The bus factor – who holds critical information in your parish? Huron Church News March 2016

If a bus hit you tomorrow how would it affect your church?

This may sound like an odd question, but in business management, and especially in the field of software development, the bus factor is a critical measurement of this exact question. That is, how is information concentrated, and, if someone were suddenly removed from the equation, how would it impact the team or organization?

Where two or three are gathered, they will know all the passwords.

In my work with parishes around the diocese over the past few years, I have discovered that most churches have a very low bus factor, often a bus factor of one. This means that only one person has information that is critical to the parish. This is often passwords or log-in information for social media accounts, ownership over the parish’s web address, or access to critical email addresses or web/hosting services.

Often, the person who has this information is a parishioner and not even parish staff, wardens, or clergy. In many cases, ownership of domain names and web hosting has been left with a past member of the parish.

This is a dangerously low bus factor. Losing control of accounts can be frustrating and delay or completely stop critical activities of the parish. It can lead to having to reboot and redesign websites, social media accounts and pursuing complex processes to regain access to lost accounts.

It is good practice to keep all necessary passwords and information for digital accounts and configurations with the parish so wardens always have access if necessary. Secondly, all renewals for accounts, web hosting services and domain registration ought to be through the parish and not personal credit cards.

Ultimately, your parish should practice good Christian theology when it comes to bus factor: where two or three are gathered, they will know all the passwords.

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