Working with rotas in ChurchSuite once they're created

There are related articles about 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, roles change, people need to rearrange their commitments, extra dates get added for ad hoc events - 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. A further support article called Working with rotas in My ChurchSuite once they're created has been produced for ministry overseers working within the member-facing My ChurchSuite.

In this article

Publishing a draft rota
Changing the display order of a rota
Adding people to a rota
Enabling rota sign-up
Children on rotas
Adding unavailability for rota 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 rota Notes to highlight special dates
Adding further dates to a rota
Removing dates from a rota
Changing the times of a rota
Communicating with a serving team members on a rota date
Communicating rota changes to your serving teams
Using the rota group email
Renaming a rota
Rota changes logs

Publishing a draft rota

When you create a new rota for a Ministry it is created with a Draft status. Draft rotas have the distinct advantage of allowing ministry overseers to plan ahead and continue to make changes without the rota being visible to the rota's members in My ChurchSuite until you are ready. You can easily identify draft rotas in the list - those with Draft after the rota's name...

...or by filtering by Status using the Advanced Search...

Once the draft rota is ready to be Published, either select Publish from cog actions menu on the right-hand side of the list of rotas...

...or open the rota, noting the blue Information message confirming the draft status, and click Publish now to make visible in My ChurchSuite.

A success message confirms the rota status has been updated to Published. You may now wish to distribute your newly-published rota to the rota's members so that they know there's a new rota available - to do this, you can use the Send rota option on the Communicate drop-down menu...

You can change the Status of a rota at any time if you need to - simply select Edit [rota] from the drop-down Edit menu at the top of the rota page.

Here, in addition to managing other settings for the rota explained later in this article, you can change the rota's Status between Draft and Published. Remember that draft rotas are only visible to ministry overseers in My ChurchSuite; only published rotas are visible to all rota members.

Can I change the rota rotation?

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

Changing the display order of a rota

Your can easily change the display Order of a rota from Name order (alphabetical last name order) to Role order, which is helpful for role-based ministries where you need to quickly identify if you have sufficient serving team members in each role on any given date.

Note that changing a rota's order here is temporary and only applies to the rota being viewed - when you close and return to the rota, the order will revert to Name order. To make a permanent change to the rota order, select to Edit the rota settings and change the rota order as required.

You can set the Order that roles are listed in Role view in the Roles section of the Rotas module - note in the screenshot below how the roles can be ordered for each Ministry by either dragging the Order number or clicking the Order number and using the up/down arrows to move roles in the list - perhaps having key roles like 'leader' first.

In Role order, hovering your cursor over a role reveals the +Add [to role] button to add people directly to that role on that rota date.

You can then select from a scrollable pop-up list of available people assigned with that role in the underlying, or search and add another person to that role. In this way people can be assigned to roles on a rota on an ad hoc basis without the underlying Ministry being affected.

Adding people to the rota

In the previous section we saw that in Role order, it's possible to Add people directly to a role. In this section we'll see how to add people to a rota date. Click Add to date.

A pop-up scrollable list of ministry members not already assigned to that rota date is displayed.

Ministry members in the list will be added to the rota date with the role(s) they are assigned in the underlying Ministry. Once added you can edit their role(s) to make ad hoc role changes without affecting the underlying Ministry. You can also Search for person to add an ad hoc person from your Address Book or Children module who isn't yet a member of the Ministry. Ad hoc rota members are added without a role. Again, once added, you can then assign role(s). Adding ad hoc rota members and roles will not affect the underlying Ministry. In the example above, 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).

Once people are added to a rota date, you can easily assign or change their role(s). Click the action cog icon next to any rota member's name. For rota member with No role, select Add role. And for rota members with an existing role(s), select Edit role. The Edit Roles pop-up allows you to select the role(s) to be assigned. Assigned roles change colour from grey to blue when selected. Click Save Changes to apply to role selection to the rota member.

