Category Archives: tips and tricks

“Display Options” Update Makes Scheduling People Easier

Display OptionsThanks to feedback from a few larger churches using WP, we have an enhancement to the People Scheduling page that will make it easier to use.  The redesigned Display Options menu now allows you to select which teams you’d like displayed.  Before this update, your choices were to display all teams or only the teams that you lead.

The other change we made to this page is how these display options are saved.  We were using your browser cookies to save these settings.  This worked great in theory, but not so well in practice.  Our update now saves those display settings to your WP account so that you’ll see them if you change browsers or computers (notice the button at the bottom of the menu).

New Feature: Serving Preference

Preferred Serving Date

We can imagine volunteers all over the world cheering for joy when they discover this new feature.  Serving Preference is a simple feature that might only take you a week to wonder how you ever ran your ministry without it.  The idea: allow volunteers to tell you when (and possibly even how) they would like to serve.  Currently in WP, Helpers can block out days they cannot serve.  But if there are days they prefer to serve…well…they’re out of luck, unless they email you, call you, or send you smoke signals.

MyWP  Serving PreferenceWith our new Serving Preference feature, your team members can select which days they prefer to serve, and optionally the role in which they wish to serve, right on the MyWP calendar.  This window is accessed by simply clicking on a date in their MyWP calendar. 

Team leaders can then see all serving preferences right on the People Scheduling page.  It looks similar to an actual assignment, but is in a special “Serving Preference” section of the assignments.  Simply click the blue check mark to schedule the person as they prefer.

Serving Preference - Planners View One last thing to note is that Serving Preference is a Team setting, and is disabled by default for existing teams.  To enable it, login to WP and click People >> Teams >> desired team >> Settings tab.

Christmas Eve Service Like Last Year’s?

I recently got a question from a worship leader asking if there is an easy way to build a worship flow that is identical to a service they did last year. In this case, he was talking about a Christmas Eve service, but the answer could be useful year round.

The best way is to perform a “copy” of the service from last year. Here’s how:

1) Get to the worship flow of the service from last year (Admin >> Services >> “show past and future services” link >> right-arrow next to desired service).

2) On the service flow page, open the “Menu Options” panel on the left side, then the “Copy This Service” link.

3) On the Copy Service page, select to either clone the service (if you haven’t created the new service in WP), or simply copy the worship elements (called “Activities”) to a service you have already scheduled.

If you think the worship flow might be worthy, you could also create a “template” from it that you could use in the future. Learn more about service templates on our Video Tutorial page (http://support.worshipplanning.com/tutorials.cfm – near the bottom).

Secondary Email and SMS Text Messaging

This evening we applied an update to the WorshipPlanning.com site that has been frequently requested. Planners and Helpers can now receive WP communications through multiple email address and/or text message numbers. On your Account Settings page, you can add additional channels of communication, and specify which types of communications should be sent to each channel. The image below shows an example of a Planner that has one secondary email and one text message number set up.

Notice that the Primary email address ALWAYS receives the message, regardless of the type of communication. But each secondary channel can be individually configured based on the type of message being sent:

  • Assignment Notification
  • Assignment Response Notification (Planners only)
  • Message Board Updates
  • Service Changes
  • General Team Communications
  • User Account Updates

When a secondary channel is added, WP will send a short confirmation code via the new channel. Once received, the Planner/Helper will need click the “confirm” link and enter that code. This will activate that channel.

Messages sent to secondary email addresses will be exact copies of what is sent to the primary email address. However, messages sent to text message numbers will be very abbreviated in attempt to keep the message all in a single text message.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to post a comment here or contact us via our support site (http://support.worshipplanning.com).

SPAM Button Trigger Finger

As churches start to really use the people scheduling and team features, more and more volunteers are getting emails that originate from WP. By the strictest definition of the word, these emails might be considered spam because they are often unsolicited. But 99.999% of all emails sent from WP are actually team leader/member initiated and pertain to the recipient’s church or team.

