How to make a project management tool work for your church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Project management tools such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and others can be useful in helping church teams plan events and manage projects.
Many church leaders select a tool and excitedly roll it out to their teams hoping this will make their projects immediately run smoother and finish on time. Unfortunately, there’s often a level of disappointment that happens once a church staff starts using the tool.
Why isn’t this making communication easier?
Why won’t the whole staff use the tool?
Those issues probably have nothing to do with the tool and everything to do with the process.
Here’s the deal: You can’t put a shiny new tool over a broken process and expect miracles.
No matter how many features the tool has, how much it cost, or how "cutting edge" it’s supposed to be, it won’t work if you don’t have good processes in place.
For example: Let’s say you’re considering using Asana to plan events. You’ll enter the tasks for every event, assign each task, add notes about the tasks, send email reminders about upcoming tasks, etc.
Before you sign up for Asana and start adding tasks, consider this:
How does your staff currently plan events?
- Do you have a standard form for people to fill out that includes the basic information about an event (name, date, ticket price, location)?
- Who receives that form and what does that person do with the information?
- Who’s responsible for planning each event and coordinating all tasks?
- How do team members update the status of each task?
Notice that this list doesn’t address any special software features. If you don’t already have the answers to these questions, that’s where you should start before you evaluate any online tools.
Here's how to document your process:
Step No. 1 — Document how things work today
Outline your church’s current process (whether you think it works well or not –write down what IS).
Step No. 2 — Confirm (or correct) the process documentation
Meet with your team to review the documentation and see if they agree that what you’ve written down matches how they think things currently work.
You may be surprised by where you have disagreements or different understandings. That’s another reason why documenting the process is helpful — it gets everyone on the same page.
Step No. 3 — Get feedback
Ask the team what they think should change about the current process.
Step No. 4 — Update the process
Write up the proposed new process and run it by those who’ll be impacted by that change. Adjust it further until you get something you think will be more efficient.
Step No. 5 — Try it out
Use the process for a few weeks without adding a planning tool. Work out any issues, update the process documentation, then create a list of what steps you’d like a tool to help make more effective.
Once you have a good process and you know what you want out of an online project management tool, then it makes sense to start reviewing options.
One quick way to start comparing options is to visit Capterra.com. You can select up to four tools to compare key features side-by-side. That will help you narrow down the options. Next, visit the website of each vendor to get a better idea of what each offers.
Most of the software providers offer a free trial. Sign up for the free trial and have two or three people use the tool for that time period. Get their feedback on whether it has the features you want and whether it helps you manage your process more efficiently.
Once you find one your team will use, roll it out to more people. Make sure you explain why you’re asking them to use a new tool. Help each person understand how this tool will make their job easier and how it will save them time and stress.
Provide training and be prepared to answer lots of questions in the first few weeks. Don't expect everyone to like the new tool right away.
It may take a while for some to see the benefits. Be persistent, provide more training, and respond quickly to their questions.
This approach will take more time upfront. However, by documenting your process and identifying how you’d like to use a project management tool you greatly increase your chances of selecting the best one for your team.
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