Working with rotas in ChurchSuite once they're created

There are related articles about how to set up a Ministry in ChurchSuite and how to create a rota for a Ministry. But what happens then? As much as churches hope rotas will run smoothly, the reality is that rotas change - new people join the team, people step down, people need to rearrange their commitments, extra dates get added to the schedule to cater for a special event - the list of changes is endless. This article explores rota management functionality to help you stay on top of managing the changes without having to create new rotas each time.

In this article

Publishing a draft rota
Switching between "name" view and "role" view
Adding people to the rota
Enabling rota sign-up
Children on rotas
Adding unavailability for serving team members
Assigning or changing roles
Clash management
Duplicating a team from an existing date
Swapping teams between two dates
Removing people from the rota
Adding Notes to highlight special dates
Adding dates to your rota
Removing dates from your rota
Changing the times of your rota
Communicating with a serving team on a rota date
Communicating rota changes to your serving teams
Using the rota group email
Renaming your rota
Rota change logs

Publishing a draft rota

When you first add a rota for a Ministry it is created with a Draft status. This allows you to continue to make changes to your rota without it being visible to team members in My Rotas within My ChurchSuite. You (and other Rotas module users) can easily identify which rotas are still Draft.

Once your rota is ready to be Published, open the rota. Note the Information message confirming the draft status. Click 'Publish rota' to allow My ChurchSuite users to see the rota in My Rotas.

A success message confirms the rota is now Published. You can change the Draft/Published status of a rota at any time. Select "Edit rota" from the drop-down menu at the top of the Rota page.

Here, among other settings explained later in this article, you can toggle the rota status between Draft and Published at any time. Remember that draft rotas are not visible to rota members in My ChurchSuite; only published rotas.

Can I change the rota rotation?

Whilst you can make lots of changes to rotas once they're published, it is not possible to change the rotation, since a rota dates are generated based on the rotation set at the point the rota was first created. To change the rotation for your serving teams, simply head to the underlying Ministry, amend the rotation and team structure accordingly, and then create a new rota, which will reflect the new rotation.

Switching between Name view and Role view

By switching from Name view (alphabetical last name order) to Role view, you can quickly identify whether you have sufficient serving team members covering each of the roles in your ministry on any given date. In Role view, roles are sorted in the order set in "Rotas" > "Roles". You can change the role order of your ministry (perhaps having key roles like 'leader' at the top), by dragging the crosshair 'handles' on the Roles page.

Name View

Role View

In "Role View", hovering your mouse over a role will reveal the "+Add to role" option, allowing you to add people directly to that role on the rota (irrespective of any roles assigned in the underlying ministry). If the member already has other roles assigned to them in the ministry, a pop-up modal will display giving you the option to add them to other roles if desired.

Adding people to the rota

Click "Add to date" to open the "Search" option. From the list of Ministry "Members", select a name from the list, or "Search for person" - this can be someone who isn't yet in the Ministry and can include contacts from your Address Book or Children module. In the example below, notice how ChurchSuite alerts you to potential serving clashes - either where people are serving on other rotas (shown in red) or are unavailable (shown in red strikethrough).

If a member has one or more roles it'll auto-select the role(s) when you add them to a date. If a rota member has different roles on different teams within a ministry it will give you option to choose which role(s) you want to assign - simply select/unselect as desired.

Toggling the search from "Members" to "Teams", you have the option to add an entire team to a rota date. For example you might use your Reserve team. Note that adding members that are in the underlying ministry will be added with the role(s) they hold in the ministry - however, roles can be overridden on the rota without affecting roles assigned in the underlying ministry.

Enabling rota sign-up

A great feature of ChurchSuite rotas is to use rota sign-up to allow your serving team members in the underlying ministry to be able to sign-up to available dates on a published rota in My ChurchSuite. You can set a maximum quantity of sign-ups for all dates on a rota, or you can set 'per date' quantities - perhaps where you identify additional team members are needed.

You can enable sign-up when adding a new rota (click the checkbox and enter the sign-up capacity)...

...or you can enable it for an existing rota by clicking "Edit rota"...

...and tick to "Allow members to sign up to future dates?"

In both the above instances, you can set a maximum sign-ups capacity. If you only want to solicit sign-ups for one or two dates on your rota (perhaps busy services), you might set the Maximum sign-ups to "0" and then set a capacity on just those dates where needed. As another example, if you already have 4 teams members on most weeks and you want to grow this to 8, set a maximum sign-up capacity to 8 (not 4).

Sign-up can be disabled at any time. Rotas with sign-up enabled display in the Rotas list with a 'tick' before the rota name.

With sign-up enabled, rota members that are part of the rota's underlying ministry will now be able to view active and future 'sign-up' rotas and select which rota to sign-up for (sign-up rotas are distinguished with a 'pencil' icon in My Rotas)...

...and select which date(s) on the rota they are signing up for.

The role(s) assigned in the underlying Ministry is pre-selected. Where a ministry member has multiple roles assigned, they'll be able to select from their assigned roles.

The sign-up member is added to the rota date in the selected role(s). A helpful progress bar shows sign-up progress for each rota date. Once a rota date has reached capacity, no further signups to that date will be possible.

