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
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 change logs

Publishing a draft rota

When you create a rota for a Ministry it is created with a draft status. This allows you to continue to make changes to the rota without it being visible to rota members in My ChurchSuite until you are ready. You can easily identify draft rotas in the list...

Once the draft rota is ready to be Published, either select Publish from the rota list actions (shown above), or open the rota, noting the information message confirming the draft status, and click Publish to make the rota visible in My ChurchSuite.

A success message confirms the rota is 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 from the drop-down Edit menu at the top of the rota page.

Here, in addition to other rota settings explained later in this article, you can change the rota Status between Draft and Published. Remember that draft rotas are only visible to ministry overseers in My ChurchSuite and 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 to role-based ministries where you need to quickly identify if you have sufficient serving team members in each role on any given date. In role order, roles are sorted in the order set in "Rotas" > "Roles" - note that you can change the role order of each ministry (perhaps having key roles like 'leader' at the top), by using the up/down re-order controls. Note that a rota order change made here is temporary and only applies to the rota being viewed - when you close and return to the rota, the order will revert. To make a permanent change to the rota order, select to Edit the rota settings and change the rota order as required.

Name order example

Role order example

In Role order, hovering your cursor over a role reveals the "+Add [to role]" option, allowing you to add people directly to a role on that rota date (irrespective of any roles that person may be assigned in the underlying ministry).

Adding people to the rota

Click "Add to date" to open the "search" option. From the list of ministry members, scroll and select a name from the list, or "Search for person..." to add someone ad hoc from your Address Book or Children module who isn't yet a member of the Ministry. 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).

By default, adding a rota member from the list to a date will add that person with the role(s) they are assigned in the underlying ministry, however you can easily assign different roles by selecting to "Edit roles" once they've been added. When using "Search for people..." to add ad hoc people to a rota date, they are without a role - you can use the "Add role" option to assign a role(s) if you wish.

The +Add to date" pop up has the option to search from "[Ministry] Members" or "Teams" (see screenshot below) - simply click "Teams" to view the list of the ministry's teams and add an entire team of people to a rota date. Note that adding ministry members will always add those people with their assigned ministry role(s) - however, ad hoc roles can be added or removed on the rota without affecting the roles assigned in the underlying ministry.

When viewing people on a rota, hovering over a person's name will highlight all other dates/roles on the rota that person is serving

Enabling rota sign-up

A great feature of ChurchSuite rotas rota sign-up. Rota sign-up allows serving team members in the underlying ministry to sign-up to available future dates on a published rota in My ChurchSuite. You can set a maximum capacity for all dates on a rota, or you can set a 'per date' capacity - perhaps for 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 people 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 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. If you only want to solicit sign-ups for one or two dates on your rota (perhaps 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. 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.

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 will be able to view active and future 'sign-up' rotas in My ChurchSuite, and select which rota to sign-up for ("sign-up" rotas are distinguished with a 'tick' icon in My Rotas)...

...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 see the rota and sign-up - the rota is not visible to non-ministry members - it's therefore not currently possible for non-ministry members to join a rota through sign-up - they must first be added to a team in the ministry and then they can sign up.

When signing up to rota dates, the ministry member will be assigned their role(s) assigned in the underlying Ministry and they'll be able to select from their assigned roles. Note that ministry members can only select from their assigned ministry roles - a ministry member 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 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 a rota 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.

A progress indicator is also shown on sign-up 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 display the actual number of rota date spaces filled, out of the total sign-up capacity for that date.

Children on rotas

You can add children to rotas (e.g. members of your youth) - distinguished by a child icon in front of their name. This is done in exactly the same was as adding an adult. 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 overseers can Add unavailability for a serving team members directly on a rota. Unavailability can either be added from the Date action cog (top right corner of a rota date)...

...selecting the team member (person) - the date is pre-selected. You can set the unavailability date/time details and optional description before clicking Save Changes...

Or, they can Add unavailability from the particular rota member's action cog...

...which will pre-populate the Add unavailability form with the all the details of that team member (person). Again, you can set the unavailability date/time details and optional description before clicking Save Changes.

Unavailability is distinguished on the rota in red strikethrough.

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. 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.

Here you can add further unavailability, or navigate to Rotas > Unavailability to see 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. These can be changed within 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 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 action cog menu appears. For rota members without a role, select Add role.

For rota 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 related to the Ministry. 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 new rota members or move rota members 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 in multiple rotas that 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 "Rotas" > "Reports" > Rota Clashes report at any time...

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

Within the Clashes page, 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 the team name and rota date notes in your target date. You can also choose to remove any existing rota 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 action cog 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).

In addition to removing a person from that single rota date, you can optionally select to remove them from all other future dates on the rota, and to additionally remove them 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 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. 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 extend an existing rota. This method enables overseers to work on draft rotas before making them visible to rota members. It also prevents ad hoc people who may have served once in the past from continuing to receive 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" 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 member to be added later); or you can select Delete date to the date and the assigned rota members entirely from the rota. In both case, such changes do not affect the underlying rota's Ministry, team structure, team members or roles.

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

To delete a date from your rota entirely, hover the cursor over the action cog in the top-right corner of the rota date and select Delete date. 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 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] from the drop-down Edit menu.

Amend the rota 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 had previously been changed manually on a 'per date' basis will not be changed.

As well as making rota-wide time changes to a rota, you can also change the serving times on a 'per date' basis. From the date action cog 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. This change will only apply to this single date 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

Importantly, rotas are always up to date when viewed by rota members in the My Rotas section in My ChurchSuite. In addition to the rota reminders they may receive (if enabled for the rota's underlying ministry), you may also wish 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. This generates a personalised email with the rota and serving team contact list embedded into the body of the message. Simply add an email subject, any custom message greeting or introductory message you want to include in the body of the message before clicking to preview and send/schedule the email. 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 (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 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, and automatically pushes all the rota members through to 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 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 a 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 created - a combination of the ministry name and serving start time.

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

Edit your rota Name accordingly and click to Save Changes.

Rota change 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 a rota date, showing when that 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 quickly as easily....

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

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