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Computer Questions for Ministry Growth Series
Is Your Ministry Data Treated as a Corporate Asset ?
Assets are things we value, maintain, protect, and put to use. There are many different kinds of assets in a ministry, one of the most often overlooked assets is the "information" asset.
Consider the following abbreviated story, the version from which this is derived was told to me by the consultant who experienced it.
The consultant assisted the ministry in getting the applications, workstations, servers and local-area-network working. He noticed that there were often young people (especially teens since they were a focus of the ministry) present in the office area, sometimes using the computers.
He recommended to the ministry directors they have him come back on an expense-only basis (airfare and hotel costs) to apply rigorous access control (with usernames, passwords etc) to protect the ministry's information. They declined, saying it was too expensive.
A while later he received a newsletter with a large picture on the front page of the newly-constructed bus barn built to protect the bus from the weather and vandals.
Have you recognized the value of information in your ministry ?
Have you committed the time (for all the staff) specifically to maintain the accuracy of your data ?
We often recognize the need to train people in the use of equipment or vehicles, but just assume they can ‘absorb' the processes for properly handling our ministry information. Perhaps we think
"word of mouth" exposure is sufficient to carry forward the initial training we had in the use of the database or other application. That should remind us of the
"telephone game" where the message gets garbled by the time it reaches the last person. Perhaps a garbled message in a game is funny, but garbled information can be damaging to a ministry.
Formalized training sessions not only provide uniformity and coverage of content, they also reinforce the value we place on the information in the ministry.
Have you allocated time for ongoing training in the best use of your ministry's data ?
Assets also entail "ownership". There is usually not much argument to the claim
"the ministry's assets belong to the ministry" (when contrasted to personal ownership). Sometimes, however, the operational reality does not align itself with this understanding.
Ownership can be a "sticky" or "prickly" topic since it involves issues of control, self-importance, and expressions like "I am the only one here who does this so nobody else ...".
Are there staff members that appear to "own" some of your ministry's data / information ?
Aside from legal requirements, one reason we incorporate ministries is to give them a "life" of their own; a persistence over time and across the coming-and-going of people; an existence that has, in some part, an independence from people.
Will your ministry continue as itself even as new staff arrive and old staff leave
Have you incorporated procedures that help the team to continue with new members ?
Can the ministry identity can be separated from and survive beyond the founder(s) ?
A corporate asset builds up the ministry (corporation) and enables it to perform certain functions. Ministry information carries the knowledge and much of the style of a ministry through time. Although it is often wise to limit access to some assets (or parts thereof), ownership - - with all the implications - - needs to be ascribed to the ministry.
Have you documented your ministry-specific procedures for entering and updating data
Or, is that in the head of only one "indispensable" person ?
Have you created a "common store" for the ministry information ?
Have you made the ministry information store accessible to most if not all staff ?
Or, is your data "here and there" in fragments all over the ministry ?
Have you connected the flow of ministry activity with the ministry database
Does the data reflect the reality of your ministry ?
A key activity in ministry is building and maintaining relationships with constituents. This is accomplished through communications that depend upon information, including the commitments made between the ministry and the constituents.
Are you using the ministry information to assist your communications ?
Are you using the ministry information system to help you keep your commitments ?
Does this apply to your ministry as a whole ?
To learn more or to arrange for assistance, see the Contact Page.
(c) 2006 David McQuoid
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