Sending rota reminders
In this article
Overview of rota reminder functionality
Rotas module Users can easily enable and send automated rota reminders to help rota members stay on top of their serving commitments. Once enabled, reminders are sent automatically to each opted-in rota member according to a preset sending schedule for each rota. You can send email and SMS rota reminders, each with its own sending schedule. You can configure one email and one SMS rota reminder per ministry - the ministry reminder settings are applied to all new rotas subsequently added for the ministry. In this way, added rotas inherit the ministry reminder defaults, but you can also enable, disable or further customise reminders on a per-rota basis. Reminders are only sent for published rotas. - they are not sent while a rota has a draft status.
Rota reminder emails use the Branded Slimline email template styling. Each rota member's reminder email includes the rota name, service, serving date and times, any serving roles assigned, and a list of other serving rota members and their roles. If added, the reminder also includes the ministry description and any rota and service notes for the rota date. You can also add a personalised greeting and message (required for the SMS reminder), which is appended to the top of the email body. Finally, for those using the Planning module, and for rotas linked to a Service, you can also choose to auto-include your published Plan Page links in the reminder - ideal for keeping your serving rota members in the loop with everything that's happening in the service.
Here's an example, to help you visualise a typical rota reminder email:
Sending automated rota reminders
You can enable and customise reminders for a Ministry, meaning that any rotas added for that ministry inherit the ministry's default rota reminder settings. Once set, you won't need to remember to enable reminders when adding rotas. However, reminders can be also enabled, disabled and customised on a per-rota basis. This may be helpful where you wish to set a different sending schedule for a particular rota, or where you wish to include rota-specific messaging in each rota's reminders. Once a rota is added, inheriting the ministry's default reminder settings, the rota's reminders are standalone, so any subsequent changes to reminder settings at a ministry level will only apply to new rotas and will not affect existing rotas. Let's explore this...
Starting in the Ministries section of the Rotas module, navigate to the ministry "View" page and click Edit from the reminder Actions menu. Note there are separate Email and SMS reminders, both disabled by default. We'll begin with the Email reminder and then move on to the SMS reminder.
On the Edit reminder pop-up, tick Send Email Reminders. Choose when to Send the reminder, choosing how many days before each rota date. Reminders are sent each morning at approximately 8 am local time, but this sending time can be customised in the Rotas module settings - see later in this article. For email rota reminders, note the default From details, which can be overtyped with preferred sender details if you wish the reminder to come from a named sender or from a managed email address to which you wish to receive replies. The email Subject defaults to your organisation name and the ministry name, but this can also be overtyped if you wish. Optionally add a personalised message, perhaps using one or more of the available Merge Fields for personalisation - position your cursor in the message body where the merge field is to be added and then select a Merge Field to insert from the drop-down list - for example, Hi ::first_name::. If you're using the Planning module, you can optionally Include plans, which adds a link to any plans that are linked to the same service as the ministry's rotas. Save the changes.
The same principle applies to the SMS rota reminder. Set when to Send the SMS reminder, choosing how many days before each rota date. For ministries where both email and SMS reminders are sent, it's often helpful to stagger the Send schedule - remember, email open rates may be lower but an SMS typically has a 100% open rate! Optionally overtype the SMS From details - either a generic name (no spaces), which won't receive SMS replies or a specific mobile number to which replies can be received. Finally, add the SMS message (required), typically no more than 160 characters to ensure each reminder doesn't use multiple SMS credits. As with email reminders, you can personalise the message using Merge Fields. It's not possible to include plan links in an SMS reminder. Click Save to complete the process.
You can preview rota reminders by selecting View from the reminder Actions. Note that a preview won't include any of the rota-member-specific or rota-specific information that will be included when the reminder is sent.
Customising a rota-specific reminder
When producing rotas, a newly-added rota inherits its rota reminder settings from the rota's underlying ministry defaults, as explained in the previous section. However, it is also possible to enable, disable and further customise rota-specific reminders if you wish, essentially overriding the ministry defaults. Rota-specific reminder changes do not affect the underlying ministry's defaults or any other published rotas for that ministry. Note that automated rota reminders only send for published rotas.
Working from a rota's View page within the Rotas module, note the actions to Edit and View a reminder. Working with the rota-specific settings follows the same process and functionality as the ministry defaults explained in the previous section. Changes made to rota reminders here - enabling, disabling, or customising the sending schedule, sender details or reminder message - only apply to this one rota.
Customising the sending time for rota reminders
Rota reminders are sent once each calendar day for all published rotas with enabled reminders at 8 am local time based on the 'Send schedule' specified for the rota, but you can optionally change the sending time if you wish.
Head into the Rotas module settings via the cogwheel icon in the top-right corner of the module. On the Module Options tab, set the Rota Reminder Time as appropriate - click Edit to make changes.
Reminder sending time - intended functionality
- The sending time applies to all email and SMS reminders for published rotas with reminders enabled. It is not possible to set different times for email and SMS reminders, and it is not possible to set different times on a ministry-by-ministry or rota-by-rota basis
- For rotas with reminders set to send "On the day", care should be taken to ensure that the sending time set in the module settings is before the earliest serving times for that rota, otherwise, no reminder will be sent. For example, reminders set to be sent at "10 am on the day" for a rota that is set to serve from 9.30 am will not be sent
- You can only configure one email and one SMS reminder per ministry - for example, it's not possible to send more than one email/SMS rota reminder for a rota date - there is only one sending schedule for email and one for SMS
- Rota reminders are not sent to those who have added unavailability, although their name will be shown in strikethrough styling in the rota reminder member list if they remain on the rota
- Reminders for children assigned to rotas are sent to the child's Email address or Mobile specified on their profile in the Children module. Reminders are not sent to parents/carers, even if the child's email address or mobile is empty. For serving children and young people that do not have an email address or mobile number of their own, you can add a parent/carer email address and mobile number against the serving child's Email and Mobile fields so that rota reminders are delivered to a parent/carer email address or mobile device.
Disabling rota reminders
Rota reminders can be disabled for individual ministries and also bulk-disabled for multiple selected ministries using batch actions (in the Ministries section of the module). Changes will only apply to new rotas added for the ministry after the change and do not affect existing published rotas. However, it is also possible to disable reminders for one or more existing rotas (in the Rotas section of the module). Let's look at each in turn.
1. Disabling reminders for an individual ministry
From the View page of the ministry (in the Ministries section), locate the Reminders section on the Details tab and click the Edit button located next to the Email or SMS reminder. On the Edit pop-up, untick the Send reminders option and save the changes. The respective reminder is now disabled for the ministry. Existing rotas are unaffected by this change, but reminders will now be disabled by default for any new rotas added to the ministry.
2. Disabling reminders for an individual rota
From the View page of the rota (in the Rotas section), locate the Reminders section in the rota profile and click the Edit button located next to the Email or SMS reminder. On the Edit pop-up, untick the Send reminders option and save the changes. The respective reminder is now disabled for this rota only. The ministry reminder defaults and the reminder settings for other rotas for the same ministry are unaffected by this change.
3. Bulk-disabling rota reminders for multiple selected ministries or rotas
You can make bulk changes - to enable or disable reminders - to the default reminder settings for multiple selected ministries and for multiple selected rotas from within the respective section of the module. Let's see both of these...
From the Ministries section, ticking one or more ministries reveals the batch Actions menu. Select Edit.
Similarly, from the Rotas section, ticking one or more rotas reveal the batch Actions menu. Select Edit.
On the Edit pop-up, select as