Change Management 101 for the Financial Industry (and Your Ministry)

by Mark Johnson, ECCU Executive Vice President
(Originally published as a post within ECCU’s former e-publication, The Buzz.)

Last week, I wrote about Life Bible Fellowship Church (LBFC) and how they successfully navigated a growing budget gap, largely due to reliable financial tools and processes that enabled them to see their financial big picture. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on the sweeping “new rules of the road” for the U.S. financial system that were proposed by the President for congressional approval by the end of 2009.

Two components of the President’s proposal worth noting are:

  1. Authorizing one regulator to look at the whole financial system
  2. Creating a Financial Services Oversight Council to identify risks to the system and advise the regulator, the Federal Reserve

Like LBFC, it looks like Congress has been tasked with Change Management 101—understanding what went wrong, identifying what might still go wrong, and making sure that what went wrong doesn’t go wrong again.

We can relate. In our consultation with ministries during the past year, we’ve walked alongside many that are experiencing their own version of Change Management 101. We begin by asking two questions similar to those components of the President’s proposal:

  1. Is someone at your ministry responsible for looking at its financial big picture?
  2. When was the last time your ministry’s financial management system was assessed (how funds come in, where funds reside, and how funds go out)?

Then we quickly move on to an advanced evaluation through a Ministry Banking AssessmentTM. This is like a litmus test for a ministry’s financial effectiveness. It evaluates how available banking tools are being used and explores changes that should be made to the ministry’s financial systems to achieve its goals.

A few recent examples have produced the following results:

  • Reductions in administration and operating expenses using ACH—a low-cost, easy way to manage payments, move money between accounts, and ensure appropriate cash flow.
  • Increased efficiency and quicker access to funds through Remote Deposit Services. Significant cost savings have been achieved by revamping the deposit and donor entry process. Instead of photocopying checks, summing and logging deposits by type, entering and re-entering donor information into one or multiple systems, completing deposit slips, and physically transporting deposits to the bank, Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) technology provides ministries with access to their deposited funds sooner, even on the same day in some instances. Properly designed and implemented, RDC can result in improved earnings, time savings, and reduced risk of fraud.

These are just a few options available to you as you seek to address the impact on your ministry of our nation’s changing financial environment. Understanding your ministry’s financial systems and implementing appropriate financial solutions might just be the sweeping Change Management 101 (or 201 or 301) assignment you need right now.

And thankfully, it doesn’t take an act of Congress to make that happen!

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