suggestions, open for comment

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
donaldmkitchen
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suggestions, open for comment

Postby donaldmkitchen » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:51 pm

Here are some suggestions of mine open for comment.

1. Phone numbers

MLS added a great deal of flexibility when it added the ability to have
individual phone numbers, however there could be twenty years between the
time the first people in a unit get individual phone numbers and the last
people do. In the meantime, to be sure to have a phone number any report
(custom reports in particular) will have to print out BOTH columns which
cuts greatly into precious space.

It seems like it would be a good idea to have some field that prints out
an individual phone number if there is one, or the household phone number
otherwise. Rather than unexpected behavor in the household or the individual
field, probably less likely to cause problems if it's a third, new field.


2. Out of Unit members

On the MLS Feedback and Suggestions page, I note that there's already a request
that MLS request a member's membership details when they are entered in as an
out-of-unit member.

I'd like to expand on that idea and suggest that any out-of-unit member never
appear on the not-assigned-to-be-hometaught/VT list. Available to be assigned
to teach or be taught, but never "not taught", since by definition they are
members of another unit who has that responsibility.

While I'm at it, MLS makes it hard to get assigned-to-the-unit missionaries
into the lists. I wonder how many units have non-member records as place
holders for missionaries. I wonder why there's no provision or dummy record
for out-of-unit member for missionaries.


3. Address Unknown

I don't know what other people's experiences are but people whose records
were sent to address unknown sometimes, even if they were in another city
for months or years, are found at a new address (tracting/accidental
encounter) back in our boundaries, or some new piece of information is
found on where they went.

If membership records are moved to address unknown it's rather unlikely they
gave their address before moving nor attended much if at all at their new
ward. These are hardly the people who will be running up to ask how soon
their records can be fetched, rather, at best an effort will have to be made
to find out their full name and dates of birth (missionaries NEVER think to
ask that!!) or at worst waiting years for their receptiveness to increase.
You can't record an address on records you don't have, and you can't get
records until you have the personal information. Unless you're lucky to even
have old transaction records, probably 1" per year to dig through. (Personally
I got lucky once with about a 3" stack finding a record sent to address
unknown, where the birthdate on the record was incorrect by a day.) There has
to be a better way to do things.

It seems like MLS should keep a history of records that were sent to address
unknown. You browse the old records, see the full name and birthday are
what you're expecting, and either click to request records back or maybe
click to send further information.

TinMan
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Postby TinMan » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:20 am

2. Perhaps it depends on they type of unit they are assigned to? We have 3 couples assigned to a branch at a care center that our stake is assigned to run. There isn't anyone physically capable of home teaching or visiting teaching at the care center, so our ward still takes care of that responsibility.

If our ward did not home teach these 3 couples, they would be without home teachers.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:48 am

dkitchen wrote:1. It seems like it would be a good idea to have some field that prints out an individual phone number if there is one, or the household phone number otherwise. Rather than unexpected behavor in the household or the individual field, probably less likely to cause problems if it's a third, new field.


At least for Custom Reports, this already exists. It's called the "Contact Phone Number" (and similarly "Contact E-mail").

Not only is it available in Custom Reports, but MLS clearly also uses it for a variety of built-in reports that list individuals.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

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hpaulsen
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Postby hpaulsen » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:15 am

dkitchen wrote:It seems like MLS should keep a history of records that were sent to address
unknown. You browse the old records, see the full name and birthday are
what you're expecting, and either click to request records back or maybe
click to send further information.


As I recall, this is also available, at least for the last year or so, from the move-out report. I've used it once or twice to get the information needed to re-request a record that was sent out. I agree that it would be nice to have a larger history available.

donaldmkitchen
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Postby donaldmkitchen » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:11 pm

TinMan wrote:2. Perhaps it depends on they type of unit they are assigned to? We have 3 couples assigned to a branch at a care center that our stake is assigned to run. There isn't anyone physically capable of home teaching or visiting teaching at the care center, so our ward still takes care of that responsibility.

If our ward did not home teach these 3 couples, they would be without home teachers.


Yes you are the ward with the membership records, so you should be
responsible for the home teaching.

The OTHER unit, when they create an out-of-unit record for YOUR members,
are the ones that shouldn't be told they need to ordain your men to the
priesthood (which happens until they put in ordination dates which would
be solved by MLS fetching all the correct dates automatically) and told
your members aren't assigned hometeachers and haven't been hometaught in
13 months.

