Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IT People Beware!

There's been a spirited discussion in one of the church Yahoo groups about a church whose team wants to change ChMS software for what appears to be all the wrong reasons.  The IT Director voiced opposition to the change, and sought the advice of other church IT people.

The conversation was, indeed, high quality and spirited, and then one of the folks said that in that situation the decision should be the IT Director's, and that they would resign if it went against the IT Director's choice.

This turn in the conversation raised a caution flag in me, so I joined in and suggested differently.  Here's what I said:
I have worked with many churches over the years in the IT field, and I don't know of any church IT Director who feels as strongly as you that the ChMS decision is theirs. Ultimately all decisions in a church are the pastor's or the governing board's, but this decision is usually owned by the leadership team (which may include the IT Director), and it's the IT Director's role to fully support it. Your church may be different, but if not, I hope that helps.

Some advice I have given many is to never own a hardware platform or software solution so strongly that it defines you. Technology and people change so much and so fast that doing so always puts a horizon on one's career.

His response showed his heart was in the right spot, and he's doing what's right.  WTG!

What do you think of the advice I gave?  Is there a software or hardware solution you're holding too tightly?


Carol said...

Maybe it's not so much holding on to a software platform too tightly as it is trying to avoid a drastic, time consuming, expensive, unnessary, and possibly detrimental change to the organization you work for. One has a duty to raise objections in these circumstances. I believe that in this case the IT director was not even consulted in the decision, as decision whose consequences will ultimately land in his lap.

Nick Nicholaou said...

I agree, Carol! And I applauded him for doing that, because doing so is his role. It was the ownership of the decision that was of concern.

Diane said...

Nick, I agree with what Carol said on that point. However, I'm not sure I agree totally with the never own a hardware platform or software solution. You do need to take ownership of what your area is. I'm sold on Shelby. Not a specific version of it, but their products. We may switch to their Arena products at some point. I personally have followed Shelby and technology changes from the System 36 to today's technology.

Josh said...

Without knowing the whole situation, I'd agree with you Nick. Change is always going to come. Sometimes you won't agree with the changes, but that doesn't mean that you take your ball and go home. We represent Christ in all we do. If we throw a hissy fit because we don't get our way, are we honoring God.

The biggest thing is respectfully giving your input as to why or why not a particular decision should be made. Then once a decision is made, own it like it's yours even if it wasn't.

I think that disagreements on changes are bound to happen. It's how you work through them that shows who you are. It's important to first understand why you disagree with something. If the reason is not personal, but based on some knowledge that you have, it's your duty to TACTFULLY share that information. If the reason is something personal (ie-you don't respect the other person's ability to make the decision or you're angry that they're not listening to you), it's your duty to get over yourself. This is solid advice not just for Church IT, but for anyone.

Jerry - Living Word said...

The employee that wants to migrate to ACS signed into Shelby a time or two without any training and immediately decided that Shelby is too difficult to use and we should change systems. This is the same person that walked into my office on her first day on the job and told me that our 1 year old web site was completely inappropriate and made the "church look like a bunch of old people go here." My response to the Shelby issue was "tell me the problem that you are trying to solve and I will try to solve it". Her response is mostly rhetoric with little substance. However, the budget committee agreed with me and said "let's identify the problem before the solution." When I questioned her a day later about her desire to leave Shelby, her response was "well all forward looking churches are going off Shelby." I basically told her that she was wrong. I worked as a software developer for GE for about 25 years prior to retiring. The main thing they taught their sales people is to sell a solution to a client's needs, not just a software package. We were in the business of selling software solutions.