Clerks Office Versus Home

Discussions about the Leader and Clerk Resources on lds.org.
tdprivate
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Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby tdprivate » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:43 pm

I see little snippets of this conversations splashed across various message boards but no single place where we can truly understand, dare I say, bring about change.
With all due respect to the hard working brothers and sisters who work behind the scenes in development, it is truly shocking that in 2014 we still have to drive (in my case) 42 miles to the Ward building to log in and enter home teaching reports, modify companionships, change routes, etc.
I see this complaint frequently here but an unusually disturbing amount of silence around the topic. There is simply no purpose for the required presence in the clerks office to do mundane database work.
It is NOT more secure: Leaders have a key to the clerks office, can be in there alone, come in 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and log in with a username and password (for accountability.) ALL of these conditions are true if MLS was accessed from home.
The required programming to make these existing usernames and passwords able to access MLS from home is MINIMAL. Why isn't anyone here telling us WHY this isn't available?
It feels like one of those Utah things- leaders in Utah live 2 blocks from the church so it doesn't get priority. The REST of the leaders around the U.S. and WORLD are making significant sacrifices of time and fuel just to do mundane activities within MLS. How can this continue without explanation or resolution?
I have been very careful to not say anything offensive or inappropriate in this post and I ask moderators to leave this conversation open so we can better understand this and if possible, get our message to those who do not seem to be prioritizing something SO SIMPLE which could make such a significant difference in the lives of our leaders.
Sincerely,
Two-term Bishop and current HPGL

russellhltn
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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby russellhltn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:41 pm

At this point, we don't know the reason. Nor do we have influence on it. It's the brethren's decision, not the developer's. So there's nothing that discussion here will do to move it along. The employees that do visit us here are not the decision makers.

If you happen to host a GA at your next stake conference, you might ask him.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

TinMan
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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby TinMan » Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:17 pm

Eh. If you will read like 80 or 90 of the threads in this forum that ask for the exact same thing, you will find out it is not, as you say "SO SIMPLE," and the necessary programming is not "MINIMAL." There are others here who can explain the difficulties. The one that made sense to me is that the data base in MLS for HT and VT is HUGE. And to store that on line is not something very simple.

But be that as it may. I for one am much more grateful they have been working on things like the on line missionary referral system that works so very well compared to the old days. The new on line Patriarchal Blessing referral system is so very useful for Bishops, Stake Presidents and Patriarchs. And the new on line system for referring Actions to the First Presidency have stream lined so much, instead of waiting for months and months to get decisions about such things as sealing cancellations, you now get them back in a week.

Frankly I believe that those sort of things make a much greater "significant difference in the lives" of our members. Not necessarily our leaders.

i am sure it will come. But for now, I really like the developers priorities.

:)

And if the cost of driving to church is your biggest concern, your presidencies have to drive to the church once in a while for Presidency meetings, don't they? Can the secretaries make the changes at those meetings rather than making a second trip. That is what ours do, even though we can all walk to church if we need to.

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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby scgallafent » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:07 am

tdprivate wrote:... no single place where we can truly understand, dare I say, bring about change.

This concept of trying to figure out how to bring about a change seems to be a recurring theme on the forum. I admit I'm more sensitive to it since it is, to a certain extent, a criticism of the people and processes that I work with every day. Perhaps some clarification would help. And perhaps I'll get flamed. :cool: (The sunglasses are to help with the flames.)

To put things in perspective, my row of cubicles contains the developers and QA engineers for MLS and Leader and Clerk Resources. CMIS is the next row over. CDOL, LDS Tools, Maps, etc. are all within a few rows of us.

I understand the frustration. I'm an assistant clerk and I have a hard time getting time in the clerk's office. It is more convenient for me to go in early, stay late, or drop by on a weekday, since I can walk to my building in less time than I needed to drive to it before we moved back to Utah, but I was also a clerk outside of Utah and occasionally drove 15 minutes one way to the church on a weekday or outside of the block to get things taken care of.

I have a list of features that need to be available online before I will only need to be in the clerk's office on rare occasions and I would like to see them come faster. I do know when they're coming, which helps ease the wait a bit. I'm not at liberty to share the timelines. That is the responsibility of the product manager.

The question that I see come up frequently on the forum is who people need to call or what they need to do to get <insert important feature here -- usually home and visiting teaching> available online. The realistic answer is no one. Anyone you think will be in a position to change things is already aware of the issues.

We (the developers) are well aware of where the functionality gaps are with the LCR experience. There are several clerks among us and we use our own software on a weekly basis. Our managers and their managers are aware of the issues and have laid out the road maps that determine what gets done when to get everything online. You can talk to your stake president and have him talk to his presiding authorities to bring it to the attention of the general Church leadership, but I promise you they are aware of the issues.

If you feel you need to generate pressure at some kind of management level, that is your prerogative. Your concerns won't be falling on deaf ears, but you also won't be telling people anything they don't already know and aren't already working on.

If you discover issues that need to be corrected with functionality being added, those need to go in through the feedback link in LCR. Those DO get to the product manager and are reviewed. Realize that your suggested change may not make it into the application for some reason. There may be any number of reasons why a suggestion doesn't make it into production, ranging from time/schedule/priority issues to legal concerns that you aren't aware of.