Children on rotas

You can add children contacts to your rotas (e.g. members of your youth). This is done in exactly the same was as adding an adult contact. Simply search for the child's name and add them as described above. Note that within My ChurchSuite, children contact details are not made visible, even to fellow rota members; only their name is shown on the rota. Children will however receive rota reminders to the email address specified in the contact profile page, and will also receive rota group emails to that email address too.

Adding unavailability for serving team members

As explained in greater detail in the related articles on Unavailability, overseers can add the unavailability of serving team members directly on a rota, perhaps to add a note of absence for holiday. Unavailability can be added from the Date cog...

...allowing you to select the team member - the date is pre-selected. You can edit any of the unavailability details before clicking 'Save Changes".

Or, you can add unavailability on the rota member cog...

...which will pre-populate the unavailability form with the all the details of the team member you have chosen. Again, you can edit any of the settings on the form before saving the changes.

After saving changes and adding unavailability, the rota displays the team member in red strikethrough on the rota.

The rota entry (and any assigned roles) are preserved on the rota as a visual reminder that the team member needs to be swapped or removed, ensuring you don't miss any gaps that would otherwise be created if the person was simply removed without warning.

The Unavailability tab on the Rotas page displays a list of all unavailability in respect of that rota.

From this page you can also add further unavailability, or jump to the Rotas > Unavailability page to see all unavailability for all rotas.

Assigning or changing roles

When you first add a rota for a Ministry, team members are assigned the role(s) specified in the underlying Ministry by default. These can be overridden in the rota without affecting the underlying Ministry. This allows you to make custom changes to suit your ministry's particular needs on any given rota data. Rota members can be assigned multiple roles - this means that in Role View, a team member will show more than once - they'll show under each role they are assigned.

Hover the cursor over a team member name. The cog wheel drop-down menu appears. For members without a role, you can select "Add role".

For members who already have a role, you can select "Edit role".

In both instances you can then select one or more roles (or unselect roles) from the pop-up list of roles available for the Ministry. Click "Save Changes" once you've made your role selection.

Top Tip!

In Role View, you get a numeric indicator of the number of team members in a role. If you hover the cursor over a role, the "Add to role" button reveals. Any team members added using this button will be assigned with that role automatically, irrespective of their roles in the underlying ministry. This is therefore a much quicker method of adding people straight into roles on your rota, compared to the "Add to date" and "Edit role" method explained above.

Clash management

When you add new members to a rota (as described above), or move members around on a rota, ChurchSuite will alert you to any rota clashes arising from the change.

By clicking "Proceed" you can override the Clash warning, or you can click "Cancel" and investigate further before proceeding. Obviously, many potential clashes are simply because someone is serving in multiple places that week; it's entirely feasible someone might be serving in the worship team and then going off to lead a youth group after worship. These types of clash warning can be avoided if you set your Ministry times to accurately reflect the times when members are serving in a service; but sometimes this isn't the case and genuine clashes may happen.

You can view the status of rota clashes in the "Rotas" > "Reports" > "Rota Clashes" report at any time...

...or view the Clash page on any rota where clashes exist.

Within the Clash page, unavailability clashes show with a airplane symbol, while date clashes (where a member is serving on multiple rotas at the same time) are shown with a star symbol. Date clashes include a note of the conflicting rotas and roles.

Duplicating a team from an existing date

In addition to adding members to a rota date individually, you can also duplicate the members from an existing rota date. Within the rota date you're wanting to add people to, select "Duplicate from date" under the cog-wheel drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the rota date.

Select the date from the drop-down menu and optionally choose whether to also overwrite the team name and date notes in your target date. Click "Duplicate Date" to confirm.

Swapping two teams

You can swap an entire list of serving team members (including their assigned roles) between two dates. Working within one of the dates on your rota, click the cog-wheels in the top-right corner of the date and select "Swap date".

Choose a date to swap with, from the drop-down menu. The people on that target date are listed with their roles. Confirm the swap by clicking "Swap Date".

Removing people from the rota

Hover your cursor over the name of the member and click the cog-wheel next to their name. Select "Remove member" (or you can select "Swap member" to replace the current rota member).

In addition to being able to remove them from that single rota date, you can optionally choose to remove them from all future dates on this rota, and to additionally remove them from the linked Ministry entirely.

Adding Notes to highlight special dates on your rota

Special services, like baptism services that attract larger numbers than normal, can often catch us out - we might need more team members that week. Notes are rota-specific and allow you to add custom messages to your rota as a reminder to rota Overseers - like, "Baptism Service-more chairs needed" for your set-up team rota. Notes pull through onto all rota reports and rota reminder emails that your team members will receive. Note, however, that rota Notes do not push through to that date on all your other rotas - they must be custom-added to each rota.

Hover the cursor over the cog-wheel in the top-right corner of a rota data. Select "Add note".

Type your note. You can add multi-line Notes and even include short URL links if you wish. Click 'Save'.

The note is added to that rota date, displayed under the team name.

