If you are not intentional, it is inevitable. Your paperwork is outdated. It happens oh, so accidentally. You find yourself one day with your program humming along as it always has, but something causes you to go through the programs forms on file a bit more slowly. As you thumb through the pages questions arise such as, “I thought we had a space for this on the page,” or “This would be so much better if we included this on these intakes.”
The fact is, forms or paperwork are only as good as their last review. Registration that we developed 5 years ago is outdated. We have new insights on special needs over the past 5 years that you might be wise to ask about on registration forms. The same is true of volunteer screening, financial applications, and myriad other data-gathering resources we establish.
Allow me to share an anecdote with you. Our ministry had been using a standard form for respite registration for years under the direction of a phenomenal leader. She was tremendously gifted with the children and got to know each of them well. After she left us, I began going through the paperwork in an effort to help the new leader get to know some of the nuances of our regular attenders. As I sought to organize things in a way that would be easier for our new respite leader to manage, I noticed that I would like to add some things into our registration such as whether a child is sensory seeking or sensory avoidant. I would like to ask better questions of the parents in regards to what their child’s triggers might be. And the list continues.
It is too easy to work with the default habit that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yet, if we want to do anything that we do with excellence, we need to stay on top of these small details.
Other contributing factors change over the years as well. For example, online registration 5 years ago was not anywhere near what it is today. One leader in an online leadership forum I belong to recently brought up the notion of using a free resource like PlanetReg for online registration set-up. Other organizations or churches establish their own online platform. Many still use PDF files. All of that is a matter of preference. Regardless, leadership should operate with an awareness that the methods being used now will need to be reexamined in the near future.
Why not have this as part of the rhythm of your annual calendar? Review every piece of paperwork that your ministry uses. See if there are any new questions to be asked or information to be gathered. Determine if there is something that is antiquated and needs to be eliminated. Make sure your webmaster is apprised of any needed updates or corrections. If you commit a specific date on your calendar to doing this type of review, you will actually make the time for it rather than putting it off.
When we keep our information current, detailed and pertinent, our ministry runs more efficiently. We are more successful at providing the quality of interaction to which we aspire. We’re happier, and so are those we serve.
What are your methods of reviewing or updating forms? We would love to hear!