MLS a Web-app? (Over crowded Clerk's Office)

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ckmcdonald
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MLS a Web-app? (Over crowded Clerk's Office)

Postby ckmcdonald » Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:52 pm

Apologies in advance if this is a repeat topic - I'm new to the forum. Has the topic of making MLS a web app been discussed? It sure seems like a web-app based MLS would solve a host of issues besides the one provoking my visit to the forum tonight.

Our meetinghouse Clerk's Office would more appropriately be named the Ward's Office, or even the Ward's Visiting Lobby. I've been a flavor of clerk now for about 20 years and I've notice that the newer the building, the smaller the Clerk's Office and over time the more ward members needing to use it. Our 5' x 10' (floor space) Clerks office is a zoo every Sunday.

The primary point of conflict, among others, is the need to use the computer. As we equip Clerk's Offices with internet access and MLS continues to add features that support more aux. functions the log-jam in the Clerk's Office has become an significant issue in our ward. Adding to the problem is the trend that many needing to use the computer don't have the keys to get into the Clerk's Office during the week - adding to the demand on Sundays.

Seems like a good long-term solution would be to make MLS a web-app. Most aux. leaders needing to using the ward computer as well and much of what the Bishopric members need it for could be done at home - and by preference as well.

Just curious if others are experiencing this same problem, what thoughts have been made about a web based MLS and how other wards have dealt with Clerk's Office crowding.

Thanks
Calvin (Fin Clerk)

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:23 am

Yes, It's been discussed here and here.

But it's probably not complete enough to put much of a dent into the demand.

You may need to sit down with your ward clerk who in turn needs to sit down with the bishop and discuss the issue.

I'd think step one is kick out all the socialites. Step two might be to see if some people need keys or there is some way for them to get access during the week. Perhaps during the ward night. I'm thinking in particular those that need to deal with HT/VT.

For some of the others, you may want to run reports and work things that way. It may be easier for one of the clerks to work in that task then it is to work in another body.

I'm not sure what issue is caused by the Internet access. I'm sure there's a number of people who think they need it, but if firmly told (with the Bishop's backing) that it's not available will find another way of meeting their needs. Or you might see if the Stake President would be willing to create WiFi access for them.

But I think the bottom line is to assert control and assign priorities.

That may seem harsh, but I started clerking back when it was only one computer per building. The guidelines at the time said something to the effect of "We realize this may create scheduling difficulties - but you're just going to have to deal with it."
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Postby johnshaw » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:45 am

One way I've found to un-jam the office is to provide proactive clerk email. I had a monthly and a quarterly email that goes out to all the auxiliary presidents that provide them updated, meaningful reports specific to their organization. Ward directories, class lists, rolls, birthday lists, budget, etc... An important tactic of mine is to ridicule any of the leaders who come around and ask for a copy of any of the reports that I have already provided. If any other members of the presidencies come around, I refer them to the president (though I ALWAYS print the report and deliver it to them... my passive-aggressive nature requires this type of interaction I guess). For those without email I print hard copies and distribute. I regularly take requests as well, anything I can do to get them out of the office.

Also, if you can get your Bishop/Branch President behind it, Sunday isn't really a place to be hanging in the clerk's office anyway. When I first became a clerk in my current ward, the previous years Bishopric members and the asst. finance clerk would do the count during priesthood meeting. I met with the Bishop and told him that I believe the clerks should be attending their priesthood meetings and that a member of the bishopric shouldn't require them to be absent from those meetings, all in an effort to save 20 minutes after church. He agreed and I got my clerk's out of the office during church (mostly) - we changed Bishop's during my tenure as clerk, and the new Bishop gave-in to the financial clerk.. it's important for the Bishopric to all have the same message.

The key issue is very difficult, though usually manageable. I don't live in a highly populated Mormon community (where key distribution is obviously planned), but there is still room to plan key management. I hear secretaries all the time say, "I don't have a key, so I can't get in to use the computer" that same person lives 2 blocks from the president of her presidency. I have a difficult time thinking that somewhere in the 1 month period of time, you can't borrow a key and get into the computer.

I've generally chosen a morning a week to come in very early 4 am to 5 am (I'm not a night person) to get my work done - yes, there is a bit of travel, but I choose to attend my meetings, and get clerk work done as well.

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Postby gregwanderson » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:58 pm

I know that it's supposed to be possible for lots of people in the Ward to have access to the Clerks' computer but we simply don't do it. The only ones with accounts on the computer are members of the Bishopric, the Executive Secretary and those who are in a Ward Clerk or assistant Ward Clerk assignment (and someone from the Stake). Yes, we have to print reports for Visiting Teaching and Home Teaching. Yes, we have to input that information ourselves when the time comes. But it's not that big of a deal. Nobody who doesn't already have access to the computer is asking for it. I don't even like the idea of having more people using it.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:54 pm

GregAnderson wrote:I know that it's supposed to be possible for lots of people in the Ward to have access to the Clerks' computer but we simply don't do it.


