The Management System is the “backbone” of any serious effort to develop infrastructure in the church. It actually enables growth through leveraging (scaling-up) the talent and expertise of key leaders in the organization.
In this post, you will discover more about this approach to infrastructure development and learn more than enough to implement a Management System in your church.
Here’s an outline:
- What is a Management System?
- How does it benefit the church?
- What does it include?
- What is the first step?
What is a Management System?
To “define” the Management System we must first talk about Quality. What do we mean when we say something is “high quality?” Or, what is meant by “excellence?”
A very long time ago, the ISO (International Standards Organization) defined Quality as, “The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy a defined requirement.” In other words, quality is “fitness for purpose.”
How does this apply to the church? What is “fitness for purpose” in the church context? It’s pretty simple. Quality is how well the church accomplishes its purpose. And, of course, the purpose is to honor God by following his teachings. Specifically, to be a community that reaches the lost and helps people become “fully devoted followers of Jesus.” Right? Depending on the church, the actual “mission statement” varies widely, but they all mean the same thing. Follow Jesus … do what he has commanded us to do.
So “quality” means getting the job done well. It’s basically the sum of …
- Knowing the stakeholders’ needs
- Equipping the church to meet those needs
- Faultless implementation
- Reliable inputs (supplies, equipment, services, etc.)
- Clear instructions
- Excellent execution
- Efficient backups
- Stakeholder feedback and continuous improvement
The main ingredient of the Management System is people. As leaders, we must find staff and volunteers, train and develop them, communicate with them, and put a system in place that helps them to succeed. In the final analysis, if quality is important to an organization’s success, then the only way that one organization’s quality performance will be better than another’s is through the quality of the people who serve in the organization.
The Management System provides the church with a method of analyzing stakeholder needs, defining processes that ensure the quality objectives are met, and controlling the processes to ensure that results are predictable and repeatable. The Management System also provides the framework for continuous improvement, increasing the likelihood of achieving the satisfaction of the stakeholders. It gives the stakeholders confidence that the church has the capability to consistently deliver high quality results.
How does it benefit the church?
There are many reasons to implement a Management System for your church. The first is that it brings consistency to routine activities and helps to ensure best practices. What does that mean? One of the biggest challenges in a high growth environment is rapidly identifying, recruiting, training, and deploying leaders. This is the bottom line. If the senior leader is not especially good at constant communication and direction giving, keeping up with the demand is almost impossible. Here is where the Management System comes into play.
The Management System is a training aid that enables people to be trained quickly and efficiently. Best practices are established and documented. Now they are “written down” and available to anyone needing to know. This is HUGE!
The Management System formalizes the communication infrastructure. Simply put, it provides a vehicle for organizing and disseminating information. Once it’s set up, a “one-stop shopping” simplicity is in place when information is needed to find out how to get something done. From “How do I spend money?” to “How do we plan, design, produce, and execute the weekend service?” is established and available for new people to access.
The Management System is a means to manage and facilitate change and improvement. One of the biggest obstacles to flexibility and change for the better is the lack of established systems, processes, and methods in the first place. Yes, this is counter-intuitive but it is true. It’s very difficult to “rally the troops” around a change or quick tweak to something when nothing is really “formally” in place.
The Management System eliminates obvious excuses like “nobody told me” or “I thought they were doing that.” Communication in any organization is a challenge. When it comes to processes that people need to follow, though, it can be very difficult to communicate effectively enough to make sure things are being done “according to plan.” You’ve probably heard the old adage, “an e-mail does not a policy make.” In other words, sending an e-mail isn’t an effective means to communicate a procedure or policy. How do new people (staff and volunteers) learn about something that was communicated via e-mail 6 months before they started?
What does it include?
The Management System is divided into 5 different “elements” with a Manual at the top of the hierarchy. The Management System Manual explains the purpose of the system and, at the highest level, defines each element … its purpose and what it contains.
The elements of the Management System are listed below along with the categories under each element:
Management System Administration
- Control of Data, Documents, and Records
- Policy and Procedure Review and Approval
- Access to Information
- Document and Data Distribution
- Version Control
- Record Retention
- Organizational Structure
- Responsibility and Authority
- Strategic Planning
- Management System Review
- Job and Ministry Descriptions
- Training and Development
- Performance Review
- Health and Safety
- Ministry Area Operations
- Purchasing and Supplier Development
- Office Operations
- Information Technology
- Facilities Management
- Site Security
- Project Planning
Measurement, Analysis, and Improvement
- Measurement of Results
- Management System Assessment
- Continuous Improvement
- Corrective and Preventive Action
What is the first step?
The first step in the development and implementation of a Management System is the decision by the leaders to make it a priority. From there, it’s pretty simple. But without a leadership commitment to making it happen, to making it a priority for the organization, and to supporting it after it begins to be put into place … it is an “uphill battle” every step of the way.