How to See Blocked Out Dates When Scheduling in Planning Center Services

Our church uses Planning Center Services to schedule volunteers and plan worship services.  Under Services volunteers can actually block out dates that they will be gone so that schedulers do not waste time by scheduling people for dates when they will be gone.

Planning Center Services

Recently I found myself scheduling people for dates they had blocked out. Needless to say, I was frustrated. My volunteers were doing what I asked them to do by blocking out the dates they are gone, but I was not seeing that information when I added them to a service. Not seeing this information also added lots of time to my scheduling because I had to fix the mistakes as people informed me they would be gone.

I fired off a quick email to Planning Center Services tech support and I received a prompt reply. Their answer was simple and direct and I learned something I have not known since I began using Planning Center.

In order to demonstrate what I learned, let’s add someone to a service.

I want to add a Presenter for Announcements on July 21, so let’s go to the service flow page for that date and open up the “Presenter” positions category on the left of the screen. There I find “1 person needed” under “Announcements.”

Planning Center Services - Service Flow - "1 person needed"

When I click on the “1 person needed” window, this is what I see:

Planning Center Services - Select People for Announcements Window - no blocked out dates

In reality four of those people are unavailable, but I will not be able to see that information until I fix a small issue.

In order to see who is unavailable, I need to click “cancel” on this window and return to the main service flow page. When I get there I need to click on the Service Time in the upper left hand corner:

Planning Center Services - Service Flow - Service Times

After clicking on the Service Time I see this window:

Planning Center Services - Editing Time Window - unchecked Assigned People Categories

You can see the red oval around the unchecked boxes. In order for me to see the blocked out dates when I schedule someone their category of service needs to be checked here.

Planning Center Services - Editing Time Window - checked Assigned People Categories

Now that the categories are checked off, I am going to return to the service flow page and click on the “1 person needed” window under “Announcements” to see if I see anything different:

Planning Center Services - Select People for Announcements - blocked out datesNow I can clearly see that four of the people have blocked out July 21 on their calendar and I will be able to avoid scheduling them.

Thanks to Planning Center Services’ prompt tech support I am up and running smoothly again.

When you create a Service Time, Rehearsal Time, or Other Time, make certain you have checked the boxes for the relevant “Assigned People Categories” to make certain you can see their blocked out dates while scheduling.

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Re-Post: A Guide to Planning Center Online Permission Levels

Throughout the month of April I am taking a break from writing in order to focus on other things.  As a result I am re-posting some of my most popular articles.

Planning Center Online (PCO) is a powerful resource for churches, but it can also be complicated.  Permission levels is one of those potentially confusing features.

PCO provides multiple permission settings for each person.  For instance, if your church is like ours, several ministries use PCO.  At our church Worship Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and Student Ministries use PCO.  As a result every person has four permission settings:

  • Site Permissions
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Student Ministries
  • Worship Ministry

The other day I noticed that our setup of PCO had 10 people listed as Administrators at the Site level, which is inviting disaster to camp out on your doorstep.  I have since adjusted permission levels accordingly.

Let me share my reasoning with you.

Several years ago I was editing categories for my people on PCO and I decided that a particular category was incorrect – not matching across the program.  I deleted it.  Then I found out that I had just deleted all of the activity under that heading throughout my PCO history.  Oops.

Those are the kinds of things that can happen when someone has Administrator privileges and does not know what they are doing.  Needless to say, I am much more careful now, and I train people to watch out for those hiccups.

PCO provides four permission levels in addition to Administrator.  Here are the permission levels in PCO, with PCO’s own descriptions:

  • Scheduled Viewer: Can only view plans that they have been scheduled for and that the notification email has been sent.
  • Viewer: Can view all plans & songs.
  • Scheduler: Can view all plans & songs. Can edit & schedule people.
  • Editor: Can edit all plans, people & songs.
  • Administrator: Can change permissions for the service (templates & categories).

I find it helpful to think about the different levels this way:

  • Scheduled Viewer: Use this level if you want the person to only have access to song, plan, media and people information when they are scheduled for an event.  At all other times they will only be able to access their own personal contact information and calendar.
  • Viewer: A person with this permission level can always access songs and media, view plans, and see contact information for other people, whether or not they have been scheduled.
  • Scheduler: Use this level for volunteers who help you schedule people.  They can edit people information, but they cannot edit anything else.  In every other area they are at the same level as a Viewer.
  • Editor: Volunteers who help with service planning, people management, and song entry need this level of permission.  These people are only restricted from global ministry category and template editing, which is reserved for Administrators.

The Site level permission setting determines the default permission level for the person throughout PCO.  If a person is set as a Viewer at the Site level they will have Viewer privileges in every ministry.  If a person is an Administrator at the Site level they will have Administrator privileges in every ministry.

In order to manage these different levels of permission PCO also provides two other permission modifiers:

  • Disabled: User cannot login and is excluded from all emails and is not able to be scheduled.  This modifier is only used at the Site level.
  • Same as Parent: Will use the same permissions as the group above that service. If there is not a group above it, it will inherit the site permissions.  This modifier is only used at the Ministry level and is the default setting.