Along the same lines, there's a difference between those who may have access to it and those who must have access to it.
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Postby waynecooke » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:48 pm

GregAnderson wrote:I know that it's supposed to be possible for lots of people in the Ward to have access to the Clerks' computer but we simply don't do it. The only ones with accounts on the computer are members of the Bishopric, the Executive Secretary and those who are in a Ward Clerk or assistant Ward Clerk assignment (and someone from the Stake).


I would find it hard to operate with just those few people having access to the computer. We have HP, Elders, RS all having to input statistics. Others needing help when we aren't available. I spend enough time already that I don't want to be entering statistics for the Auxilaries.

jshawut wrote:I met with the Bishop and told him that I believe the clerks should be attending their priesthood meetings and that a member of the bishopric shouldn't require them to be absent from those meetings, all in an effort to save 20 minutes after church.


I agree about the attending meetings absolutely, but my question is, *20 Minutes*? It takes us a minimum of 40 minutes and often over an hour to enter donations according to the Church methods and write any checks that have to be written. Then we have to drive 15 minutes to get to the bank to deposit, and then a half hour drive home. Plus all of this is done after Choir practice which is for an hour right after Block.

Yes it is a trial getting the people out of the office, but it really necessary to get the job done in as timely fashion as possible, plus, when working with finances, as we all know, no one else should be in the office other than the Bishopric and Clerks.

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Postby gregwanderson » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:17 am

I hand out blank Home Teaching reports. When they gather their statistics they fill in the reports and turn them back in to me. It takes me about one or two minutes per district to record the statistics in MLS. It's not a big deal. Nobody complains. We don't have a bunch of people getting in each other's way in the office.

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Postby ckmcdonald » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:04 am

Does there exist a Church-published written guideline for Clerk's Office usage, and who has enforcement responsibility/authority? Our Bishop has far, far more important things to worry about and not the time to take on such menial task.

As it stands now, our Clerk's Office is an un-policed free-for-all each Sunday. Here's a list of what routinely happens in our Clerk's Office (leaving out the activities we know are obviously supposed to happen in the room). In my opinion, many of these things shouldn't be happening in the room at all.

Temple Recommend Interviews
Youth Interviews
Setting Apart's
HPG and ELQ Holding Presidency Meetings
HPG and ELQ and RS Presidencies changing HT/VT Assignments
Visiting, Visiting and More Visiting
Children Milling Around
Storage of Misc Junk
Members Hunting for Curriculum Materials
Aux Leaders Entering HT/VT/Attendance Info
Handing out Treats to the Children
Aux Leaders Using WWW to Look up Addresses, etc.
Aux Leaders Printing Reports
HPG and ELQ PPI's
Members Asking to use the Tape, Stapler, 3-Hole Punch, etc. etc.
Members Using the Phone
Parking Place for Books, Binders, Briefcases, Suit Coats, etc.

Maybe what I need is someone from a ward/branch that doesn't even have a Clerk's Office to respond to this thread and remind me how lucky we are to have a nice little office to work in and to be thankful instead of complaining. ;)

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Postby aebrown » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:09 am

ckmcdonald wrote:Does there exist a Church-published written guideline for Clerk's Office usage, and who has enforcement responsibility/authority? Our Bishop has far, far more important things to worry about and not the time to take on such menial task.


I really doubt that the Church would publish any official policy on this. The only thing I have ever seen published along these lines deals with keeping the room clear of others when donations are being counted, and that confidential information on the computer monitor should not be viewable by those who shouldn't be seeing it.

As with any building usage, it is the bishop's call (subject to stake overrides and coordination with other bishops in a shared building, of course). But I completely agree with you that a busy bishop shouldn't be bothered with the details. So here is what I would propose (and how some wards in our stake successfully handle the issue):

The ward clerk sets the usage guidelines for the clerk's office. After all, he is the clerk, and the sign on the door says it's his office (some signs say "Clerks' Office" but most say "Clerk's Office" in my stake, but either way, the ward clerk would be in charge). So he thinks through the issues and comes up with a policy, and runs it past the bishop for approval. The bishop doesn't need to do anything more than to approve it and mention in the next ward council that he has approved these guidelines and that the ward clerk will be managing the usage of the clerk's office. Then the ward clerk takes kind but firm control of the office.

Earlier in this thread (and in linked threads), people have made suggestions for some guidelines that might help. But every ward has its own needs. Some wards do just fine without any formal policy, but if it's really out of control, you may need to make an explicit policy.
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Postby lajackson » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:35 pm

ckmcdonald wrote:Does there exist a Church-published written guideline for Clerk's Office usage, . . .

Maybe what I need is someone from a ward/branch that doesn't even have a Clerk's Office to respond to this thread and remind me how lucky we are to have a nice little office to work in and to be thankful instead of complaining.


We hold classes in ours. That way no one has to meet outside under the tree. This is particularly good during inclement weather.


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