Whether you’re starting to use church management software (ChMS) for the first time or switching from a previous vendor, there’s a lot that goes into a successful implementation. One area that people tend to overlook is how to make the change more manageable and less stressful. Even if everyone on your team hates the current software, you’ll still experience some resistance to change.

New software involves learning a new program, changing processes, and the typical implementation headaches. While everyone may agree that change is necessary, they might still get frustrated along the way.

So, how do you have a successful implementation and a happy team? Here are a few tips:

Tip No. 1: Fix processes first

One trap that many people fall into is thinking that a new tool will fix all their problems. Unfortunately, even the fanciest and most expensive ChMS can’t correct a broken process. Before you evaluate potential ChMS options, examine the processes you would perform within a new tool.

Here are a few examples of the types of processes to review:

  • First-time guest follow-up
  • Baptism requests
  • Hospital visitation requests and follow-up
  • Small group signup

If these processes aren’t functioning well now, fix that issue first. Decide how you want it to work manually, then consider how a ChMS could help you automate aspects of each process.

Tip No. 2: Get buy-in from influencers

Who within your staff or key volunteers has the most influence? This isn’t always the person in charge of a department. These influencers are people that staff and volunteers listen to and whose opinion they value.

Once you’ve identified these influencers, get them involved in the ChMS selection and implementation process. Once you have their buy-in, they’ll be your best champions in getting the team to change.

Tip No. 3: Change gradually

Most ChMS tools have multiple modules you can implement separately (giving, check-in, event registration, facilities, etc.). Whenever possible, start using a single aspect of the new ChMS at a time. You’ll have to start with the core component of the ChMS, which is the member/contact database.

However, from that point, you could use childcare check-in and recording the offering at first. Too much change at once, even good change, can be overwhelming. A phased approach gives your team a chance 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 No. 4: Request feedback at each step

Ask your staff, volunteers, and congregation to provide you with feedback about the new system. Find out 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 due to 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 fixing processes, involving key influencers early on, running a phased implementation, and inviting feedback, you should have a much smoother changeover to the new software.