Getting started with the Planning module
Purpose of the module
The Planning module enables churches to easily produce plans for services, events and bookings (or to create an entirely unlinked plan). Plans are a great way to keep everyone in the loop about the running order for an occasion, so that those involved know precisely who's doing what and when within the running order. Essentially, plans keep the occasion and those involved on track.
Planning module features at a glance
- Create unlinked plans or plans linked to services, events or bookings
- Assign library or ad hoc items to a plan, optionally set each plan item's duration and start time or run the plan's items consecutively
- Customise plan item 'types' and build and maintain your own library of plan items, such as songs, hymns, prayers, liturgy and all the other elements that comprise plans
- Create templates for commonly-used plans
- Upload files to library items and plans for easy file sharing - ideal for chord charts and lyric sheets
- Assign people to plan items - either ad hoc or using criteria to link to rotas - as your rotas change, your plans remain up to date
- Publish and share plan pages with ease
- In-built CCLI tracking and reporting
- Download and share plans to MediaShout
- Stay on time by seeing real time plan progress when the plan is running
- Integrates seamlessly with services, events and bookings in your Rotas, Calendar and Bookings modules
Overview of the Planning module
In terms of key terminology used within the module, a Plan is essentially an ordered list of items representing the various elements that make up the plan. Plan items run consecutively from the plan's start time, with each item running for a specified duration, unless an optional fixed start time is specified for a particular item.
At the heart of the Planning module is the Library of items. We've made it really easy to build and manage your Library - either by adding items manually or importing items from a CSV file.
Before adding or importing Library items you'll first need to set up the various library item Types; Library items are categorised into Types. For example, you might have Types for:
- set prayers
- songs and hymns
- notices and announcements
For each item Type, you can optionally add custom Questions so that you can store Responses for all the different pieces of information you need for the Library items you'll add. For example, for a 'Song' Type, you'll likely want to have Questions for 'Artist', 'Key' and 'Tempo'. You can also enable CCLI tracking on that 'Song' Type - or indeed on any Type if you wish.
In addition to Single Sentence and Paragraph 'text' type Questions, you can also add Questions with Drop-Down List, Radio List, Checkbox List and Date Response types. The Question types also include some other handy tools like a Bible verse Picker, a Spotify song linker and a Video file link field.
Having set up your Library item Types you can then begin to populate the Library, assigning each item added or imported to an item Type. The Planning module comes with a number of example Types and Library items to help get you started - these can be further customised or deleted if they are not relevant to your context.
When creating a Plan, you can select items from the Library or you can add ad hoc items. For Library items added to a Plan, you can change any of the Library item Responses to make the item specific to that Plan without those changes altering the item in the underlying Library.
Getting started - it's as easy as 1, 2, 3...
It's helpful to begin by visiting the Types section to review the pre-installed Types, further customising them or adding new Types as appropriate to your context.
Next, start building your Library. You don't have to pre-populate your entire library right away - you can add items as you go if you wish. If you've enabled CCLI tracking for a "Song" Type then you'll find it helpful to start adding CCLI Numbers against songs that you add to your library. This will help you later on when you need to produce your CCLI song usage report for a range of dates - we've made that a simple button click exercise! Perhaps begin by adding a few commonly used songs - we've pre-installed a few to get you started! See the related support article for further information on managing Library items and customising Types.
Add your first plan! Yes, it really is that simple. Head into the Plans section and click Add plan.
Create a plan from scratch or select a Template. Optionally set whether the plan is Linked to a service, event or booking. Give your plan a Name, Date and start Time - that's all you need to create a blank plan ready to start adding plan items - you can add as much or as little detail to your plans as you like.
The Planning module includes a wide range of standard reports for common admin tasks or to help you drill down into the content of your Planning module data for strategic purposes or historic reporting. Filter reports to see just what you're looking for and then download, print or send the report or communicate directly with those in the report's results.
In order to explore many of the Planning module's features and functionality you'll need to add or import some data. It's easy to do. See the related support articles at the end of this article for further details.
Got a question?
You’ll find the answers to most questions in our support articles - they're all available through the Support beacon located in the bottom-right corner of each page in the Planning module - just search by topic, phrase or keyword. You can also access the Support Article library on our website. And if you still can't find something you're looking for, click to get in touch with one of the ChurchSuite team - we’re happy to help!