Electronic Systems Policy Needed?

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Consider this scenario: Susan has been the church secretary for three years. She downloads music while she is working at church. She has also downloaded other software and it is not clear if the church has a license for all the software she has downloaded. She also is on the phone often with personal calls and appears to be emailing friends frequently. You are the pastor and would like some help in clarifying expectations for staff and determining if the church is handling their electronic systems in a manner that honors the church. What do you do?

Hopefully you have someone in your church whom would be willing to assist in monitoring electronic systems if you are not in a position to have a staff member overseeing your electronic systems. It may be helpful for your church to have some definition of expectations of staff and monitoring to provide clear communication regarding electronic system expectations.

Some of the areas related to telephone and electronic systems that may benefit from an electronic systems policy include use of online systems, ownership of electronic communications, copyright, maintaining system security, and system integrity. If you have an electronic policy and employees have agreed to adhere to the policy, there is no excuse if they break the rules—the rules are clear. Also, it allows for a supervisor to review the policy with staff members regularly before a problem develops. Finally, it provides some expectation of what is needed by a volunteer or staff member who is monitoring the systems.

Would this policy enhance the ability of your church to serve others in a way that honors Christ? Remember, policies are written to help us minister, not hinder ministry.

ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS POLICY

This policy exists to clarify the expectations of the organization as they relate to the use of computer and telephone systems.

OWNERSHIP OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS

All communications over online systems are property of (church name). All messages created, sent, or retrieved over the online systems are the property of (church name) and employees should not assume electronic communications are totally private. The (church name) reserves the absolute right to access and monitor all messages and files on the online systems.

USE OF ONLINE SYSTEMS

Online systems (including but not limited to online services, e-mail and Internet access, and telephone) increase (church’s name) production and employee effectiveness, but they can become a time waster instead of enhancing production if used without policy guidelines. (Church name) has total discretion over employee’s access privileges and the nature of public discussions on the online system in order to make it a productive and stable environment.

Online systems are the property of (church name) and are provided for general business purposes to increase production and employee effectiveness only. To ensure the use of online systems in a productive manner, a list of guidelines has been incorporated. All employees are required to abide by the guidelines; any improper use of online systems is not acceptable and will not be permitted.

ONLINE SYSTEMS POLICIES

Licensing. The Network Administrator is responsible for providing and maintaining proper licensing for all operating systems and software. No software will be used unless the Network Administrator has a valid license in its possession.

Monitoring Tools. The (church name) monitors usage patterns for its online communications. The reasons for monitoring are to leverage online productivity as well as for better planning and management of network resources.

Blocking of Internet Access. Different access and service levels for different types of personnel may be given to employees depending on the nature of the work. The (church name) reserves the absolute right to block access to certain Internet sites if it becomes necessary.

Reasons for Policies.

a. To maintain proper licensing status

b. To collect data for Internet access and to ensure that productivity during work hours.

c. To track and control the flow of traffic

d. To improve capacity planning

e. To decrease network slowdowns

f. To maintain good availability of network bandwidth

g. To reduce cost

MAINTAINING A HOSPITABLE ENVIRONMENT

To ensure online systems remain a productive and stable environment, it is not permitted to transmit, retrieve or store information that is discriminatory or harassing, obscene, pornographic or X-rated. No one is permitted to use the online systems for personal gain, any purpose that is illegal, against (church’s name) policies or contrary to its best interest.

NON-DISCRIMINATION

It is not permitted to transmit messages with derogatory or inflammatory remarks about a person’s race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, national origin, physical attributes and sexual preference.

PUBLIC IMAGE

Image. Our online systems are a public place for business communications. All communications over online systems reflect our image. All employees are, therefore, responsible to maintain and enhance the church’s public image, and no abusive, discriminatory, harassing, inflammatory, profane, pornographic or offensive language or other materials are to be transmitted through the online system.

Employees’ Identity. No message can be transmitted without the employee’s identity. Transmittal of messages with anonymous or fictitious names is prohibited.

COPYRIGHT

No copying, downloading, or distributing of any of the copyrighted materials including but not limited to messages, e-mail, text files, program files, image files, database files, sound files and music files through the online systems is allowed.

MAINTAINING SYSTEM SECURITY

Keeping the Online System Secure from Viruses. No unauthorized downloading/uploading of software or files is allowed in order to prevent viruses from entering the online systems. All software downloaded or contained on CD or floppy disks must be authorized by and registered to (church name).

Infringement Risk. Employee stocking of unauthorized software is illegal and therefore is strictly prohibited. All unauthorized software that is discovered will be removed without notice.

Software Installation. Installing software is the responsibility of the Network Administrator. To ensure proper testing and Network integration, you must plan all software installations with the Network Administrator.

SYSTEM INTEGRITY

The Administrator must track equipment location for maintenance, repair and replacement. Moving of computer or phone equipment is not permitted. Swapping or replacing any piece of equipment without notification and assistance of the Network Administrator is not permitted. No alterations of equipment can be done without the Network Administrator. Moving or altering of equipment may effect the stability and effectiveness of part or all of our Network Systems effecting many mission critical applications.

Moving or Deleting Files. There are many business and system critical files in strategic places on the Network. Do not delete or move any files that are not yours. If you do not know what a file is, do not touch it. If you have questions about particular files, contact the Network Administrator for assistance.

PC and phone problems. If you have a problem with your PC or phone, do not attempt to fix it yourself but call the appropriate person on staff to resolve the problem.

PC and phone settings. Do not alter any PC or phone settings. All of our systems are standardized with the same settings for ease in problem resolution and support of all users.

Special Passwords. Do not set up any hardware or power-on passwords. Do not set up any application passwords. If you feel you need a special password please contact the Network administrator to discuss various options.

Backing Up Data. Files saved to the Network will be saved regularly and can be recovered if necessary. Files saved to a PC are not backed up.

Logging Off. It is critical that you log off properly when not using your PC. Not doing so leaves your PC files, email and other applications open for anyone to work with.

Other Matters

In order to keep business telephone lines open and provide uninterrupted service, employees are to limit their personal calls and keep such calls as brief as possible. Non-emergency personal calls must be made during meal or break periods. Employees are expected to reimburse the church for any charges resulting from their personal use of the telephone.

To ensure effective telephone communications, employees should always use the approved greeting and speak in a courteous and professional manner. Employees should confirm information received from the caller, and hang up only after the caller has done so.

Personal mail may be sent from an employee’s work location, and employees may on occasion receive personal mail and packages at the workplace. The use of church-paid postage for personal correspondence is not permitted.

Employees may use copy machines for personal use. The charge is 10 cents per copy.

I have read, understand and agree to adhere to the above policy: __________________________________ Print Name

_______________________________________________________________________________ Signature Date

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