How Implementation Works

1. Our Approach to Implementations

People with the right expertise will shepherd the organization through the changes and squeeze every ounce of flexibility out of the system.

Software that is powerful, flexible, and well-designed will bridge the gap between requirements and actual use.

A Plan that is clear and concise will translate the initial excitement for change into momentum that clears the final hurdles on time.

These three ingredients combine to change the organizational processes in each major area impacted by the new system.

At Think Ministry we have great confidence in our team, our church management system (ChMS), and our implementation plan. We’ve been tested in some of the largest churches in the world. We learn from each implementation experience, and our team will make sure your church is fully implemented according to plan.

2. The People: Yours + Ours = Implementation Team

Think Ministry:

  • Sales/Relationship Lead
  • Pre-Implementations Lead
  • Project Manager
  • Coach
  • IT Lead
  • Data Lead
  • Professional Services Lead
  • Many others!

Your Organization:

  • Project Sponsor (Pastor/Exec)
  • Project Manager
  • IT Lead
  • Data Lead
  • Finance/Accounting Lead
  • Graphics/Web Integration/Communications Lead

NOTE: While not ideal, sometimes one person takes on more than one role because of church staff constraints. One person, however, is not allowed to have more than two roles on the implementation team. Additional people/roles on the church team are directed by the Church Project Manager and not considered part of the core implementation team (e.g. Children's Ministry, Women's Ministry, Men's Ministry, etc.).

3. The Software: MinistryPlatform, Incredible Flexibility

MinistryPlatform combines a powerful, easy-to-use data management framework with the feature set needed by large and/or multi-site churches. There are dozens of tools (apps) and hundreds of reports and views designed to save your staff time and expose mission critical information in ways that are actionable.

During the implementation, your church will experience many of the ways in which MinistryPlatform can quickly adapt to meet your unique needs. Here are a few of the ways in which we can adapt the system to your church:

4. The Plan: Gearing Up For Change!

The plan will help the Implementation Team to stay laser focused on their goal which is simply to implement MinistryPlatform. To that end, the plan revolves around things that allow the church to turn off the old ChMS and turn on MinistryPlatform with the least amount of ministry interruption possible.

This 9-week process includes online courses assigned to the church implementation team members during weeks 1-5. Week 6 includes one day of On-Site Training, and two additional Remote Training sessions for your staff. Weeks 7 & 8 include two more Remote Training sessions, followed by an on-site Go Live Resource for your go live weekend. Once the project wraps, then 5 more Remote Training sessions are held within 6 weeks of your Cutover date. 

5. Timeline: 9 Weeks, 9 Milestones

Boundaries Help To Keep Us On Course And On Time!

We know from experience that requests will occasionally arise during implementations that cannot be addressed by existing configuration options or even with the incredible flexibility of MinistryPlatform. When these situations arise, they should almost always be deferred lest they distract the team and impact the timeline.

Here are some examples of requests that are unlikely to fit in an implementation timeline if they were not originally listed in the Statement of Work.

  • Software enhancements and especially new software applications
  • Additional databases or spreadsheets to be migrated
  • New requirements resulting from the staff’s increasing awareness of MinistryPlatform’s flexibility
  • Integrations with 3rd party hardware or software not currently supported by Think Ministry

In many cases the above requests can be addressed after implementation is complete. Requests along these lines from the church staff and implementation team should be recorded by the coaches for future conversations and action once the implementation has successfully concluded.

6. Starting On the Same Page

During the implementation, the team will focus on the specific ministry scenarios that must take place immediately in the new system. For each scenario there are two things that matter:

  1. How is this process currently accomplished by the church?
  2. How will this process change in order to work well with the new system?

In order to realize the maximum benefits from your investment, you should strive to do things in the manner recommended by your Think Ministry implementation team. In order to minimize the disruption to ministry, the team will take full advantage of MinistryPlatform’s industry leading flexibility.

7. The Implementation Is Just the Beginning!

At Think Ministry, we view each church as a long-term relationship. We plan to serve your ministry for a decade or more! This shapes how we think of the sales and implementations cycles.

We plan on having fun during each implementation, and we enjoy getting to know the implementation team on a personal level. After all, we plan to spend eternity together.

Placing a high value on relationships means we have to “up our game” professionally as well. We don’t want to tax these budding relationships by being casual about our work. Consequently, we emphasize:

  • Clear and prompt communication
  • Follow-through on each and every commitment
  • Patience with those who are learning a new system
  • Extra attention when learning about your unique church culture
  • Dedication to meeting deadlines and exceeding expectations

8. Schedule Confirmation

SPoC & System Readiness Training will be week 4 ______________.

