The other day, I asked one of our Facilities Techs why they had not completed their weekly check-in. They said the app wasn’t working on their phone. Since they had a computer in their office, it was odd that they used the app on their phone. They explained that the shared computer in their office was too slow and often unable to perform simple online tasks. Since this was the first I had heard of the issue, I went to investigate, hoping to put a quick end to the situation. Unfortunately, this shared computer outlived its life expectancy a few years ago; it was time for something newer. While it’s not a mystery that all equipment, especially IT equipment, eventually wears out, developing a strategy to replace equipment requires planning and money.
Technology is Throughout the Church
Like it or not, technology plays a significant role in accomplishing the church’s mission. We can find technology integrated into almost every facet of the church, like online streaming, audio/visual elements of the worship service, children’s check-in, connecting to a WiFi, Voice over IP phones, and, of course, running the operations of the church with accounting software, church management software, and the website and social media platforms. In fact, 93% of churches surveyed in the 2021 State of Church Technology report believe technology is essential in achieving their church’s mission. For something this crucial, churches must have a plan to ensure the hardware and software are updated and replaced with intentionality. Yet, it’s easy for churches without an IT team (or person) to overlook until something like the facilities team computer no longer functions. Unless the church is flush with cash and can buy expensive equipment whenever needed, a plan is necessary.
As mentioned above, churches have various types of tech equipment running their church – routers, hubs, access points, tablets, desktops, laptops, etc. Each has a different life span, depending upon the investment in the equipment. For example, an iMac typically lasts between 8 and 10 years vs. a PC that can go 4 to 6 years. But the cost of an iMac is more significant than most PCs. Regardless of the equipment, here’s a simple replacement plan based on its life expectancy.
- Inventory and Assess: Identify all of the IT equipment at the church and track the purchase date, purchase amount, location, operating system, processor, and memory. Churches without an inventory system can use a spreadsheet or free asset tracking system like Asset Tiger to keep this information in one centralized location.
- Replacement Strategy: After inventorying all of the IT equipment, identify the oldest and most vulnerable pieces of equipment. A solid strategy is replacing the oldest third of your computers annually. However, there are exceptions; for example, a computer running video elements of a worship service may not be the oldest, but to continue to provide distraction-free services, it may need replacing before the facilities team computer. Churches with an abundance of older machines may need to “waterfall” some computers. Waterfalling is a systematic way to push down replaced computers to areas with even older equipment, providing an upgrade for everyone.
Once a church develops a plan to track and replace essential IT equipment, it also needs a financial plan – the church budget. Using the replacement strategy mentioned above to replace about a third of the church’s computers annually, include the estimated cost for the equipment in the IT budget. Remember, new initiatives or hiring new employees may require purchasing equipment beyond the replacement plan. Unfortunately, churches cannot always include all of these costs in the church budget; that’s when priorities and waterfalling can guide the church through tough decisions.
Even the most expensive, high-end IT equipment has a life span. Savvy churches understand the vulnerabilities of failing IT equipment and create a plan that includes the financial resources to replace it before it fails.short url: