The United Church of Canada is a Presbyterian and Methodist organization that unites four churches across Canada. The Church serves more than 3,000 communities of faith and 8,000 ministers (both active and retired) across the country. After relying on a mix of disconnected legacy systems, the United Church of Canada was ready to implement a modern unified platform to better manage church operations and offer digital services.
The United Church of Canada used various on-premises systems and legacy databases that were isolated from one another. Due to the lack of connection between the systems, the Church’s IT, finance, national, and operations staff often dealt with information silos, making it difficult to effectively serve the Church’s ministers and communities. For example, in order to update their contact information, ministers were required to mail physical documents to the Church and a Church staff member was responsible for updating that contact information across all systems.
The United Church of Canada wanted the ability to update information across the system with ease, and to provide its ministers and communities ways to collaborate with the Church online and through mobile platforms.
The United Church of Canada worked with Protiviti on a 3-month roadmap engagement to transform and modernize the management of church operations and digital service offerings. As part of this project, teams across the national organization worked with Protiviti to discuss their pain points, existing and legacy systems, and key use cases for a new modern platform.
Armed with a roadmap and recommendations for a new digital platform, the Church and Protiviti began evaluating cloud-hosted solutions with mobile access, Canadian data centers, automation capacity, and modern web page capabilities. After evaluating its options, the Church chose to build its new platform with Microsoft Cloud solutions, including SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Teams, Forms, Flow, PowerApps, and Power BI, and take advantage of Microsoft’s nonprofit pricing.
Protiviti used Microsoft SharePoint and SharePoint modern pages to provide ministers and communities of faith with unique self-service portal experiences that enable mobility and increase engagement with ministerial staff across the country. Microsoft Teams is used to provide managed collaboration tools and online workspaces to more than 50 church committees. In addition, the Church uses Microsoft PowerApps and Flow to capture data more efficiently and accurately, and to gain efficiencies through business process automation. Rounding out this modern solution, Protiviti migrated the Church’s management of contact data to Microsoft Dynamics 365, which now serves as the organization’s system of record for all church contact information. Microsoft SharePoint and SharePoint modern pages were also used to provide Church staff at the national office and at regional council offices with a new organizational intranet, enabling better collaboration across the organization.
Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, and Dynamics 365 provided the United Church of Canada with the professionalism of a cloud environment and the capabilities of a modern solution that we need to connect with our members across the country.
Sam Hou (IT Manager, United Church of Canada )
With the implementation of the new system, the United Church of Canada is now able to more easily access their systems from anywhere – onsite, online or on a mobile device – and have access to accurate and up-to-date information for both ministers and communities of faith. The Church is using the new modern platform to increase collaboration across the nation as the portals and communications tools connect ministers and members from the Church’s communities of faith. The impact is expected to be high for rural communities and for the Church’s younger members who will now be able to connect to the Church’s content with a mobile device.
In addition, the Church’s IT team is taking advantage of the solution’s integration of Microsoft Office 365 and the Azure platform. They’re excited to spend less time maintaining and upgrading on-premises servers, because they will be able to expand or create new databases on the fly and in the cloud.