The most significant step a church can take to ensure that it enjoys the maximum value and utility from its Church Management Software investment is to provide resources for a designated “ChMS Champion.” Nothing will increase the likelihood of success with ChMS software more than this one move, but some key concepts must be observed to make it work. In this post, we will discuss the four indispensable roles of the ChMS Champion and one big warning. We also provide several elements that we suggest for inclusion in a Champion’s job description.
4 Indispensable Roles of the ChMS Champion
The ChMS Champion is a vital role and carries with it numerous responsibilities. These responsibilities fall into four primary facets of the overall role. All of them are important, and all of them must be addressed intentionally. Below, we describe these four roles in summary fashion.
The Champion will encourage adoption of the software by demonstrating clearly, with church-specific ministry process examples, how the ChMS can support ministry, enhance communication, and save time. The Champion will also provide ongoing education as to ChMS functionality and will ensure that users have the resources they need to use the software effectively.
The Champion will be in constant communication with the staff, leaders, members, and any other stakeholder to understand the evolving ministry requirements dictated by the Church’s vision, strategy, and growth. The Champion will then help all involved to make the connection between the ministry requirements and the specific ChMS capabilities. The Champion will also ensure that other systems or processes fill any requirements “gaps.” The Champion will take the lead in working with the ChMS company to facilitate any necessary integrations with other systems.
The Champion will have an exhaustive knowledge of the entire system and will know more about the ChMS than any functional department leaders or individual users. As the resident “expert,” they will be able to assist users with ChMS support questions that arise. While all of the leading ChMS companies sell support subscriptions, the onsite Champion is often positioned to respond more quickly and successfully to special support requests due to their familiarity with a church specific process and the user involved.
The Champion’s global view of the entire ChMS system will position the Champion to provide user-specific training and ensure that everyone is aware of and can successfully utilize the features that will assist them to accomplish their specific ministry functions. The Champion will also coordinate ongoing department-specific training so that each ministry team member becomes an expert in the ChMS for their area. As new versions or features are released, the Champion will ensure that all affected ministry teams stay current and proficient. The Champion will also be the primary point of contact with the ChMS software vendor.
One Big Warning
While designating a ChMS Champion is vital, the biggest mistake that church can make is centralizing ALL the knowledge, training and resources in one solitary Champion. You may be asking, “What? Isn’t that exactly what you have been advocating throughout this entire post?” Well, no, not exactly. If ALL the knowledge, training and responsibility ends up in one person’s hands, the church is left in an awful situation if that ChMS Champion leaves, is on vacation, or is no longer able to or interested in performing that role. Moreover, in some cases, staff members will be less likely to use the ChMS if they see it as “someone else’s tool that I am being asked to use.”
We still feel it is essential to have one designated ChMS Champion for the church. However, the church should position the ChMS Champion as the leader of a ChMS Champions Team made up of other departmental champions as well. The departmental champions group is comprised of a point person from each ministry who will be responsible for the ChMS functionality in their specific ministry area. The departmental champions work together with the ChMS Champion to share knowledge, establish processes and standards, and promote consistent use of the ChMS tools.
As these team members communicate on a regular basis, they develop a stronger understanding of data requirements, opportunities for integration and more significant commitment to the ChMS as a primary technology tool for ministry. The ChMS Champion can then focus on serving the individual department champions, providing knowledge, training, support and assistance as needed. And, if the ChMS Champion departs, the departmental champions can carry on effectively until the church finds a replacement.
The Most Powerful Move You Can Make
Designating a ChMS Champion and a ChMS Champions Team will do more to ensure your success with your ChMS than any other single operational step you can take. It will require an ongoing commitment of resources, focus, training, and effort, but in light of the investment in your ChMS and the value to be derived, it is a stewardship move that will reward you many times over.
For those grappling with how to implement the ChMS Champion role, we offer the following foundational elements as the beginning of a ChMS Champion job description.
- Recommend and advocate consistent adherence to best practices for church data and contacts.
- Explore ways the database can provide church leadership with benchmarks and feedback that help measure the success criteria dictated by the mission of the church.
- Develop ongoing training and use of the database by church staff and appropriate volunteer leaders.
- Serve as liaison for the church with the ChMS provider.
- Monitor and report critical indications of congregational involvement and feedback with recommended policy/practice changes to church leadership and participate in planning decisions.
- Perform beta testing of new software features and communicate/train appropriate stakeholders on new features or changes.
- Build reports and spreadsheets as necessary and when requested.
- Field congregation requests for access to or removal from the database – “watch the back door”
- Ensure the integration of other software with the database – for example: Protect My Ministry, Planning Center Online
- Monitor database functionality and assist with technical troubleshooting.
- Attend appropriate ChMS meetings for continued learning and networking.