Do you find yourself struggling to keep your church tech team organized? If so, you may need to keep things simple. One way I do this is by tying together some software and apps to create an ecosystem that everyone can access. Things like scheduling people to serve, training new recruits, and making sure everyone understands what’s going on are all important.
I wanted to share some of the ways I keep my lighting crew organized. Each team has various needs and ways of doing things, but we all can use at least a couple of things that I’m going to mention. Plus, the specific tools I mention are free to use. (Score!)
We have many methods of communicating with our team members, but it’s important to establish one method and let that be the primary way you communicate with your team. Why?
Well, let me share what my team uses. We use GroupMe, a chat service. You’ve likely heard of it. I like it because of its accessibility. You have SMS, mobile app, and a web app. Some team members don’t have room to download an app. Or sometimes something is wrong with their phone. The idea here is that it’s a useful service that you can use on the “big three” of screens: computer, tablet, and smartphone. Whatever I want to use with my crew, my first test is finding out where it can be accessed.
Again, the idea is to give your team options while having one central location to communicate with your team.
You also want to have more fluid interactions. If John uses email and Stacy uses SMS, there isn’t a lot of unity and interaction. Bring the team together, even if it’s just for general announcements. Plus, if you need that one-on-one factor, you can send a direct message.
It’s a good idea to have handbooks for your members. I split my team into three sub-teams: Lighting Designers, Lighting Technicians, and Lighting Electricians. I have a handbook for each. The handbooks go over things specific to their roles and tasks. I also have a general handbook for all members. Things like terminology, safety procedures, discipline, and more are in there.
What this does is allow you to easily train new people and give them a reference point for any questions they have. It allows everybody to know their role and help avoid confusion. It’s hard in the beginning to write everything out, but in the long run, these books keep everybody in order.
Earlier, I talked about my team having designers, technicians, and electricians. In all, there are 10 positions on the crew. Each position is there for a purpose. A couple of them are training spots. But, mainly, it helps prevent one person from doing too much. With the workload evenly spread, it allows you to better manage and delegate tasks. You have a group of people for a particular task. Need a new design for Easter? Designer team. Need to rig the equipment and operate it? Technicians. Need to make sure power is stable? Electricians.
What I have found in lighting is that there are a lot of jobs to be done, and so many people of different skill sets are needed. This adds a neat bonus of allowing people to better exercise their skill set. In lighting, you can be an artist or a geek and still contribute in a powerful way.
Team Management Software
Having some sort of web or desktop app that allows you to run your team from anywhere is important. Example: My team uses Slack. Slack allows us to keep track of things like documents, videos, articles, brainstorming, projects, and more.
Like GroupMe, you go for accessibility. You want your team members to be able to use the service on the screen they want. You also want something user-friendly.
Let me add this: How often have you sent an email with an important attachment, only to have that person tell you they can’t see the email or accidently deleted it? Exactly. Let the software hold onto it. Does your crewmember need to review a document? What about that video? Still there. You now have a place where you can keep track of your tech team while sort of filtering it out from other things in your life.
And yes, I recommend using software over email.
OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive are a few services that you are free to use for storing team documents. If you’re comfortable, you can create a generic account for all members to access documents. Maybe you keep your more private work separate. But things like the handbook is something you want everyone to be able to grab.
What this does, similar to the team management software, is allow you to store those docs in one place. If you have a computer problem, all you need is another screen to pick up where you left off. Nothing is lost.
So those are the main ways I keep everything organized. The hardest part of this will be establishing it. But, for your sake, get the team on board with something. What are some tools you use for your tech team?