5 Tips When Considering an Investment in Technology for Your Church
New cars are a lot of fun. Everything is clean, the car has the smell that can’t quite be explained, and it’s fun to take it on the first drive around town. Who doesn’t love driving a new car? The process of buying a new car, on the other hand, is something that lots of people don’t like. It can be downright stressful. You have the high-pressure sales tactics, all of the overwhelming options, and I still don’t even know what undercoating does for you or why I need it. If you are like most people, buying a car also involves a loan and having to decide how much to spend, how much to put down, and shopping around for a good rate. There are lots of moving pieces to buy a new car. The process is similar to selecting technology for your church. There are lots of ways to approach it and lots of decisions to make along the way.
You may be wondering why a technology company would share how best to select technology. The fact is, we are proud of what we have built. We know that we won’t be the right fit for everyone and we are good with that. There are lots of great solutions out there, and depending on what you are wanting to do, we might not be the best fit. A bigger concern that we have is that people make an informed decision and end up with a solution that helps them accomplish what they set out to do with the new tools. So we encourage you to look around at the options out there. Find the right tools to help your church. Here are just a few ideas of how to begin that search.
Define your goal
If you are looking to make a change of technology, that means you have something that you want to see improvement on. We’ve all heard ‘begin with the end in mind’. This applies to selecting software as well. I would encourage you to have much more than a vague sense of what you would like to see improve. Take the time to sit down and spell out the objectives of the project. Here is a brief outline that we have used in the past that helped us gain clarity on why we were making a change:
- Rationale – What is the business case that justifies this change? What does it help you do better?
- Define the Problem – What is the current problem? Who is experiencing it and how frequently is it an issue?
- Define the harm – What is the consequence of not resolving this issue in the long term? Who is affected by the current status and what is the impact if not addressed in the near term?
- Define the win – How will the proposed solution resolve the issue and how will you measure the success?
- Estimate the cost – Who needs to be involved, what expenses do you anticipate and how much time will it require to make the change?
Build the right team
Once you have a well-defined project, the next step is to assemble the right team of people to help pull it off. Take the time to identify the key stakeholders that need to be in the room when a decision is made. You don’t want too large of a group and everyone is busy, so keep it as small as possible, but don’t leave out the people with influence and authority. There is nothing worse than making a plan and then having it shot down because you didn’t have the right people in the discussion. Another reason this is important is that change is difficult. If the people that have influence over your church’s culture are not bought into the decision, adoption of the new approach may be an uphill battle. Fight that issue upfront by building the right team.
Do your homework
By now you have the key players identified and a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Now you are ready to go out there and do a deep dive into your options. You may have done some early research in the first phase, but now you want to get your hands dirty. The big reason you don’t do the deep dive into the options on the front end is what I like to call the shiny object syndrome. Every system has something that sparkles. Let’s go back to the idea of buying a car. The moonroof is nice, right? But to get the moonroof, you are also buying the upgraded sound system, leather interior, and power locks and windows. If your goal is to buy a car for under a set price, the cool moonroof may be adding $5000 to your price and blow your budget. Doing your homework after you have identified what you want will help you prevent scope creep and stay focused on what you are looking for.
Take your time to decide
Since you resisted the temptation of the shiny new feature that may or may not down the road be used, you can now compare the options you have identified. Hopefully, you used a variety of approaches to identify the options. Google is your friend. Ask the church down the road about their opinion. Check the references of the company you are considering. You will have to live with this decision for a while, so don’t be in a rush to decide, no matter how pushy the sales person is or how ‘special’ the limited time offer is. Another benefit of taking your time is that it allows you to hear the concerns and ideas of the various people on the team. If you are like me, you may be quick on your feet and can make a decision rapidly. This is great because I don’t waste time, but it can also mean that I make the wrong call from time to time. Others might have a slower decision-making process, but they likely also have a higher average of making the right call. Do the demo. Take some time off and then come back as a team next week and talk about your thoughts.
Reinforce the change
Once your decision has been made, it’s time to get behind the new approach. You might not have had a unanimous decision. We usually don’t, but we do agree that once we walk out of the room, we have each other’s back. We don’t all get our way all the time, but we share the same goal. So sometimes that means I throw 110% of energy behind a decision I was only 75% sure of. The reason is that the mission is more important than my dissenting opinion. When I do this, I often find that my 75% confidence in the decision increases to somewhere in the 90%.
At aware3, our desire is that your church is fully equipped to fulfill its unique mission in the world. We have built our tools around a deeply held conviction that the goal of the church is to make disciples. We hope that our technology helps you do that better.
What process do you use when selecting a new technology for your church?