The +Add to date button's pop up list of People also has a Teams tab, providing a list of the Ministry's teams. In this way you can click to add an entire Team to a rota date.

Team members will be assigned to roles based on their team roles defined in the underlying Ministry. Again, ad hoc changes to roles can be made after a team is added without affecting the roles assigned in the underlying ministry.

Notice also that when hovering your cursor over a person's name, all their other dates/roles on that rota are highlighted.

Enabling rota sign-up

A great feature of the Rotas module is rota sign-up. Rota sign-up enables ministry members to sign-up to available future dates on a published rota in My ChurchSuite. Overseers can set a maximum capacity for all dates on a rota, or they can set a 'per date' capacity - perhaps for just those dates where additional team are needed. Rota sign-up can also be helpful when you wish to circulate an empty or partially-completed rota for ministry members to fill.

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

...or you can enable it for an existing rota by clicking Edit [rota] from the drop-down Edit menu at the top of the rota page.

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


In both the above methods you can set a Maximum sign-ups per date for all future dates on the rota. If you only want to solicit rota sign-ups for one or two dates on the rota (perhaps just for busy services), you should set the "Maximum sign-ups per date" for the entire rota to "0" and then set a different "per date" capacity on just those dates where sign-up is needed (see below). Similarly, if you already have say 4 team members on each rota date and you want to grow this to 8 people per date, set a maximum sign-up capacity to 8 (not 4) so that there is available capacity for people to sign up to. Sign-up can also be disabled at any time.

To set the sign-up capacity for just certain rota dates, begin by enabling rota sign-up as explained in the previous section. Then click Edit date from the actions cog menu for the date(s) you wish to set a date-specific capacity...

...and set the Maximum sign-ups. Click Save Changes and repeat for each rota date for which you wish to set a date-specific sign-up capacity.

Rotas with sign-up enabled display in the Rotas list with a 'tick' icon at the start of the rota's name in the list.

With sign-up enabled, ministry members are able to view active and future 'sign-up' rotas in My ChurchSuite - like ChurchSuite, sign-up rotas are distinguished by a 'tick' icon in the My Rotas list.

Ministry members can then click through to sign up for date(s) on the rota they are signing up for. Note that only ministry members can view a 'sign-up' rota and sign-up - the rota is not visible to non-ministry members - it's not possible for non-ministry members to join a rota through sign-up - they must first be added to the ministry and then they can sign up.

When signing up to rota dates, ministry members can select the role(s) they are signing up for - the role(s) available to them are based on the roles they are assigned in the underlying Ministry - they can't select a role that they don't have in the underlying ministry.

The signed-up ministry member is added to the rota date in the selected role(s). A helpful 'sign-up' 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, even if there are unfilled roles for that date. Note that it's not possible to cancel a sign-up - only an overseer can remove a rota member from a rota (or a swap can be processed). Similarly, only a rota overseer can assign or change rota roles.

The 'sign-up' progress indicator is also shown on rotas and rota reports within ChurchSuite, changing colour from red (indicating many unfulfilled slots), to orange (indicating a few remaining unfulfilled slots) to green (indicating all available slots fulfilled). Hovering your cursor over the progress bar displays the actual number of rota date spaces filled out of the total sign-up capacity for that date.

Children on rotas

Children and young people can serve on rotas too - distinguished by a child icon in front of their name. Adding children and young people from the Children module is done in exactly the same was as adding Address Book contacts to a rota - simply search for the child's name and add them as described above. Note that within My ChurchSuite, children contact details are not visible, even to fellow rota members; only their name is shown on the rota. Children will however receive email rota reminders to their email address, 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 article on Unavailability, Rotas module users and ministry overseers can Add unavailability on behalf of serving team members directly on a rota - perhaps where the ministry member doesn't have access to My ChurchSuite to add their own unavailability. Unavailability can either be added from the Date cog actions menu (top right corner of a rota date)...

...selecting the Person - the date is pre-selected. You can set the unavailability date/time details and optional Description before clicking Save Changes...