Nonetheless, the increase of emails can make recipients want to click the “Mark as Spam” button in their mail software. While doing so might stop the emails from showing up in their inboxes, it can have a negative effect that is much more widespread. In fact, a couple Internet service providers have blacklisted emails sent from WorshipPlanning.com because enough of their customers have marked messages sent from WP as spam (even though the emails were initiated by their team leaders/members). We have since been removed from those lists, but our fear is that this could be an increasing problem in the future.

So, to help deter recipients from flagging WP messages as spam, we are making a change to the subject line. We considered changing the subject to be “SPAM Check:Safe”, “Very Important Message”, “Message From The President”, or “Please, Please, Please Read This!”. But in the end, we decide the best thing is to simply add the name of the church to the front of the subject. So, updates to message boards will have a subject like: “-Grace Church- New WP Discussion Post”. Our hope is that recipients will be less inclined to flag something as spam if they easily see the message is related specifically to their church.

We plan on implementing this change the evening of August 2nd. If you have any feedback regarding this issue, feel free to leave a comment.

Finding a substitute just got easier…

We just rolled out a couple of cool Team Scheduling enhancements that should make late minute schedule changes a breeze. First, we are excited to introduce a tool that will help you find a qualified substitute for an assignment. If a person has declined an assignment, a link will appear below his name that says “sub…”. When clicked, this link will bring up a window with a list of the best qualified (and available) substitutes, starting with the most qualified. Their Qualification Index is calculated using a special algorithm we created. The desired sub can then be easily selected for assignment right from the list.

Even if an assignment hasn’t been declined, you can still find a sub by clicking on the name of the person in the assignment and selecting the “Find a substitute…” link. Or, if you haven’t even assigned a person to the role yet, you can click the “No Person” link, and WP will make suggestions.

The other significant upgrade we made this evening was the first step in replacing the old way of assigning roles and people to services. The old way, of course, is that you go to the desired service, click on the “Roles” tab, then click on the “Edit Roles” or “Edit Assignments” links. We have added a new link on that page called “Role Scheduling”. Clicking it will take you to a page that looks like the Team Scheduling, except that it keeps you on the “Roles” tab and only shows you assignments for that service (and any linked services).

One last note: We have officially launched the WorshipPlanning.com Facebook page. Check out http://fb.worshipplanning.com and become a fan!

Shortcut, New Features, Hardware Upgrades

In this blog:

  • Navigation shortcut that could save you time
  • New Team Assignment feature coming soon
  • Hardware upgrades in the next month

It has been about three weeks since we launched version 3.5. Feedback continues to be very positive. Most people feel the updates are great enhancements, and are equally excited about the new features we have planned. A couple folks reported they continue to use the old site. When asked why, some have said that things require “more clicks” to get to. An example often given is that it takes several more clicks to switch from one service flow to another. For those in agreement, let me share with you the quick way to switch between services that is as fast as the old version. When you login to WP and look at the service flow page, find the date/time field above the tabs. Notice the blue down arrow? That arrow (and the entire date/time field) is clickable and will reveal dates/times/locations of other services in a dropdown menu. So, with just 2 clicks, you can access other services.

Several churches have asked for the ability to schedule an entire team of people all at once for a service, rather than one person at a time. It is a simple concept that is a little more complicated to implement. Currently in WP, for a person to be scheduled for a service, he or she must be assigned a role for that service. So, to assign all members of a team to a service in one fell swoop, there must be defined a role that each person will have for that assignment. We are currently developing both the ability to define a “default role” for each person on a team, and the ability to assign an entire team to a service. Our goal is to have WP updated with this feature in the first couple weeks of November.

In early November, we will be upgrading our server hardware. This upgrade will not only provide us better performance in the short term, but also allow us to easily scale as we continue to grow. We will provide more details on planned downtime once we nail down a specific upgrade date.

Skip ahead with these bookmarks: