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Making the Switch to New Church Management Software

How do you successfully make the change to a new church management software program and still have a happy team? Here are three tips to implement for a smooth process.

If your current church management software isn't working for your church and you've decided to make a change, there's much more involved than just converting data to a new system.  Even if everyone on your team hates the current software, there's still going to be some resistance to change.  New software involves learning a new program, possibly changing processes, and the usual implementation headaches.  They might all agree that change is necessary, but you still may deal with frustrations along the way.  So, how do you have a successful implementation and a happy team?  Here are a few tips:

Tip #1: Identify key influencers

Who within your staff or key volunteers has the most influence?  This isn't always the person "at the top."  These individuals are those whom your staff and volunteers listen to and whose opinion they value.  You know if they like this new software and are champions of the changes required in implementation, that the rest of the team will follow suit.  Once you've identified these influencers, get them involved in the selection and implementation planning process.  Once they're on-board and like the new system, they'll be your best champions in getting the team to change.

Tip #2: Don't change everything all at once

Most ChMS applications have multiple modules you can implement separately (giving, check-in, event registration, facilities, etc.).  Whenever you can, change over to a single aspect of the new ChMS at a time.  For example, you might migrate contact information and start using childcare check-in, but wait a few weeks before using the online profile aspects of the system.  Too much change at once, even good change, can be overwhelming.  A phased approach gives your team time to learn the new system gradually.  This approach also gives you the flexibility to work out any "bugs" in the process one module at a time.

Tip #3: Invite feedback along the way

Ask your staff, volunteers, and congregation to provide you with feedback about the new system as you rollout new functionality.  You need to know 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 requested changes, let everyone know you made the change as a result of their feedback.  This communicates that you're listening and taking action on their requests. 

Changing a significant tool such as your church management software isn't an easy endeavor, so you need your team to fully support the new direction.  By involving key influencers early on, running a phased implementation, and inviting feedback, you should have a much smoother changeover to the new software.


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