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Automation of the Bishop's Storehouse Food Order Forms

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Automation of the Bishop's Storehouse Food Order Forms

#1Postby GRP-p40 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:31 pm

BACKGROUND: As a Bishop, one of the things that I do on a regular basis is meet with the RS President to review Food Order forms and sign them. These are forms filled out in triplicate with the ward keeping one, two going to the storehouse, and then one of those being sent back to the ward with a sparse report of total food orders for the month. I then have to reconcile these two copies back together and present them for the bi-yearly financial audits.

Our local storehouse (70 mile round trip) used to accept faxed copies of the form. This was nice as we could place an order on a Monday or Tuesday and the food would be delivered to our stake center on that Friday. This cycle would repeat every two weeks.

Policies changed and they now need the actual form in their office by Monday morning for a Friday delivery. This means we have to have it in the mail by the Friday before, which means it has to be signed before Thursday evening. This isn't super timely when there there are food needs.

PROPOSED SOLUTION:
Use a similar technology as the missionary recommendation and calling website and apply it to the food order system.

1. Under my direction the RS President fills out an online Food Order Form
2. I get an email saying one is available for me to review and sign
3. The storehouse gets notified a signed order is ready to fill
4. I get an email saying the order is filled
5. I can see if it is on the shipment to our stake, or if it was picked up in person from the storehouse.
6. I also get some nice reports showing commodities orders, history, graphs, etc...

BENEFITS:
1. Completely removes the paperwork, triplicate forms, mailing expense, audit questions, coordinating copies, etc...
2. Security, there isn't an opportunity for modification of the forms.
3. The storehouse can see in real time the orders coming in and better staff and provide better inventory management
4. Provides the bishop with better visibility into the use of sacred funds to purchase commodities
5. There would be better data to see if there are people abusing the system from multiple bishops
6. It would provide a way to provide food to those in need in a more timely manner.
7. We automated this for the roughly 25000 missionaries called each year, We could get a big gain helping the 25000 units that fill out multiple forms each month.
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Great Idea

#2Postby jeromer7 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:16 pm

This is a really great idea.

We had problems in our stake earlier this year where the storehouse copies were not making it back to the wards, thus not only complicating the audit process, but preventing the check and balance the audit process seeks to enforce.

There have also been a few instances of extra items being added by individuals hadncarrying the forms to the storehouse to get the orders filled (our storehose is within our stake boundary).

Implementing the well thought out suggestions would provide a much improved service.
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#3Postby nmecantwin73 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:01 am

I had this same thought come to me a couple of months ago - and I wouldn't be surprised if this is already being developed.

Like JLRose mentions, our bishop, as well, and others in our stake have had instances where members receiving assistance have altered the forms and added more to their order than was approved.

Eliminating the need for the manual paperwork and triplicate forms would be a great improvement to this already wonderful program. :)
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#4Postby RossEvans » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:05 pm

Having just spent several hours trying to get our ward's recent paperwork for the bishop's storehouse reconciled, I add my vote for a web-based application here. This cries out for automation.

The hardest part would be providing an interface for the bishop or RS president to use where they usually need it, which is at the meetinghouse while meeting with recipients. I don't have a good solution to offer on that piece. The computer in the clerk's office is already bottlenecked. Any ideas?
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#5Postby russellhltn » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:48 pm

boomerbubba wrote:The hardest part would be providing an interface for the bishop or RS president to use where they usually need it, which is at the meetinghouse while meeting with recipients. I don't have a good solution to offer on that piece. The computer in the clerk's office is already bottlenecked. Any ideas?


Fill-able PDF? It can be done off-line and supports most platforms.

The next question is how would it be sent and what is the authentication procedure.
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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#6Postby RossEvans » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:07 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Fill-able PDF? It can be done off-line and supports most platforms.

The next question is how would it be sent and what is the authentication procedure.


I thought of that, but I am trying to think of something that does not involve double data entry for the RS president or bishop, unless we assume they are providing their own laptop or handheld for this or any other offline electronic form. (That may be the hard stop here.) If there is double data entry -- once when meeting with the family with a clipboard and then when filling in an electronic form -- that form might as well just be a web-based form.

As for authentication, I am assuming this would have to be a centrally developed application, not something homegrown. So I also am assuming that authenticating bishops, clerks and RS presidents is a general problem that is about to be solved by LDS Accounts.
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#7Postby russellhltn » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:26 pm

boomerbubba wrote:I thought of that, but I am trying to think of something that does not involve double data entry for the RS president or bishop, unless we assume they are providing their own laptop or handheld for this or any other offline electronic form. (That may be the hard stop here.)


I think the options here are quite limited. The only thing I know of is scanning or faxing. But is the Church going to buy the needed equipment at the ward end?


boomerbubba wrote:If there is double data entry -- once when meeting with the family with a clipboard and then when filling in an electronic form -- that form might as well just be a web-based form.


Well, the advantage of the PDF is that you can do it off-line, such at with a personal device that lacks wireless (cell) service, or on the ward machine that's still on dial-up.
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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#8Postby JamesAnderson » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:20 pm

Another possibility is a web interface where you would put in the information from the printed form now that the member and the RS president and bishop otherwise fill out, then once all the desired items and quantities are input, you would hit submit and a new page would come out with just those items listed.

Would save bishops having to cross out whole sections in those cases where only a few things in certain categories are needed.

All the crossing out is done so that only those items checked and the quantities specified are given to the member. A printed statement with a halftone watermark applied at the time it was sent to the printer would probably work best.

Let's say the member needed food, but only certain items were needed, even within a group of items on the form. Take fruit for example and I'll use an underscore to represent a fill-in box on the form:

_Oranges
_Apples
_Cherries
_Strawberries

Let's say the bishop and member find they need only 3 pounds of bananas and 5 pounds of apples. The printout after filling in the boxes for those items would look like this:

3 lb. Bananas
5 lb. Apples

The rest would not show at all on the printout the member took to the storehouse.

At the storehouse, the member would take the printout, and after the member met with the bishop, the bishop would send the electronic filled-in form to the storehouse probably via MLS, and the person at the storehouse would probably have the emailed form printed out, just in case the member's form was either missing or screwed up somehow such as water damage or other things.

As for the PDF version, a similar type setup to this that might even be more preferable, but this would be the fast way, a lot like the Missionary System is now, except with less involved otherwise.
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#9Postby jonesrk » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:17 am

boomerbubba wrote:As for authentication, I am assuming this would have to be a centrally developed application, not something homegrown. So I also am assuming that authenticating bishops, clerks and RS presidents is a general problem that is about to be solved by LDS Accounts.


For centrally developed applications, and the community applications, the callings from MLS via CDOL are available, so only authenticating bishops, clerks and RS presidents and knowing their roles is already available.
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#10Postby RossEvans » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:12 am

ryan jones wrote:For centrally developed applications, and the community applications, the callings from MLS via CDOL are available, so only authenticating bishops, clerks and RS presidents and knowing their roles is already available.


Thanks, that's what I am assuming. The intent of my comment was to include "community" applications under the umbrella term of "centrally developed" applications, since both are accomplished under direction of architects at CHQ and both can take advantage of the LDS Account authentication and secure central servers.

My overall view is that the back-end problems are just that -- design problems readily amenable to engineering solution. The bottleneck seems to be the lack of input devices on the local level -- particularly portable devices -- for efficient data entry. We are not yet at the point where we can assume that local leaders own such devices. And the clerk's computer and office are already bottlenecked.
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