Best of MSP Google Group User Suggestions

Learning something new can feel daunting. But a supportive community makes all the difference. This is why Ministry Scheduler Pro’s active Google Group of nearly 900 members is one of MSP’s biggest perks. It’s a space for users to find answers to many common scheduling questions in a real world context.

We’re both proud of and thankful for the active MSP community. Below is a compilation of some of their best suggestions. These are just the tip of the iceberg of what users will find when they join the group and leverage the experiences of other MSP users.

What do ministry leaders do now that they don’t have to schedule their ministries?

Tim: We recently started using MSP .[…] The bulk of [ministry leaders’] job[s] used to be scheduling, but now that’s done by the staff person who runs the auto-scheduler. For those of you who have been doing this for a while now, what do your ministry leaders do?

Emily: I value the "review" part of ministry leaders' contributions during the draft stage [of scheduling], especially during Lent and Holy Week. Ministry leaders also use the Emailer if they notice an upcoming service lacks volunteers. One ministry leader posts weekly instructions for volunteers in a specific ministry to ensure everyone knows what to do.

How much time does it take to manage MSP?

Suzanne: I am wondering: how much time do you find you spend managing MSP per week?

Linda: On a weekly basis, just about no time! We manage just about 200 volunteers in 6 ministries for 3 weekend Masses (4 in the summer) and Holy Days. The big crunch is around scheduling time. For each schedule, I'd say we spend around 10 hours doing prep work, including meeting with our Pastor, and then maybe another 2-3 hours of fine-tuning before we run and publish the schedule. We tend to schedule out 3 months at a time so that work only happens about 4 times a year. The rest of the time, there's little to do except add or remove volunteers.

Jeff: Week to week, I'm in MSP maybe one hour, reviewing web forms and accommodating change requests. As a ministry team, we are constantly coaching [and] encouraging individual volunteers to manage their profiles and sub requests on their own.

How do you fill volunteer slots for Holy Days?

Emily: For a long time, my parish has had volunteer sign ups for Holy Days through the Web Terminal and by contacting the office. In recent years, it's been increasingly difficult [to find] enough volunteers to sign up. Our neighboring parish just auto schedules folks for Holy Days and lets them find replacements if needed. […] What’s your method?

Jad8953: We do exactly what your neighboring parish does. Just let MSP auto schedule anyone for the Holy Days, since everyone will go to Services for the Holy Day. And, if the volunteers are unable to serve, they ask for a sub. It seems to work well.

John: We treat Holy Days as opt-in services, e.g., the service must be in [a volunteer’s] preferences. Then we run the auto-scheduler and rely on volunteers to fill in the blanks afterwards.

How do we encourage volunteers to log in to the Web Terminal to update their profile?

David: I thought I'd share this tip. When I first started using MSP, I had difficulty getting [volunteers] to login. As you know, the more up-to-date the profile is, especially "can't serve" times, the better your whole program works. So I created a nifty little custom token to remind users to login and update their profile. But once they login, they don't get reminders anymore.

Lucia: Thanks David! Being new to MSP I really appreciate the user tips!

How do I get the “All Available Positions” email so I know what positions need to be filled?

Marcia: I am wondering if it is possible to have the "All Available Positions" email, which I have scheduled to go out every Thursday, to copy me as the administrator with the actual positions that are not Filled or Swap Requested.

Tom: I have added myself with the skills I want to monitor, i.e., Lector, server, senior server, as sub only so that the scheduler does not auto schedule me. Then, when it sends out the "all available positions" email, I get them all.

With so much experience and knowledge in one place, both new and seasoned schedulers alike can find value in the MSP Google group. It’s a place to learn, grow, and share with people who understand what it means to be a ministry scheduler. If you’re not yet a part, come and join the community!

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