Planning Suite is maintained by Degreematch Ltd, under the leadership of Nigel Swinson. It was conceived by Nigel in 2003 while observing communication difficulties in managing the services at Carrubbers Christian Centre.
While helping out at church with the sound desk, song projection and music group, week by week Nigel was exposed to questions such as:
As an experienced software architect he was quick to see the potential for web based applications and email to help considerably with these communication difficulties and set to work writing requirements documents.
In May 2004 the first version of the Service Planner was launched, with integrated songs database and primitive rota management. This allowed the service organizers to login and see when they were due to plan a service, visit a songs database and search for songs that they wanted to be included in their service, and then add them to their service. Song statistics were tracked preventing us from "burning out" songs by selecting them too much, and easing CCLI submission.
In Summer 2004 it was suggested to us that the problems we were solving through the Carrubbers Website were common to all churches, and it would be good if we were able to share this work with others. After 4.5 years of further development and preparation, and around 2000 man hours of work, we finally achieved this goal in December 2008 by launching PlanningSuite.com. The intention is that churches will be able to "sign up" obtaining access to the users, groups, contacts, events, event planning, songs facilities, email aliases and email list features that we've been enjoying at Carrubbers for several years now.
Our first "beta" customer was Holyrood Abbey Church of Scotland, but we quickly found that it was useful for any organization that requires event and rota planning functionality such as hospitals or the entertainment and hospitality industries. This has led to further work to make the system more generic, and a more specific focus on event, rota and group management rather than event content management and song selection.
While the system has been developed through the Carrubbers Christian Centre Webteam, Carrubbers is in the business of telling people the great news about Jesus Christ rather than selling software so it was seen as more appropriate to spin Planning Suite out from Carrubbers Christian Centre to Degreematch Ltd, from where it will have its corporate home.