Remote working or great collaboration?


Mansys logoThe Revd David Brooke and the Revd Jeremy Thomas have been working tirelessly since with our IT providers since just before Christmas alongside to implement a new IT platform. The goal was to ensure that the tools we use every day were really supporting the collaborative working that is part of the Church Wigan vision. The infrastructure is provided to Church Wigan by the Wigan Deanery Trust, supported by our IT provider, ManSys, based in Leeds. Here, David tells a bit of the story, and why it has proved so timely.

"It's hard to believe that it is less than six months now since we were working with Wigan Deanery Trust to select an IT provider. Neither we nor they could have anticipated that it would prove so much the right thing at the right time. Trying to get clergy to change the ways they work can be like nailing jelly to the wall, but I think you could ask any of my colleagues now, and they can't imagine going back.

"We'd already been implementing a piece of specialist software called iKnow Church, which is a membership database for our churches, with a lot of other bells and whistles such as room booking management, rota management, and management of communication with our members. As you can imagine, features like room booking management are on the back burner for now, but having a full membership database has really helped our pastoral care and communications during the lockdown. I use it every day, over and over.

Microsoft Teams logo"But what we worked with ManSys to put in place was a complete Microsoft 365 system, taking advantage of Microsoft's non-profit pricing. We knew that having our own email system and ways of sharing files would be an asset, but we never dreamed that Microsoft's Teams (you've probably seen the ads on TV) would make such a difference for us when the lockdown arrived. We use tools like Zoom as well, but Teams has given us ways of collaborating on documents, sharing schedules and plans, and just working a lot more closely and effectively.

"Starting from nowhere just before Christmas, we now have 30 fully licensed users across Wigan Deanery Trust and Church Wigan, and another 45 on cloud licences. With guest users who are members of one or teams, there are 116 users in total! It was hard work, but it was well worth it. Our users have embraced the systems wholeheartedly, and when they do have problems we can solve them on a short Teams call, lockdown or no lockdown.

"The latest thing that the trust has been able to support us with is creating eye-catching graphics. Social media platforms have been a central part of keeping our pastoral care going, and supporting our church and wider communities during the pandemic. But we were finding it hard to produce quality graphics. The trust has been able to get us up and running on a non-profit team licence with Canva, the online graphic-design tool. Now we can quickly create and share designs for logos, facebook banners, and so on. I'm no graphic designer, but it has really smartened up our social media in the communities I serve, and we're connecting with more people than ever before through these channels.

"The bottom line is that we would have reallly struggled to do any of this without our partnership with iKnow, ManSys, and above all the Wigan Deanery Trust."

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Page last updated: 21st April 2020 8:40 AM
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