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?

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Re-Post: How to Adjust the Date and Time for Photos in iPhoto

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.

One of my biggest frustrations with iPhoto was been figuring out the best way to sort my photos.  I prefer to sort by date, but for some reason my computer decided a bunch of my photos were taken in 2082.

Um, really?

Just today I realized that making this change is super simple; the solution has been staring me right in the face.  I generally consider myself pretty tech-savvy, but if this one was an alligator it would have reached out and bit off my nose.

If you you have photos listed in iPhoto with the wrong date and/or time, here’s how to fix them.

  1. Open iPhoto.
  2. Select the photos with incorrect dates; OR, if you have whole albums or events to adjust, select the the album or event in question.
  3. Click on “Photos” in the top toolbar.
  4. On the drop down menu select “Adjust Date and Time” if you are individually selecting photos (see #5 below) or select “Batch Change” if you are selecting whole events or albums (see #6 below).
  5. Under “Adjust Date and Time” simply select the incorrect date and/or time and change it to the correct date and/or time by typing in the info or using the up and down arrow buttons to the side of the information.  If you want to modify the original photo as I did, click on the box provided.  Finally click “Adjust” and the task will be done.
  6. Under “Batch Change” you can choose to edit the Title, Date or Description.  Select “Date” and then change the date and/or time information accordingly by typing in the correct information or using the up and down arrow buttons to the side of the information.  If you want to modify the original photo as I did, click on the box provided.  Afterwards, click “OK.”

Needless to say, I am now a happy camper and I imagine you will be, too.

If you know further tricks for modifying photo information, please share.  I’m all ears.

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?

How to Adjust the Date and Time for Photos in iPhoto

One of my biggest frustrations with iPhoto was been figuring out the best way to sort my photos.  I prefer to sort by date, but for some reason my computer decided a bunch of my photos were taken in 2082.

Um, really?

Just today I realized that making this change is super simple; the solution has been staring me right in the face.  I generally consider myself pretty tech-savvy, but if this one was an alligator it would have reached out and bit off my nose.

If you you have photos listed in iPhoto with the wrong date and/or time, here’s how to fix them.

  1. Open iPhoto.
  2. Select the photos with incorrect dates; OR, if you have whole albums or events to adjust, select the the album or event in question.
  3. Click on “Photos” in the top toolbar.
  4. On the drop down menu select “Adjust Date and Time” if you are individually selecting photos (see #5 below) or select “Batch Change” if you are selecting whole events or albums (see #6 below).
  5. Under “Adjust Date and Time” simply select the incorrect date and/or time and change it to the correct date and/or time by typing in the info or using the up and down arrow buttons to the side of the information.  If you want to modify the original photo as I did, click on the box provided.  Finally click “Adjust” and the task will be done.
  6. Under “Batch Change” you can choose to edit the Title, Date or Description.  Select “Date” and then change the date and/or time information accordingly by typing in the correct information or using the up and down arrow buttons to the side of the information.  If you want to modify the original photo as I did, click on the box provided.  Afterwards, click “OK.”

Needless to say, I am now a happy camper and I imagine you will be, too.

If you know further tricks for modifying photo information, please share.  I’m all ears.

The 6 D’s of Communication

Caveat: I am not a licensed therapist, and I don’t play one on TV. Read at your own risk.

Yesterday, at the age of 99, my grandmother passed away and went to be with the Lord. She had a wonderful and full life, and she had a great impact on me.

Her age also got me to thinking about when she was born (1913).

A lot has changed in 99 years:

  • The crossword puzzle was invented in 1913.
  • The Wright brothers flew their plane only 10 years earlier.
  • Adhesive tape would not be invented for another 10 years.
  • The Band-Aid would not be invented until 1920.

In 1913 relatively few methods of communication existed, but today the list of methods is long and varied:

  • Email
  • Texting/Messaging
  • Face-to-face conversation
  • Phone
  • Skype
  • Snail mail
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • and many more . .

Since (thanks to Apple) we have all of these options at our fingertips, what methods of communication should we choose?

If my office is a 2 minute walk from my colleague’s office and I need to tell them something brief, how should I do that?

If I have to challenge someone on a difficult topic, what is the healthiest method to use? When should I confront them, and where?

I have struggled long and hard to communicate in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place with my loved ones and close colleagues.

If you are struggling with the same issue, here are a few things to consider.

Consider the geographical and emotional distance.

Geography: If someone lives in another part of the country you obviously are not going to be able to talk in person, but how about using Skype? If you need to talk to your colleague down the hall, what is stopping you from taking a brief walk? You need the exercise, and in person conversations mean you can see someone’s body language, which is at least 70% of communication.

Emotions: Never communicate when you are overheated emotionally. Put some distance between you and the event so that you can communicate clearly and kindly. For some things all you may need is a minute or two, and for others you may need a night’s rest. Just don’t wait too long.

Consider the details.

Don’t attempt to have a detailed conversation via texting or email or Facebook messaging. You need to see someone’s body language, and you need to be able to enter into a deep discussion without being delayed by typing . . . and waiting . . . for a response . . . and then . . . getting the rest . . . of the message.

Find a place where you can sit down together and not be distracted, and make certain you have set aside enough time so you are not thinking about where you need to be next.

Consider the delicacy.

If you know that what you want to communicate is sensitive and could bring an emotional response, avoid technology. Period.

A friend once told me that if you need to use more than one smiley face 😄 in a text to lighten up your otherwise heavy or difficult message you should stop texting and pick up the phone. That rule has been extremely helpful to me.

Also, the more delicate your conversation the more diligent you should be to speak in “I” statements. “When you do such-and-such, I feel this way;” not “You are arrogant and I’m angry about it.”

Is it a decision?

Decisions must be made in person, face-to-face, unless emergency and distance prevent that. Truth be told, there are few emergencies in life (a sale at your favorite technology store or shoe store is NOT an emergency!).

Decisions must also be made with all of the key personnel present. If someone cannot make the meeting, don’t make the decision. If you are overhauling something, always involve the person or people affected. Otherwise you risk division and bitterness.

Consider the delivery.

Give the grace you wish to receive. Just yesterday a drummer called me and said he might not be able to make rehearsal because of a family change in transportation. I had the choice to either get in his face or to help him. I gladly jumped in the car and made the hour round trip, and the resulting connection and camaraderie was awesome.

We as leaders can get so frustrated with feeling like volunteers are bailing on us. Just remember you are in ministry for people and not to turn out a product.

Finally, consider the potential for damage.

In relation to what medium you use, do you really want to use Twitter to ream someone out? Is Facebook the best place to vent your frustration with your job? Do half a billion people really need to know what is going on in your bedroom? Really?

Communication is a learned art for everyone and has the potential to build up or destroy relationships and the people you love.

It’s up to you.

How can you communicate more effectively and compassionately with your colleagues and loved ones?

morning update

I guess you all have become my accountability group where I ‘fess up if I don’t prep the way I should.  Last week I was enjoying the invigorating times working early in the morning and getting to bed a bit earlier.  This week I have had a really hard time getting up early and being creative before tapping into technology.  I have been able to spend a lot of time writing this morning and a little earlier this week (at a gas station!!), but that is it.  This weekend my boys will be with me and so I am considering my options for being creative before Monday.

On the plus side yesterday I began a new music project – a small piece for my choir to sing as a call to worship – which was really fun.

I’m curious: what morning routines work for you, and how successful have you been this week in those routines?