Project management is the process of coordinating knowledge, skills and resources to build a unique service, product or outcome. It begins with asking the right questions before investing significant time and money. After you get the green light, it allows you to define the scope of your project and the projected outcomes.
Efficient project management is crucial to church ministry. Here are some benefits:
1. Documentation brings excellence.
Project managers regularly document their work so they can track what works, what doesn't work, what changes are required and how long each part takes. In doing so, they always seek improvement.
When planning a church event, keep track of each step you and your team take. Review these notes the next time you plan a similar event.
2. Planning ahead provides time to brainstorm ideas.
Plan extra time for creativity, but do it methodically. Understand why many brainstorming sessions fail and be willing to change your approach as necessary.
You may lack a clear focus. In this situation, try to brainstorm ways to combine or strengthen ideas already in the plan, rather than create new ideas, which can get things off-track.
Consider who to invite, so you don’t have too many people which may lead to distracting side conversations. Limit the group to a couple of people involved in the project and a couple of people who have no involvement. Exclude domineering people who may stifle introverts and defeat the value of getting together as a group.
3. Schedule and budget keep you on track.
The schedule needs to include markers so you know the critical point at which you absolutely cannot get behind. This will eliminate last-minute scrambles, allowing the final moments of completing the project to be a time of celebration, not stress. Include and use an editorial calendar for your marketing needs so your messaging gets out at the right time.
The budget must include costs that may occur if problems arise. Get estimates early so you are not surprised after you pass a point of no return.
4. Proper delegation leads to a balanced team.
Project managers always should involve the right people for the right tasks. Everyone with a responsibility should be scheduled into the plan. Conversely, leaders must know when to redeem or replace volunteers. You may need to discover people’s strengths and redirect work. You may need to provide constructive criticism. These can be difficult decisions, but they must be made for the greater good.
Make sure you do not overload anyone at any point in the schedule. It may be better to give a task to the next-best choice than to overload your most qualified volunteer or staff member.
Remember, most people have other projects on which they are working. Check with your team to know members will be ready when you need them. Make it easy for volunteers by creating a shared calendar that everyone can view and suggest revisions, if necessary.
5. Regular communication leads to excitement and readiness.
Project managers must communicate regularly with the project team, other leaders and additional stakeholders. With church projects, stakeholders may include the pastor, church members and community members your local congregation is seeking to reach. The project manager should communicate regularly with all of these in order to understand needs as well as to build excitement and prepare for the launch of the project. Remember, communication means listening as well as sharing what you are doing.
Keeping everyone in the loop is hard work. Make it easy for leaders and learn how to manage virtual teams! They help keep communication flowing and save a lot of time and resources.
There are many other reasons to manage church projects strategically. Let these five benefits motivate your church to start. As you keep communication flowing, you will continue to grow your ministry even if a project does not succeed. The lessons learned will only bolster the next project.
Andrew J. Schleicher is a project coordinator with United Methodist Communications.