Every time Apple comes out with a new product, people, even those on staff with a church, line up to purchase it the day it's available. They watch the keynote and product videos, read early reviews, and figure out how to squeeze this new tool into their budget.
For those trying to manage their ministry time better, something similar happens with to-do apps. We try out new apps to see which one will solve our time management woes.
New tech products or apps may help as we try to get more done in less time. However, putting a shiny new tool over a broken process isn't a recipe for success.
For example: Let's say you buy a Fitbit to track your steps, calories, and heart rate.
Will you be more aware of how much exercise you are (or are not doing)? Sure.
Will it motivate you to carve out time to prepare healthier meals and exercise more? Maybe.
The tool itself is fine and can be useful. However, if you don't change core habits, it won't help you achieve your goals.
The same principle applies to tools we use at church.
A new church management system (Church Community Builder, Planning Center Online, Fellowship One, etc.), collaboration tool (such as Trello, Basecamp, or Asana), or other technology isn't a quick fix.
In fact, if you start using a new tool without first evaluating your processes, you may end up spending money on a tool you don't need or just failing faster.
Instead of trying the latest tool at Church, try these steps first:
Step #1: Find out what problem you're trying to solve
Our volunteers are not showing up when they signed up to serve.
Staff members are not finishing tasks for a project on time. I feel like I'm always forgetting something I need to do.
Our equipment keeps breaking down.
Step #2: Determine the cause of the problem
Do volunteers forget when they signed up to serve?
Do staff members know the deadline for each task assigned to them?
Are you relying on your memory alone or several scattered to-do lists?
Is the equipment old or does it need regular maintenance performed consistently to stay in working order?
Tip #3: Identify processes you have in-place to address the cause of the problem
When did we start using that process?
Is the process working?
Who knows what the process is supposed to look like? Have we trained staff and volunteers on the process?
Should we change those processes to make them more effective?
Only after you've identified the problem, the cause(s) of the problem and the processes involved is it time to consider potential tools.
Find out if the tools you already have can make the process easier. If not, you might be ready to start searching for a new tool.
It's tempting to buy the latest gadget or app to try to fix an ongoing issue.
However, a better approach that's more likely to work long-term is to deal with the problem, and the supporting processes, before expecting technology to be useful.