But they should be able to be assigned to hometeach people, even be
hometaught themselves there, depending on the specific situation.

donaldmkitchen
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Postby donaldmkitchen » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:46 pm

HPaulsen wrote:As I recall, this is also available, at least for the last year or so, from the move-out report. I've used it once or twice to get the information needed to re-request a record that was sent out. I agree that it would be nice to have a larger history available.


In particular, you can't send information. For example, say someone later
tells you, oh yeah, they'd mentioned they were moving to Smalltown, (and
probably in a few months they'll be in the phone directory). You can
A) request the records back, take note of whether they came from Address
Unknown, and send them back to where they came from, except if there was
a good address you've erased it and you may not have a good address, or
B) just forget it and hope things work out.
C) remind yourself to look up their phone number someday, (which may not
give an address), hope you don't forget, and then see below

Or similar situation, you obtain a phone number for your former members
and with CDOL lookup can guess at several wards that would at least be
close. If you you request the records back, they may have already made it
to a unit or may have still been in address unknown, you send the records
to a unit, with the members phone number, and may have just erased a good
address with no address, and a better phone number with a worse phone number.

idjeeper2
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Postby idjeeper2 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:10 pm

I used to keep a lot of records that I wasn't supposed to keep. Like the membership update reports for the last three years. I kind of feel sorry for the guy who came after me and had to shred all of that but it was helpful to be able to look up people who had been moved out and get things like full names and record numbers.

Anyway, when I had a name and number, I could send an email to Membership with whatever new information I had obtained. They always seemed appreciative. I suspect that even if you could only give them a name and the approximate dates the person lived in your ward, they might be able to track down who it was and update the record. Worth a try at any rate.

This also argues for the concept of leaving clerks in their calling for a while. The institutional memory that goes away when a clerk is released can be significant.

kisaac
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Postby kisaac » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:25 am

dkitchen wrote:Here are some suggestions of mine open for comment.

1. Phone numbers

MLS added a great deal of flexibility when it added the ability to have
individual phone numbers,...


I tried putting my cell as my individual contact number, but I've since removed it. Several other ward members did the same. While that works great if you have no main phone, I didn't want my cell ringing when I sat at the kitchen table next to the family phone on the wall, to answer a call about home teaching, using up my cell minutes.

I echo that the problem now is that if my family contact is listed as the home phone (wired to the wall,) and I input an individual phone number for myself (my cell) then only my individual phone number appears on some lists that only shows myself. (Has this changed recently?)

I'm not sure how to correct this. Your idea of another column may work. I wish I could specify "try my home phone first in all cases," and only then try my cell. This would mean being able to specify a "primary" and "secondary" number for each household member...or specify an "emergency contact" number in some way. I think maybe we are asking too much...



dkitchen wrote:It seems like MLS should keep a history of records that were sent to address unknown..


I echo this! But even if you just make a typo on the address and send it...GONE FOREVER. There isn't even a "check" screen to look at before you hit "send."

At the next ward council somebody says...here is the address.. TO LATE- We already sent it out ADDRESS UNKNOWN!

You can send an MLS message to "membership" with all the info you have and hope they can match it up and make it all right again so you can sleep at night...
It's the best we can do right now.

This forum is for help and brainstorming on suggestions, but not the best way to get these ideas to the developers...lets all send an MLS message with our suggestions for MLS, or a feedback within LDS.org.

donaldmkitchen
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Postby donaldmkitchen » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:05 am

kisaac wrote:While that works great if you have no main phone, I didn't want my cell ringing when I sat at the kitchen table next to the family phone on the wall, to answer a call about home teaching, using up my cell minutes.

You're right about this problem. Better to be the household number if there is one, otherwise individual number. I'll have to check how "contact number" behaves.

kisaac wrote:This forum is for help and brainstorming on suggestions, but not the best way to get these ideas to the developers...lets all send an MLS message with our suggestions for MLS, or a feedback within LDS.org.

I've send several messages and been told they'd be 'passed on to programmers' and not had a single one implemented. (And a coordinated effort would have to be coordinated somehow.) But actually, the 'feedback and suggestions' wiki requires that topics be posted here first so there are comments to reference.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:13 am

dkitchen wrote:You're right about this problem. Better to be the household number if there is one, otherwise individual number.


That's really an individual member's preference. I'm sure there are others that are quite the opposite.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.


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