the equipment.
These are the types of flexible details to include in your strategic roadmap.
Now that you have a plan and a roadmap for the next five years, it's time to communicate that plan. Give stakeholders solid reasons for your expenditures. Explain why the acquisitions represent good stewardship.
Translate the technical needs into the benefits they represent. For example:
Reducing the overall stage volume and clutter will lead to more engagement.
Lowering stage volume will mean reduced house volume.
Expanding via a digital network is less expensive than replacing hardware.
Establishing a consistency in hardware and software across campuses will mean reductions in training time and volunteer stress.
When evaluating your technical and tech staffing needs, look ahead so you steward the present as well as the future. Spend time developing relationships with the decision makers before a need arises. Often, if you listen well enough, you will hear them asking for the same things you see a need for, just expressed in a different way.
LUKE VETTEL is customer relations manager for Digital Audio Labs (digitalaudio.com). He is an original development team member for the Livemix personal monitor system and leads volunteer worship and AV technology teams.