Adding dates to your rota

You can easily add additional dates to a rota. You can even add further instances of an existing date but at a different time - ideal for for those three identical Christmas carol services you've got back to back! Dates can only be added one at a time. Ordinarily churches should produce new rotas for the next term/season, rather than endlessly extending existing rotas. This allows overseers the ability to work on draft rotas before making them visible to team members. It also prevents ad hoc people who may have served once in the past from continuing to received swap requests.

To add a date to a rota click the "Add date" button at the top of the rota page.

Enter the date and time and any optional notes. Click "Add Date"

A new, empty date (and the time) is added to your rota ready for you to add team members to - perhaps by duplicating from an existing date (see above) if you wish.

Removing dates from your rota

You have two options here. You can either clear down the date (removing all team members from the date) and leave the date in place on the rota with empty roles in tact (perhaps to be added to another time); or you can remove the date entirely. These changes do not affect your underlying Ministry team structure and team members.

To clear down the team members from a date, hover the cursor over the cog-wheel in the top-right corner of the rota date. Select "Clear date". You'll be asked to confirm.

To delete the date from your rota entirely, hover the cursor over the cog-wheel in the top-right corner of the rota date. Select "Delete date". You'll be asked to confirm.

Changing the times of your rota

The serving times for team members are shown at the top of the rota page. You can change these serving times at any time. Rota reminders and clash reporting will be updated to reflect the changes. Select "Edit rota".

Amend the times as required and save your changes. ChurchSuite will apply the changes to all rota dates that had the original time, setting them to the new time. Rota dates with different times that have been changed manually on a 'per date' basis will not be changed.

As well as making global time changes to your rota, you can also amend the serving times of team members on a 'per date' basis. On a rota date, select "Edit date".

Here you can make changes to the start time for your serving team members on that date. This change will only apply to this single instance on the rota. Rota reminders and clash detection will both respect the change too.

Communicating with a serving team on a rota date

Selecting the cog-wheels in the top-right corner of any date, reveals a menu option to "Send email" or "Send SMS" to just those serving team members on that rota date. This is the same functionality as using the Rota > Overview Report where you can filter a ministry and single date and communicate to the team on that rota. Here, we've brought that functionality to the rota page to make team management simpler.

Communicating rota changes to your serving teams

Rotas are always up to date to your serving team members when they view My Rotas in My ChurchSuite. In addition to any rota reminders they'll receive (if enabled in the underlying Ministry), you may wish to distribute the latest rota to your serving rota members - particularly if you've made lots of significant changes. You have a variety of ways to do this, depending on what you wish to achieve.

The most likely, and quickest action is to simply select "Send rota" from the Communicate drop-down menu at the top of the rota page. This generates a personalised email with the rota and serving team contact list embedded into the body of the message. Simply add an email title, any custom message you want to include, and click "Send". Note that the full rota is emailed, including any past dates - this is intended functionality.

When previewing the email, you have the option to add in (or remove) recipients - maybe to 'cc' the Senior Pastor or Sunday Service Coordinator.

Another option is to use "Send SMS"; perhaps to let rota team members know there's been an update and that they should check My Rotas in My ChurchSuite for more details.

Choosing "Send Email" invokes the Rota module Communication page, and automatically pushes all the serving team members through to that page ready for you to compose your email.

A further option is to download the rota as a PDF or CSV file; perhaps to distribute as an attachment in an email to non-rota team members, or to save the rota as a file in a church DropBox account. The CSV file could also be used as the basis for a custom rota presentation format that you would prefer to create and distribute yourself.

Rota CSV

The rota can be downloaded to a CSV file, which can be viewed and further manipulated in desktop applications like MS Excel and Apple's Numbers. The CSV includes all rota dates (including past dates), not just future dates, meaning you can download a CSV file of a past rota if you wish. The CSV file is produced in either role order or name order, depending on the current rota view selected. Since CSV files are text-only files, it is not possible to include colour and strikethrough text formatting in the CSV. Clashes and unavailability are distinguished by !! and -- characters in front of the rota member names.

You can also select "Print Rota"; perhaps to display on the wall in the church office, or hand out paper copies to those serving team members who don't have email addresses. Note that different printers render this report differently - landscape rotation works best. If you encounter 'print preview' issues with clipping then download a rota PDF and print that file instead.

Using the rota group email

ChurchSuite creates a closed "Group email" address for each of your rotas.

The address is totally unique to that single rota and can be distributed among your rota members; making it easier for them to send prayer requests around the team, or to organise a swap. Any emails sent to the Group email will automatically be distribute to all rota or ministry team members (depending on the module option set).

Renaming your rota

There may be times, perhaps when you've added a date onto the end of your rota, that you need to amend the rota name. In most instances, your rota will have the default name assigned at the time it was first published - a combination of the Ministry name and the rota date range.

To change the rota name, select "Edit name" from the drop-down menu at the top of the rota page.

Edit your rota name accordingly and click to save the changes. We do, however, recommend you retain some reference to the Ministry name and date range to make it easier to identify rotas in your Rotas module and My ChurchSuite.

Rota change logs

ChurchSuite maintains a "change log" for each of your rotas (located at the bottom of the rota page. The log shows details of who and when the changes are made. Recent changes can be undone.

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