Arena communications plan

Subtitle: "Another lesson in how difficult it is to communicate effectively"

Regular readers of this blog know that Church of the Resurrection went live on the Arena church management system earlier this week.  Travis (the project manager) and I knew that frequent and effective communication would be critical for the success of such a large project impacting all staff.  We developed and executed what I think is a model plan not only for selecting and implementing a church management system, but also for keeping the staff informed throughout the process.  The below outline shows the many ways, times, and occasions on which we communicated to large numbers of staff regarding the project and the status.

  • 8/23/07 – Project kick-off meeting.  Key staff from every department present.  All executive management present and supportive.
  • 8/24 – 9/21/07 – Requirements gathering meetings held with each department.
  • 9/6/07 – Project overview presentation at quarterly all staff lunch meeting.
  • 11/15/07 – Selection of Arena announced in Staff Chapel and subsequent all staff e-mail.
  • 1/10/08 – Implementation kick-off meeting.  All staff invited.  Arena demonstrated.  Go live date of 5/6/08 announced.
  • 1/29 – 2/14/08 – Arena functionality and design review meetings held with each department.
  • 2/7/08 – Arena demo presentation at quarterly all staff lunch meeting.  Go live date of 5/6/08 announced.
  • 3/13/08 – Arena training plan announced at monthly senior staff meeting. 50 training classes to be held over a 5-week period immediately prior to go-live.
  • 3/21/08 – All staff e-mail stating that all Shelby users need to take Arena training, with a link to review class schedules and sign up.
  • 3/17 – 4/28/08 – Once per week all staff announcement promoting Arena with reminders about training classes and go live date.
  • 4/10/08 – Staff Chapel and all staff e-mail announcement reminding people to sign up for training.
  • 5/1/08 – Staff Chapel and all staff e-mail announcement about the scheduled Shelby outage, Arena go-live, and go-live party on 5/6/08.
  • 5/6/08 – All staff e-mail announcement that Arena is live.  First sentence of second paragraph: "Starting now, you will use Shelby only for Financials, Check-in, and Contributions (Check-in and Contributions will be moved to Arena later this year)."

Looks like a solid plan, huh?  Help desk ticket received this afternoon:

I am not able to access ShelbyEZ. I don’t know if I have forgotten my login name and password or what? I think it use to automatically connect..? Could you please let me know what my information is to access it? Thanks.

In response I sent the following e-mail to this person’s supervisor:

Apparently after 9+ months of heavy communication about the Next Generation Church Management System and Arena, [this manager-level staff person] still isn’t aware that we aren’t using Shelby any more. 

What lessons do you draw from this?

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7 thoughts on “Arena communications plan

  1. chms May 9, 2008 / 10:47 pm

    Clif:I would love to have a chance to talk with you or Travis on your Arena implementation. I am looking at a July go live date and after seeing your list of items I wonder if we are truly ready.

  2. chms May 9, 2008 / 10:50 pm

    Sorry, I realized I did not leave any contact info on the last post. My e-mail is chris dot ockerman at wardchurch dot org.

  3. thoughtsofresurrection May 10, 2008 / 11:03 am

    My response – wow.You cannot over communicate.Perhaps this applies particularly to staff!Andrew Conard

  4. Kirk Longhofer May 10, 2008 / 3:06 pm

    It is not possible to “over-communicate”… although you can “over-detail,” and that will actually decrease your communication’s effectiveness.And not matter what you do…you will still get the help desk ticket you received.

  5. BV May 13, 2008 / 1:30 pm

    If you are still using Shelby for checkin and finances, what are you entering into Arena?

  6. Clif Guy May 14, 2008 / 6:56 pm

    Arena comes with 2-way database triggers that permit running both systems in parallel. Hence we are able to delay check in and contributions until later this year when Arena delivers needed functionality.

  7. Kevin May 28, 2008 / 11:09 am

    “Senior Management” – this just proves what I say is a definition for ManagerManager – clueless person that makes decisionsA Shelby to F1 back to Shelby, now looking at Arena user.

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