I recommend Scheduled Viewer as the default setting for every volunteer and guest artist.

If you have people who are Administrators, Schedulers, or Editors you will want to decide if you want them to have those privileges in every ministry or just one ministry If your answer is every ministry set the Site permission level to the proper setting and leave the Ministry permissions at Same as Parent.  If your answer is just one ministry, then set the Site permission to your default permission for everyone (in my case, that is Scheduled Viewer) and then give them the proper permission level for the specific ministry.  Then make certain the other ministry permissions are set to the default level as well.

Finally, if you have a volunteer who moves out of state and no longer serves in your ministry, DO NOT DELETE THEM from PCO.  If you do you will lose all of their serving history.  Simply change their Site permission level to Disabled.  Their name will disappear from the People contact page but will remain in the history.  If you ever need to pull them back up you can go to the upper left hand side of the People page and select “View disabled accounts.”

A few important comments from Aaron Stewart, Product Manager for Planning Center Online:

Permissions are also what give people access to the main top tabs (Plans, Media, Songs, People). If you set a site or ANY permission to Viewer, those people can now access everything on the songs tab, the media tab, and the people tab. They can listen to and access any files and get to other people’s contact information. For this reason, we generally recommend you leave the site permission set to Scheduled Viewer unless you really want the person to access everything in all the other tabs.

From a song copyright standpoint and a people privacy standpoint, it’s usually not ideal to give this access to your regular volunteers. There is a way for you to change a master site setting so that Viewers can’t see the people page, but they will still be able to get to the song and media pages.

What strategy do you use in handling PCO permission levels?

Planning Center Online: Where Should I Store My Files?

Planning Center Online (PCO) provides many options for storing media files and other documents.  The challenge is utilizing the different levels of storage to your advantage.

Here are the options for storing files.

Songs

For every song there is a Main Page where copyright and other universal song information is stored.  To the left side of this page is a place where you can store attachments related to this individual song.  To store an attachment here, simply click the “Add an Attachment” button and follow the prompts.

At the bottom of the Main Song page is a place to add arrangements.  If you go to an arrangement page you will find a place on the left for attachments at the arrangement level.  As above, click the “Add an Attachment” button on the left side of the screen and follow the prompts.

Because you are adding this file at the arrangement level, when the file has been uploaded a little button to the right of the title will say Arrangement as the default placement for the file.  If you click on that button you will also find that you can store the uploaded file under a specific key.  If the arrangement has more than one key, you will see every key as an option storage location.

Once you select the proper key or simply the arrangement the file will appear on the left side of the screen under the proper designation.

Plans

Attachments may also be added on the right side of the main plans page.

For instance, when I click the Plans tab for Worship Ministry at my church, a screen comes up that has My Schedule at the top and then the three headings we use below it: Classic Worship, Modern Worship, and Special Services.  Under each header you will find the list of services associated with that header.  You will also find a window specifically for storing attachments to the far right side of the screen.  Attachments that are stored in this area automatically appear on every plan you create under that heading.

In my case, under our Classic Worship header I store our Choir Schedule for the year and Leadership Notes for our Classic Worship Leaders.  If I click any plan those attachments will be located to the bottom left of the screen under Attachments / Classic Worship Attachments.

Just below this area on the bottom left of every plan is a place to add attachments just to a particular plan.

Media

When you create a new media piece you can add attachments for that particular entry on the left of the page for each specific media piece.

But how do you decide what file to store where?

I’m glad you asked.  Here are a few guidelines I follow.

Songs

  1. Only store files at the Main Page level that are universal for every arrangement under that song.  An example would be the master lyric projection files or background images for a song.
  2. Under the Arrangement level attach files that are universal for that arrangement.  An example would be the primary recording on which you are basing your arrangement.
  3. If you have multiple keys for an Arrangement, store key-specific files under the proper key.  If the song, for instance, is in A but the melody is too high you may want to do the song in G.  In that case you would want to store the original mp3 under the key of A, then click on the up-down blue arrows just to the right of the mp3 in order to transpose the mp3 to G.  The transposed mp3 will automatically appear under a different key heading to separate it from the original.

Why store attachments under specific keys rather than just on the Main Page or under the general attachment heading?  The answer has to do with how those charts are accessed on the service flow page.

When you add a song to the service flow you will be prompted to choose the proper key.  For instance, at our church we do the song 10,000 Reasons in F and G.  When I have chosen the specific key the files related to that key as well as any universal Arrangement files AND Main Page files will appear.  If you store files for a different key on the Main Page or at the universal Arrangement level those incorrect files will appear with the correct ones, confusing the musicians.

Plans

  1. Store attachments that are universal for every plan under a specific header at the header level.  An example is a choir schedule or general guidelines for worship leaders.
  2. Store attachments that are specifically related to one plan only at the plan level.  A great example here would be rehearsal recordings for that week or the stage diagram for that particular Sunday.

Media

Here every file is stored in one place for each individual media piece.

In summary, PCO gives you a lot of flexibility.  Spending a few minutes ahead of time to think through how you store your files can save a lot of confusion for your volunteers in the long run.