  • Weeks 1-3, ALL SPoCs, plan to spend several hours each week working in the Think Ministry Training Database (guided by the courses in our online learning management system (LMS)) to learn how MinistryPlatform works.
  • Week 4, SPoC & System Readiness week, ALL SPoCs + Web/Graphics Lead, plan to spend 4-5 hours together, on each of 3 days, to complete course work which will guide you through configuring your MP system to the way your church works, and then full testing of your portal. There will be three 30-minute follow-up calls and a 30-minute data call too.
    • SSR Day 1 follow-up Call ____________________
    • SSR Day 2 follow-up Call ____________________
    • SSR Day 3 follow-up Call ____________________
    • Call with TM Data Lead to ask any questions about your data ____________________

On-Site Training will be week 6 Tuesday __________ (unless otherwise specified to be on a different day of the week)

  • Weeks 3-5, ALL SPoCs, plan to spend a few hours each week working through the Pre-On-Site Training (POST) courses to prepare you to learn more about how MinistryPlatform works, and prepare you to be helpful to your staff during On-Site Training.
  • You will have 15 total Training Sessions. 10 will be Remote training sessions and 5 will be included in the one day of On-site Training with an expert trainer there with you.  (See Training page for more details on each)
  • The On-Site Training is hands-on training, so expect to setup a training room for your staff to use for the On-Site Training day. 
  • The Remote sessions can be attended from your desk, so each person can use their own computer. If you have the facilities, you may want to gather staff in your training room and project the training on screen in front, and have computers for each participant to follow along and try things as the trainer teaches. Either method will work for your staff. Remote sessions are limited to 150 computers connected.

Cutover will be week 7 Tuesday ________________ (unless otherwise specified to be on a different day of the week)

  • Tuesday, 9pm, right before Go-Live weekend
  • Before 2pm Tuesday, change security status in legacy system to Read Only so no inadvertent data changing happens
  • You put a copy of the database on MP server for final data migration (3rd load)
  • You send email to the TM Data Lead and copy TM Project Manager, letting us know you’re ready for cutover migration
  • Data Lead will migrate Tuesday afternoon/evening, then send email for data review
  • You MUST NOT change any data until YOU have given the all-clear via email back to TM Data Lead and TM Project Manager
  • Wednesday morning, as many users a possible, check their personal, family, ministry, group data.  Money SPoC checks financial data.  Users send all-clear to Church Data Lead who send all-clear to TM Data Lead and TM Project Manager.
  • Prepare for weekend, create check-in events, assign groups, map groups to nametags, test printing nametags again

Go-Live weekend will be week 8 ________________

  • Go Live person arrives 1 hour before Saturday/Sunday services to support your staff & volunteers on Check-In.
  • Single or Multi-campus—Go Live person is at 1 campus.  You’ll want to think through handling other campuses.
  • Returning for evening services is not required, but at the discretion of the Go-Live person depending on need.
  • Monday totally focused on contribution processing. Team stays until finished. Excused from meetings.
  • Tuesday is for congregation follow-up.  Things that typically come in on connection cards.  We also want to help you setup one online registration event.  Be thinking what event you might use for this.
  • Go-Live person typically heads to airport after lunch.

You should have all the Weekly Project Calls and weekly Coaching calls on your calendars already.

9. Implementation Glossary

  • Statement of Work: This document outlines the scope, timeline, and costs associated with the project.
  • The Kick-off Meeting: This one hour meeting introduces team members and establishes the dates for the project.
  • Weekly Project Status Meetings: These 30 minute weekly phone meetings are when updates take place and tasks are assigned. The purpose is to ensure the project itself stays on the track to success. They are all about the implementation process, not about learning the product.
  • Weekly Coaching Meetings: These one hour weekly screen-share meetings with the assigned Think Ministry Coach are for asking the random product questions that may get generated as the team goes through the online courses each week. There are also specific topics the Coach will review each week to ensure the church team understands the new MP terminology, how it relates to how the customer 'does church', and that best practices are being followed (and why).
  • Data Migrations: 1st, 2nd, and Final (aka Cutover) Data Migration Passes ensure all the data is migrated correctly.
  • SPoC & System Readiness (SSR): The dates when the system administrators will clear their calendars to receive web-based training on how to administer MinistryPlatform.
  • On-site Training: The dates when a Think Ministry representative will be on location to teach the staff how use key components of MinistryPlatform.
  • Cutover/Final Data Migration: The date when final migration is performed, data is reviewed, and user access permissions to the old ChMS are made to be “read-only” for all (and only) areas where MP is replacing that system.
  • Go-Live & Portal Live: The weekend immediately following Cutover. A Think Ministry representative is location to assist with initial use of the system in production for the first Sunday morning of services, the first Monday of contributions processing, and the first Tuesday of taking the Portal live. (If there is a Saturday service, the Think Ministry representative will be present for it as well.)
  • Wrap-Up & Final Call: The final communication by the Think Ministry Project Manager graduating the Church to Think Ministry’s support team and community forum at the completion of the implementation.


Last Modified: 9/10/2019

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