Submitting them through the feedback link is currently THE way to submit those suggestions. They can be discussed here and sometimes we may see them and take action when we notice a bug reported in the forum, but they need to go through the feedback link so that they can be accounted for properly.

tdprivate wrote:It feels like one of those Utah things- leaders in Utah live 2 blocks from the church so it doesn't get priority. The REST of the leaders around the U.S. and WORLD are making significant sacrifices of time and fuel just to do mundane activities within MLS.

The suggestion that our priorities are misaligned because the church building is two blocks away is incorrect. My building is about six blocks away. :)

This assumption does a disservice to everyone involved. We are aware the most of the world does not live next to a church building. On the other side of that, you should be aware that a good portion of the church does not live in the United States. That creates unique issues that means the software has to be capable of supporting more than just the issues that exist in your ward. LCR is available in 35 languages. That alone requires extensive translation effort, but there are also cultural, legal, and other issues that need to be addressed.

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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby drepouille » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:26 am

tdprivate wrote:ALL of these conditions are true if MLS was accessed from home.


Getting remote access to MLS from your home PC to your ward PC is not an option. MLS is not a multi-user application. Remote access to administrative PCs is only allowed for the GSC and FamilySearch, as far as I know.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

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johnshaw
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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby johnshaw » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:14 pm

scgallafent wrote:I have a list of features that need to be available online before I will only need to be in the clerk's office on rare occasions and I would like to see them come faster. I do know when they're coming, which helps ease the wait a bit. I'm not at liberty to share the timelines. That is the responsibility of the product manager.


I have posted many times on this topic and the frustrations of why the prioritization of solution delivery is so secret.

I would challenge the team.... put it in a presentation for the tech conference in 2014. You'll hit those most interested anyway... those who are your advocates that would find the information valuable and then be valuable evangelists on the boards and in their home wards and stakes. It might be nice to have a high-level summary of the current view of Web development, mobile app development, responsive design, etc.. how a bill becomes a law kind of thing around rolling out new functionality with the required 60 languages, etc... formally get the information out there in a reasonable manner that people can access at will.

It might be nice to have a presentation on how the product branding and messaging around mobile/web apps/dev was derailed completely by the 'hastening the work' inspired direction of the church, etc...

Do your yearly planning each year to coincide with that conference and publish the data at that time, then quarterly keep an on-track, derailed updated for the solution phases... you don't have to give dates... I know that is the scary thing, trolls kill you when you don't make a date (I'd say that it doesn't matter, reasonable people in IT know how these things work) Give us the upcoming development timelines, general feature-set phases, overview of priorities when delivering the solution.

This is how major software vendors interact with their key development partners and solution partners.

I also realize that this is not how the church works... only select small groups of people have access to the full picture - I've never understood this. In my mind, the more people that have access to the big picture, the more advocates we/you have.

Anyway... just my own thoughts, but I'd love to see something like that either in the tech conference or in a monthly broadcast.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

TinMan
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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby TinMan » Mon Jul 07, 2014 1:59 pm

johnshaw wrote:
I have posted many times on this topic and the frustrations of why the prioritization of solution delivery is so secret.

Honest, not a snarky question: Which is more frustrating for you: Not knowing the prioritization of delivery schedule, or the inevitable delays in that published schedule because of unforeseen problems, or "urgent tasks" dropped in ahead of other projects?

scgallafent above basically said "we are working on it." Isn't that good enough?

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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby johnshaw » Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:37 pm

I'm interested in the list of solutions and their priorities. The things that come up are always going to come up. something like 'hastening the work' is and extreme an not at all the norm.

But we have been told over the years that 'We are working on it" - in fact when I asked about some of the things published in the initial release of leader and clerk resources documented in the release notes, rather than respond, the information was deleted from the page.

When that initial release note came out, I designed into my training of clerks, Bishoprics, Stake Presidency, High Council and Stake Leaders the facts that the church was working to make this available from their homes, which was very welcome news because many, many more people that a clerk or bishopric member have requests of the MLS system that are still not available to them. This backfired on me... It was planned for in strategic thinking multi-year planning meetings... I realize this is just not very popular...I only realized it after pouring my heart and soul into providing guidance around technology and church callings to leaders in areas where technology was still seen as something to be handled only with caution and trepidation.

I used the implementation of the Newsletter to stem the flow of ward/auxiliary/stake blogs, facebook pages, etc... telling people that using the newsletter is the best thing, it follows the handbook and the church will be providing a more feature-rich version, just get everyone used to using it and it will pay dividends.

Well... here we are... before being released as the Stake Clerk, I basically told the Stake President he should do whatever he feels is in the interest of his wards and leaders - even if it includes using websites, blogs, facebook, etc.... If the church is not providing the needed resources, the resources are available. I had held off many for so many years with knowledge that the Church was responding to the needs with tools and resources, I was just burned too many times.

I think a quick page with solutions and phases as they progress would help those of us interested in planning strategically... If we stopped doing work on leader and clerk resources because it was more important to implement responsive design on every page at lds.org... that's a good explanation as to why other items are behind.

And in case anyone is wondering, my training always included: HT/VT will never be online... think of that as a reality, it'll never happen, too many issues related to privacy out there... please know, I am NOT talking about HT/VT online... but everything online that has started, stopped, stuttered, and sometimes shined magnificently.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Re: Clerks Office Versus Home

Postby mevans » Wed Jul 09, 2014 2:50 pm

Thanks, scgallafent, for your post. It's great to know that people are aware and feel the pain. It's also great to have the tools that we have so far. I know it's a lot of work to do what you're doing. Keep up the good work.


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