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Connections Online Photo Directory
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Advantages of Multiple Editing Users.

Maintaining a church directory can be difficult. Usually, as soon as the directory is published it becomes out of date. In a rapidly growing church it is almost futile to try and keep a printed directory up to date. The problem is that an up-to-date directory is essential in helping members connect.

How do churches keep directories up-to-date after they have been distributed? The historical solution has been to announce changes in a bulletin or newsletter and when needed hand out supplemental pages. The problem with this approach is that it is hit and miss, not everyone will update their copy of the directory or pick up the supplemental pages. With an online directory the changes and corrections are present the moment they are entered. Corrections or additions to the directory are present online and can be easily looked up.

With an online directory, the question shifts from "How to keep up-to-date information in members hands?" to "How to keep the online directory data up to date?" Different churches will do this differently. Generally there is an administrative assistant who is the point person for maintaining the directory. Changes are sent to the assistant who makes the necessary changes. To some degree this assistant is needed for members to send in corrections. In fact the Connections Online Photo Directory has a web form for corrections.

One benefit of having multiple persons who can are able to make updates is that the task of maintaining the directory is spread out and does not become a chore for any one person. But the second benefit is that updates are entered by the person who is closest to the knowledge of the correction or update. Here is an example: your youth leader or associate pastor tries to contact a member; they find that the information in the directory is wrong; once the correct information is found they update the directory. The number of hands the corrected information must pass through is minimized and it is inserted in "everyone's" directory the moment the change is made. One important part of multiple editing users is change tracking, a Connections Online Photo Directory automatically keeps track of changes that are made. This makes it possible to trace changes in case some change was in error.

If a Connections Online Photo Directory was simply a way to produce a directory then the advantages of having multiple editing users would be limited; however, Connections Online Photo Directory is more. Names entered in the database need not be published in the "published" directory! This makes an Online Connections Photo Directory a contact database for users who have appropriate access. For example: your youth leader could enter names of youth that attending your youth group whose parents don't attend your church, into the contact database. Their information would not be in the published directory, but would be viewable by others who had appropriate access to the contact database. In this way, your Connections Online Photo Directory becomes more of a ministry tool for communication between various team leaders. For more on this see the tip "Using the online directory as communication tools."