Or, you can Add unavailability from the rota member's action cog menu...

...which will pre-populate the Add unavailability pop-up with the all the details of that Person. Again, you can set the unavailability date/time details and optional Description before clicking Save Changes.

Unavailability is distinguished on a rota in red strikethrough.

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

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

From here you can add further unavailability, or navigate to Rotas > Unavailability to view all unavailability for all rotas.

Assigning or changing roles

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

To assign a role, hover the cursor over a rota member name. The cog actions menu appears. For rota members without a role, select Add role.

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

For both Add role and Edit role you can then select or deselect roles as appropriate. Selected roles have a blue background. Click Save Changes once you've made your role selection.

Top Tip!

In Role order you will see 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 rota 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 directly into roles on a rota, compared to the Add to date and Edit role methods explained above.

Clash management

As you add people to rotas or move people around within a rota, ChurchSuite will alert you to any Rota Clashes arising from the change.

By clicking Proceed you can override a clash warning, or you can click Cancel and investigate further before proceeding. Often a clash is simply because a person is serving on another rota on that date/time - a date clash week; it's entirely possible for someone to be serving in the worship team and then head off to lead a youth group after worship. These types of clash warning can be avoided by setting the ministry serving times to more accurately reflect the times when members are serving for each ministry in a service; but sometimes this isn't the case and genuine clashes may happen.

You can view a list of all rota clashes in the Rota Clashes report found in the Rotas module's reports section...

...or view the clashes within any rota form the Clashes page.

Within the Clashes page and Clashes report, unavailability clashes show with an 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 rota members from an existing rota date. Within the rota date that you're wanting to add people to, select Duplicate from date from the date action cog in the top-right corner of the rota date.

Select a date to Duplicate from the drop-down menu and optionally set whether to also Include team name and Include date notes in your target date. You can also choose to Remove existing members from the target date. Click Duplicate Date to confirm.

Swapping two dates

You can swap an entire list of people (including their assigned roles) between two dates on the same rota. Working within one of the dates on your rota, click the Date actions cog menu 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 a rota

To remove a person from a date on a rota, hover your cursor over their name and click the action cog next to their name. Select Remove member (or you can select Swap member to replace the current rota member - see earlier in this article).

When removing a person from a rota date, you can optionally select to Remove from all future dates on the same rota, and to additionally Remove from the linked ministry entirely.

Adding rota notes to highlight special dates on a rota

Special services, like baptism services that attract larger numbers than normal, can often catch us out - we might need more rota members that week. Rota Notes are rota-specific and allow you to add custom messages to dates on a rota as a reminder to rota overseers and rota members - like, "Baptism Service-more chairs needed" for your Setup/Set Down rota. Rota notes display on all rota reports and on the email rota reminder that rota members receive. Note that rota Notes added to one rota do not display on all rotas - they must be added to each rota to which they relate. See the separate support article on adding service notes to add notes that show on a group of rotas.

To add a rota note, hover the cursor over the date action cog in the top-right corner of a rota date and select Edit date.

Here you can now type your rota note. You can add multi-line rota notes and even include URL links if you wish. Click Save Changes when you are finished.

The rota note is added to that rota date, displayed under the team name. Any service notes will show above rota notes in italic font.

Adding further dates to a rota

You can easily add additional dates to a rota. Dates can only be added one at a time. Ordinarily churches will produce a new rota for the next term/season, rather than endlessly extending an existing rota. This method enables overseers to work on draft rotas before making them visible to rota members.

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 to save your changes.

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

Removing dates from a rota

You have two options. You can either select Clear date to removing all rota members from the date while leaving an empty date in place on the rota (perhaps for rota members to be added later); or you can select Delete date and remove the date entirely from the rota. In both cases, changes do not affect the underlying rota's Ministry, team structure, team members or roles.

To clear or delete a rota date, hover the cursor over the Date cog actions menu in the top-right corner of the rota date and select Clear date or Delete date as appropriate. You'll be asked to confirm.

Changing the times of a rota

The serving times for a rota are shown at the top of the rota's page. You can change these serving times at any time. Rota reminders and clash reporting will be updated to reflect changes to serving. Select Edit [rota] from the drop-down Edit menu.

On the Edit rota pop-up, amend the rota times as required and Save Changes. ChurchSuite will apply the time changes to all rota dates that had the original time, setting them to the new time(s) - however, any rota dates that had already been manually changed on a 'per date' basis (see below) will not be changed.

As well as making rota-wide changes to the serving time(s) of a rota, you can also change the serving time(s) on a 'per date' basis. From the Date cog actions menu in the top right corner of the rota date, select Edit date.

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

Communicating with a serving team on a rota date

Selecting the cog actions menu in the top-right corner of any rota Date, gives the option to Send email or Send SMS to just those rota members serving on that rota date.

Communicating rota changes to your serving teams

Importantly, rotas are always up to date when viewed by rota members in the My Rotas section in My ChurchSuite. In addition to the email and/or SMS reminders that rota members may receive (if enabled for the rota's underlying ministry), you may find it helpful to distribute the latest rota to your serving rota members - particularly if you've made lots of significant changes or are publishing a new rota. You have a variety of ways to do this, depending on what you wish to achieve...

The most likely, and quickest method is to simply select Send rota from the Communicate drop-down menu at the top of the rota page - the Send rota option is not available for rotas with a draft status.

This generates a personalised email with the rota and rota member contact list embedded into the body of the message. Simply add an email Subject, any custom greeting or introductory message you want to include in the body of the message before clicking to Preview Email the email.

When previewing the email, you have the option to add/remove recipients - perhaps to 'cc' the Senior Pastor or Sunday Service Coordinator...

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

Finally, choosing Send Email invokes the Rotas module's Communication page, pre-populating all the rota's members into the Communication page ready for you to compose your own email or other communication.

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 members, or to save the rota as a file in a church DropBox account.

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, past and future. 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 therefore distinguished by !! and -- characters in front of the rota member names.

You can also Print rota; perhaps to print a hard copy to display on the wall in the church office, or hand out paper copies to rota members who don't have email addresses or access to My ChurchSuite. 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 rota. The rota group email is used within My ChurchSuite for rota members to communicate. The rota's group email address is also visible in ChurchSuite on the rota page.

The email address is unique to each rota and can be distributed among your rota members; making it easier for them to send messages around the rota members, or to organise a swap. Any emails sent by a group member to the group email will be distributed to all rota or ministry team members (depending on the Rota module's options).

Renaming a rota

The rota name is set when the rota is first created. You can amend the rota name. To change the rota name, select Edit [rota] from the drop-down Edit menu at the top of the rota's page in ChurchSuite.

Edit the rota Name accordingly and click to Save Changes.

Rota changes logs

Inevitably, after a rota is first created, the rota will undergo many changes over the course of the rota's duration - people will be added, removed, roles added to changes, notes added, unavailability added, and swaps and sign-ups are processed. ChurchSuite maintains a Changes log for each of your rotas, making it easy to keep on top of the changes at any time. The log shows details of who made the changes, when the changes are made, and whether the changes we made by a user within ChurchSuite, or by an overseer or rota member from within My ChurchSuite.

When viewing a rota in ChurchSuite, select the Changes page.

The Recent Changes report in the Rotas module reports section lists all the changes for all your rotas. This report can be further filtered within a range of dates, or particular rotas or ministries - click Generate to apply any filter changes made and see the matching results.

A Date modification indicator is shown at the bottom of each rota date, showing when that rota's date was last changed. The modified time will show in bright orange when a change has just been made and will slowly get dimmer as time passes helping you spot recent changes....

Selecting View changes from a rota Date cog actions menu...

...displays a pop up modal listing all the changes related to that rota date.

Still need help? Contact ChurchSuite Contact ChurchSuite