Churches and middle governing bodies need to think of technology in the context of “Enterprise Resource Planning” or better known as ERP. Once cost prohibitive for most churches and even some governing bodies, the technology landscape today is prime. With the advent of cloud-based technology, along with the emerging tools of the fourth industrial revolution, the use of pattern recognition is a crucial enabler of the evolution of church technology. So many churches are “new” to the technologies that are emerging and becoming established as the norm for communication and maintaining accurate records. Churches lack a current reference point and model for developing their strategies using the new technologies. By creating a library of patterns from critical best practices, churches can quickly identify the Congregational Profile, Process and Technology Design Patterns that are appropriate. These patterns then become the basis of customized, discipleship-specific transformation strategies.
Using congregational patterns substantially speeds up the process of a technology transformation. Whereas traditional consulting engagements can take two to three years to formulate and operationalize, your Diagnostic phase of a technology evolution should only take 4-6 weeks, and the Delivery phase takes 16-20 weeks. The result is also of a higher quality because the patterns are proven components and, therefore, have predictable outcomes.
Speed and quality are equally crucial to technology implementation. The traditional approach is to buy a packaged software application and custom-configure it to achieve the strategy. If the perfect package isn’t available, churches either sub-optimize the plan to fit the software or buy a more significant, more complicated application than they need. Regardless of which package a church picks, it will never encompass the latest and greatest technologies that are available, because there are literally thousands of companies developing new software and tools for specialized congregational functions every day. A packaged software application is also more difficult to change once it has been deployed.
Rather than using packaged software applications, think about using modular software components that are cloud-based. An architectural framework details precisely what features and functionality are needed to support the new congregational processes, and then you select the best elements from its library of Design Patterns. Because the resulting technology implementation is component-based, it is not only faster to implement, but also harnesses the best technologies available, such as AI and IoT, along with numerous cloud technologies and is more cost-effective, it is too far more adaptable to changes in congregational strategy.
Think back 20 years ago, the advent of what was called Y2K consumed everyone’s interest and attention for the latter part of the 90s. Are we better prepared to participate in the fourth industrial revolution?
To ensure against the classic disconnect between the strategic vision and the operational reality begin prototyping during the Diagnostic phase. This early prototyping does more than confirm or communicate a strategic vision, it actually expands and hones the image by enabling churches to brainstorm and iterate around the prototype.
Once the strategy is implemented, the next challenge is to change it… as often and as fast as the landscape conditions require. For this reason, your church has the flexibility of entering the planning and implementation process at any point in the evolution of strategy or implementation and still adding value.
The last piece of the transformation puzzle is integrated change management, or, getting an understanding of and proficiency in the new strategy, processes, and technology for ministers, congregation, and partners who must work with the new model. Without a strong educational component, the best transformation program is likely to fail.
More to come!