Are you still using Word docs and spreadsheets to prepare your ministry schedules?

Ever consider how much a staff person is paid or how many volunteer hours are sacrificed to prepare schedules with these tools?

“All ministers please pick up a copy of the new schedule before leaving today”

What? You mean on a piece of paper?

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Did you know there is a better way?

Recently I had a conversation with the Liturgy Coordinator and the Pastoral Administrator from a nearby parish. I asked how they handled scheduling of ministers. The Liturgy Coordinator explained that the individual Ministry Coordinators prepared the schedules for their volunteers, usually in Word or Excel.

The schedules were submitted to the Liturgy Coordinator who would manually cross-reference them for conflicts to create the ‘final’ schedule, a ‘master’ document composed probably in Excel, although I can’t recall. I was having pre-Ministry Scheduler Pro (MSP) flashbacks.

Maybe these examples are familiar to you.

When I first took on the position of Liturgy Coordinator for my parish, the schedules were prepared by the office staff using a table in a Word document. When it was time for a new schedule, the shortcut was to change the dates and try not to change the rotations. Only if someone had taken the time to contact the office about times they were not available would changing assignments be necessary.Are you preparing ministry schedules using Word?

Even before I knew about MSP, I knew this Word doc approach was not the best method and putting the schedules together in general were not on the staff’s faves list.

I have a reputation for creating some very pretty spreadsheets … and I made a lovely one when I moved from our schedules from Word tables to Excel spreadsheets.

Graduate from scheduling by spreadsheet to using an effective cloud based scheduling program - Ministry Scheduler Pro
The only thing that made these Excel spreadsheets better than the Word docs was that there was a single line for each minister and you could enter notes about availability in column T. You just had to watch this column as you manually did the scheduling.

We would print blank schedules for each ministry on 11″ x 17″ paper and tape them to the walls. Then, with pencil and eraser in hand, we would start scheduling. It was a long and tedious process.

Then we graduated from spreadsheets to Ministry Scheduler Pro.

There’s a great story that goes along with why we chose MSP over other programs, but we’ll share that in another post. And how MSP engaged our volunteers in the scheduling process in such a way that they took more ownership for their responsibility of serving, is also worthy of a separate post.

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