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April showers are finally bringing May flowers. Well, since our Planning Center offices are located in the desert, we don't really get many showers or flowers, so to compensate, we've been hard at work for the last couple of months on some pretty big features that can add to your bouquet and start ours.

Positions 2.0

Setting up your people so that they are assigned to teams or specific positions can be a complex task. We wanted to greatly simplify this process and set ourselves up for some even cooler things in the future, so we've designed a brand new way to setup your positions. You can now assign people directly to positions and skip creating, assigning and linking Custom Properties. That means when you edit a position (now available directly in your plan) instead of just seeing that you have x number of people setup for that position, you will see the actual people. And what fun would seeing be if you couldn't add and remove them right from there, too? Don't worry, the old way is still there as an option, but if you want to take advantage of this new feature, edit your people categories and switch them over using the new green toggle at the top.

Like I said, we didn't do this just to change things up, we wanted to make it easier and more flexible. Since assigning people directly involves using a search box, we've taken all the power we've programmed into some of our other search boxes and made it better than just a simple people search. In addition to searching for people, search for other positions (even in other service types) or even custom properties to add many people to a position in one easy step! Plus, we've enhanced the Fill Needed Positions box so that you can add and remove people directly from there (if the category has been switched to assign people directly).

There's so much involved in Positions 2.0 including a new filter on the main people page and a new "Assigned Positions" box on each person's profile, we didn't want to bog down this blog post, so we've made a help page documenting all of this information in detail here.

Auto-Scheduling using Needed Positions

After we added so much new flexibility to positions, we took a look at them in conjunction with our recently released Matrix 2.0 and decided we could do some pretty cool things. We've long had a feature called "Needed Positions" that let you specify that you needed a certain number of people for a position before you knew who those people were. Many churches add Needed Positions to their templates so that they are added to all new plans. Now, if you've setup your needed positions, you can go into the Matrix and click Auto-Schedule. Planning Center will go through each position from left to right and schedule the person setup for each position who hasn't served in the longest time and also has no conflicts or block-out dates. If for some reason you don't like the results, click the Auto-Schedule button again to undo it. Auto-scheduling obviously won't be for everyone, but if equal opportunity is your main concern, it could save you a lot of time!

Last Scheduled Date Options

When scheduling a person to a plan, Planning Center sometimes shows you the last date a person was used. By default, this date is the date they were used in ANY service type in your whole organization. Now you can change that date to show you the last used date just in a specific service type, or even in any service in a specific folder. These options are set for each service type from the Edit Service Type box. To learn how, read this article from our online help.

We snuck in a couple of other things, too. When you create multiple new plans, you will now be taken to the first plan and not the last. Also, when creating a new Service Type, you can choose from some sample people categories to help get you started.

I think that about does it for now. In case you missed it, read our post on iTunes integration that we added last week. Remember to follow us onFacebook and Twitter to always have the latest information and to share the love!