How do you use the storage options on Planning Center Online?

A Guide to Planning Center Online Permission Levels

NOTE:  I have updated this blog post based on Aaron’s comments below.  Thanks, Aaron, for the clarification!  Maurice 

Planning Center Online (PCO) is a powerful resource for churches, but it can also be complicated.  Permission levels is one of those potentially confusing features.

PCO provides multiple permission settings for each person.  For instance, if your church is like ours, several ministries use PCO.  At our church Worship Ministry, Children’s Ministry, and Student Ministries use PCO.  As a result every person has four permission settings:

  • Site Permissions
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Student Ministries
  • Worship Ministry

The other day I noticed that our setup of PCO had 10 people listed as Administrators at the Site level, which is inviting disaster to camp out on your doorstep.  I have since adjusted permission levels accordingly.

Let me share my reasoning with you.

Several years ago I was editing categories for my people on PCO and I decided that a particular category was incorrect – not matching across the program.  I deleted it.  Then I found out that I had just deleted all of the activity under that heading throughout my PCO history.  Oops.

Those are the kinds of things that can happen when someone has Administrator privileges and does not know what they are doing.  Needless to say, I am much more careful now, and I train people to watch out for those hiccups.

PCO provides four permission levels in addition to Administrator.  Here are the permission levels in PCO, with PCO’s own descriptions:

  • Scheduled Viewer: Can only view plans that they have been scheduled for and that the notification email has been sent.
  • Viewer: Can view all plans & songs.
  • Scheduler: Can view all plans & songs. Can edit & schedule people.
  • Editor: Can edit all plans, people & songs.
  • Administrator: Can change permissions for the service (templates & categories).

I find it helpful to think about the different levels this way:

  • Scheduled Viewer: Use this level if you want the person to only have access to song, plan, media and people information when they are scheduled for an event.  At all other times they will only be able to access their own personal contact information and calendar.
  • Viewer: A person with this permission level can always access songs and media, view plans, and see contact information for other people, whether or not they have been scheduled.
  • Scheduler: Use this level for volunteers who help you schedule people.  They can edit people information, but they cannot edit anything else.  In every other area they are at the same level as a Viewer.
  • Editor: Volunteers who help with service planning, people management, and song entry need this level of permission.  These people are only restricted from global ministry category and template editing, which is reserved for Administrators.

The Site level permission setting determines the default permission level for the person throughout PCO.  If a person is set as a Viewer at the Site level they will have Viewer privileges in every ministry.  If a person is an Administrator at the Site level they will have Administrator privileges in every ministry.

In order to manage these different levels of permission PCO also provides two other permission modifiers:

  • Disabled: User cannot login and is excluded from all emails and is not able to be scheduled.  This modifier is only used at the Site level.
  • Same as Parent: Will use the same permissions as the group above that service. If there is not a group above it, it will inherit the site permissions.  This modifier is only used at the Ministry level and is the default setting.

I recommend Scheduled Viewer as the default setting for every volunteer and guest artist.

If you have people who are Administrators, Schedulers, or Editors you will want to decide if you want them to have those privileges in every ministry or just one ministry If your answer is every ministry set the Site permission level to the proper setting and leave the Ministry permissions at Same as Parent.  If your answer is just one ministry, then set the Site permission to your default permission for everyone (in my case, that is Scheduled Viewer) and then give them the proper permission level for the specific ministry.  Then make certain the other ministry permissions are set to the default level as well.

Finally, if you have a volunteer who moves out of state and no longer serves in your ministry, DO NOT DELETE THEM from PCO.  If you do you will lose all of their serving history.  Simply change their Site permission level to Disabled.  Their name will disappear from the People contact page but will remain in the history.  If you ever need to pull them back up you can go to the upper left hand side of the People page and select “View disabled accounts.”

A few important comments from Aaron Stewart, Product Manager for Planning Center Online:

Permissions are also what give people access to the main top tabs (Plans, Media, Songs, People). If you set a site or ANY permission to Viewer, those people can now access everything on the songs tab, the media tab, and the people tab. They can listen to and access any files and get to other people’s contact information. For this reason, we generally recommend you leave the site permission set to Scheduled Viewer unless you really want the person to access everything in all the other tabs.

From a song copyright standpoint and a people privacy standpoint, it’s usually not ideal to give this access to your regular volunteers. There is a way for you to change a master site setting so that Viewers can’t see the people page, but they will still be able to get to the song and media pages.

What strategy do you use in handling PCO permission levels?

worship hubs

Recently I have been perusing the worship world for apps and connecting points for worship leaders, pastors and service producers.  I have been using Planning Center Online almost since it began and am a major fan, but I am convinced we have only reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible in worship service planning.

For those of you who are worship leaders, what online tools do you use in your planning?

For those of you who have bands, do you use online planning tools?  If so, which ones?

For all of the musicians out there, what hardware tools do you use (metronome, tuner, etc.) that you would love to see incorporated into an online tool or iPhone/iPad app?

In your ideal world, what would the perfect online tool or app for worship planning look like?