How to select project management software for your church
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Online project management software such as Asana, Basecamp, Trello and others can make coordinating tasks for events, communications projects and more a bit easier. However, there's often some frustration and disappointment that happens once a church staff starts using the tool:
"Why aren’t we more efficient now?" or "Why won't the whole staff use the tool (and stop emailing me or dropping by my desk to ask about the status of a task)?"
Those issues probably have much more to do about the underlying processes and less to do with the tool.
Here’s the deal ...
We often, unintentionally, expect a new tool to fix broken processes. No matter how many features the tool has, how much you paid for it or how "cutting edge" it's supposed to be, it still won't work for your team if you don't have a suitable process in place.
Let's say you want to use Asana to help your communications team put tasks into a central location, assign someone to each task, add notes about the tasks and send email reminders about upcoming tasks.
Before you sign up for Asana and start adding projects, consider how your staff currently receives, manages and completes communications projects:
- Do you have a standard form for people to fill out that gives your communications team the information they need to get started?
- How does your team schedule and prioritize requests?
- Who decides what gets announced at each service? How do you get that information to that person and a decision back?
- Will you make flyers to post around campus? If so, who will create those and who approves when/where they'll be posted? Who handles printing? Who posts the flyers?
I could keep going, but you get the idea. Notice I haven't addressed any 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:
- Create an outline of your current process (whether you think it works well or not, just write down how it works now).
- Meet with your team and have them review your process outline. They may have some changes based on what's happening on a detailed level. That's another reason why documenting the process is helpful — it gets everyone on the same page.
- Ask the team what they think should change about the current process.
- Write up the proposed new process and run it by other departments/individuals who will be impacted by that change. Keep updating it until you get something you think will work well.
- Use the process for a few weeks without adding project management software into the mix. Work out any issues, update the process documentation, then create a list of what aspects of the process you'd like a tool to help make more effective.
Once you have an effective process and know what you want out of an online project management tool, then start reviewing options.
One easy way to start comparing options is to visit Capterra.com. You can select up to four tools and 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 project management software companies offer a free trial. Take advantage of that opportunity and have a few people use the tool for that period. See if you like the tool and if it helps you manage your processes more efficiently.
Once you find one your team will use and that they find helpful, start rolling it out to more people. Make sure you explain why you're asking them to use a new tool. Help everyone understand how this will make their job easier.
Provide training and be prepared to answer lots of questions in the first few weeks. Don't expect everyone to fall in love with the new tool on day one. It may take a while for some to see the benefits. Be persistent, provide more training and respond quickly to their questions.
Yes, this approach will take more time up front. 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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