Churches are very diverse in their activities. Churches manage budgets, employees, and volunteers. Churches do production activities with their church services and events and care for its members and people through its outreach programs. Each of these activities is done through a process that relies on consistency in practice.
Organizations that care about quality inspect their internal policies and procedures to ensure consistency in practice and predictability in services.
These organizations document their internal systems and processes so they can train employees, establish predictability in how things are done and begin to build a culture of quality.
Hopefully, your church documents its internal business processes by creating policies and procedures.
“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” Daniel Pink
However, policies and procedures are only as good as compliance.
Monitoring this compliance is why many organizations utilize an internal inspection function.
An inspection process helps ensure policies and procedures are followed, and when it’s not, variances in practice are reported to management for correction.
Churches can benefit from inspecting how things are done in practice, as compared to the written policy, to ensure excellence in operations.
9 Activities Your Church Should Inspect
1. Cash Handling
Churches receive cash in many ways – donations, payments for events, food sales, etc.
This handling of cash by many people makes it essential to inspect how cash is managed within the organization.
Train employees and volunteers on appropriate cash handling, and then occasionally monitor their practices to ensure compliance with the policy.
For instance, monitor areas within the church that deal with cash registers, petty cash, or money transactions to ensure compliance with internal cash handling procedures and to help guard against embezzlement in the church.
2. Credit Card Usage
Credit card use in churches has become more common because of its ease of use and necessity for online purchases.
Ensuring appropriate credit card usage, and accountability for compliance to policies is critical to fiscal responsibility.
Require employees and volunteers (who use credit cards) to submit expense reports.
Credit card statements should be reviewed and all purchases should have a corresponding expense report that includes a business purpose explanation for the expense.
3. Vendor Billing
Mistakes happen. And even the most reliable vendor will occasionally make a billing error.
Vendor bills should be reviewed, verified, and approved for payment to ensure that vendor charges correspond to the service provided.
For instance, if your church purchases cleaning supplies, take the time to match the order with the invoice to make sure that what was delivered was charged appropriately.
4. HR Compliance
There are many laws that govern the HR function.
Churches should be aware of those laws and have procedures in place to ensure that the HR department is compliant with maintaining accurate and complete employee records.
For instance, all employee files should have an I-9 Form that is completed and signed by the employee.
5. Budget Control
Budgets are only as good as the process that manages them.
A budget review process can monitor the church budget spending and oversee large expenditures.
Church leadership should be aware of how budget dollars are spent and of any budget variances.
For instance, the Covid-19 Pandemic has forced many churches to spend funds on products and services to comply with CDC Guidelines. These types of expenses would be considered a variance since most churches probably didn’t have a budget for face masks!
6. Process Improvement
When processes are changed as part of a quality improvement initiative, ongoing monitoring of the new processes helps to ensure compliance with improvement effort changes.
For instance, if the custodial crew is given new procedures for cleaning the restrooms, these new procedures should be inspected to ensure they are followed appropriately.
7. Customer Service
Church and service go hand in hand.
Taking care of the customers within a church – members, volunteers, and employees – is key to successfully achieving the mission.
Take the time to observe the customer service function so you can identify training needs, customer expectations, and improvement opportunities.
For example, church volunteers may be trained on standards of service within the church.
These standards should be observed to ensure all volunteers are interacting with members, visitors, and employees in the same way.
8. Vendor Comparisons
Vendors understand that having a personal relationship with clients is key to success.
Some vendors take advantage of these relationships and slowly increase prices in the hopes that no one will notice.
There should be strict conflict-of-interest policies, specifically in regards to how the purchasing function interacts with vendors.
This area should be inspected to make sure multiple bids are submitted for large purchases and those vendor agreements are reevaluated every year.
9. Cost Savings
Every church feels the pressure to reduce spending and manage costs.
Establish continual improvement processes to help identify cost-saving opportunities.
For instance, technology has changed the landscape of how things are done and can help to save money in many areas.
I worked with a church that invested in a new technology to print children’s church stickers to replace an outdated (and expensive) process of printing hundreds of labels every week – many of which were thrown away.
The new printer was able to print on demand as children were checking in. This resulted in a large savings for the church.
Churches should care about their internal processes because of the credibility that is associated with efficient processes.
Creating a process to inspect internal processes can help to ensure that the church is doing what it has committed to do in its policies, procedures and day-to-day operations.
Inspection reports should be reviewed by senior leadership, used to identify improvement opportunities and result in improvements to church operations.
Does your church Inspect its internal systems?