HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
Gary_Miller
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby Gary_Miller » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:16 pm

In order to maintain order someone has to be in charge. Right now that is the developers at HQ.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby brandonreed08 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:32 pm

Just because the because crowdsourcing failed previously does not mean it should not be employed now or in the future. Failure is a part of the innovative process. Failure is a right of passage in start up circles. So just because it failed at one time doesn't mean it shouldn't be done again with a few modifications having learned the lessons from the failed instances.

A method that is high quality and proprietary tends to overshoot quality demanded overtime, while lower quality methods that are modular tend to become good enough overtime and less costly. Proprietary solutions have their place as the right approach at first but the modular approaches become better and more accepted in the end. This has been studied over hundreds of different industries by Dr. Christensen and his colleagues. The church as an organization is not immune from such realities. Android vs. IOS is an current example of this, as Android has finally overtaken IOS in the market and is projected to continue to do so. Salesforce.com vs. Oracle is another example. The use of Wordpress instead of proprietary websites is another example. Closed systems and open systems have their times and seasons.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:16 am

The main thing I've learned from all this I think is that we are not using our resources correctly. It took me a little over 20 hours to develop to rinky dink version. Why couldn't a team of 4-5 developers do an awesome version in a few months?

I think MLS has been a crutch when it comes to making changes in any church system. As Elder Quorum President I have stopped inputting the home teaching assignments/reports into MLS all together. Only our stake seems interested in our home teaching numbers(which we e-mail them). I have used Google Docs spreadsheets, which isn't too bad, and allows your District leaders to make edits as well. I would recommend it for sure.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby aebrown » Fri Jun 07, 2013 12:45 pm

jdkinkle wrote:The main thing I've learned from all this I think is that we are not using our resources correctly.

"Correctly" is a matter of opinion; clearly those who have the authority and responsibility to allocate development resources think differently from you.

jdkinkle wrote:Why couldn't a team of 4-5 developers do an awesome version in a few months?

The Church has excellent developers; I have no doubt that a team could develop a great HT/VT application in a reasonable time frame. But the issue is that those in authority have not yet chosen to create such an application. We don't know why, but it's not because the Church doesn't have the resources.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:07 pm

aebrown wrote:"Correctly" is a matter of opinion; clearly those who have the authority and responsibility to allocate development resources think differently from you.

The Church has excellent developers; I have no doubt that a team could develop a great HT/VT application in a reasonable time frame. But the issue is that those in authority have not yet chosen to create such an application. We don't know why, but it's not because the Church doesn't have the resources.


Might I suggest that I am correct in saying this needs to be a priority? There are apps that are quite useful, but in reality don't save much time. For example the hymn app. It's cool - but in almost every case I see it used-a hymn book is readily available. For those who have actually had to organize home teaching now it's a real time consumer. It takes away your time from ministering. It really should be priority.

As far as the church having great developers -that may be true but the proof is in the pudding. Have you used MLS? How long did it take to get a good version of LDS.org up and running? The iOS apps are good though. The rest of the software should be as easy to use as the iOS stuff.

My question becomes this- assuming home teaching is important-and the resources are available, why is this not being done?

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby russellhltn » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:19 pm

jdkinkle wrote:My question becomes this- assuming home teaching is important-and the resources are available, why is this not being done?

There is no one here who can answer that question. The Brethren who make that decision do not visit here and have not communicated any reason.

I can point out that developing a church hymn app is far simpler. The HT/VT app requires MLS to be modified to sync that info. And the back end has to be modified and created to house that information. Only then can a web-based HT/VT app be started. Also, many questions are likely to arise as to how much information should the system gather and who is allowed to see it, etc. That requires policy decisions from The Brethren as well as the legal department - not just for the US, but for all countries the church operates.

And that's just the issues that I know about. And I don't consider myself an "insider", but just a avid reader of the forums.
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby Gary_Miller » Fri Jun 07, 2013 2:35 pm

jdkinkle wrote:Might I suggest that I am correct in saying this needs to be a priority? There are apps that are quite useful, but in reality don't save much time.


I don't think an app should be a priority there are much bigger things that need accomplished before a HT/VT app should be developed for the convenience.

For now MLS serve a good purpose for taking care of HT/VT all that needs done is for those responsible to make it a priority to keep it data updated, once updated its easy to maintain. Also its work a lot better if user go in at other times to input the data.

In my ward us clerks will do it for you all you have to do is give us the information.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:08 pm

The Brethren who make that decision do not visit here and have not communicated any reason.


Well why would we have an Ideas & Suggestions forum if no one who actually makes decisions reads the forum? The point of this board is to make priorities based on suggestions. I think the home teaching app is one the top things mentioned here on the forums.

I can point out that developing a church hymn app is far simpler.


I doubt you actually know this. Were you on the developing team that made this app? Are you a software developer? You mentioned MLS being the hold up. Why does Home Teaching need to be done through MLS? I have never heard the general church offices using home teaching statistics or assignments. It can be done through a separate database. One that is accessible only to the appropriate leaders.

Like I've said before, it's doable. I have a good friend who could develop a back end and front end (web app and iOS app) in a matter of months.

I don't think an app should be a priority there are much bigger things that need accomplished before a HT/VT app should be developed for the convenience.


Enlighten me, please name something that should have priority over this. What else is mentioned on the 'ideas and suggestions' forum more than home teaching/visiting application? Have you served in a High Priest Group leadership? Have you served in an Elder's Quorum Presidency? It's not about convenience. It's about spending less time administering and spending more time ministering. I suggest you are mistaken about MLS being a decent program. I think by most modern software standards it's rather clunky. The only reason it is being used is because their is no alternative. In a commercial market MLS would die rather quickly.

The most frustrating thing about this whole thing is the naysayers(russelhtn mostly) come on after almost every idea and are somewhat critical. I think you will notice the number of post have gone down from almost 2 - 4 years ago. People are tired of coming to here to suggest an idea, only to have someone with no actual authority suggest why it's a bad idea. It has ruined the whole purpose of these fourms (which is member interaction/involvement in the technologies). I apologize if this comes off as contentious. I do believe it though, and see it as hindrance to the good work that could be done. All I want to see is the work of the Lord move forward and not be help back by out of date technologies. Nor do I want to see us pass on ideas that in reality are greatly needed just because some people don't see the immediate benefits.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby Gary_Miller » Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:48 pm

jdkinkle wrote:Enlighten me, please name something that should have priority over this.

The ability to do, calling and releases, Custom reports, record ordinances, finances, just to name a few. This would decrease the time clerks have to spend at the church working as well as ensure a much more accurate data base.

jdkinkle wrote:What else is mentioned on the 'ideas and suggestions' forum more than home teaching/visiting application?

It does not matter what is asked for the most. What matters is what can help the clerks the most in their calling as they are the ones who use the system the most.

jdkinkle wrote:Have you served in a High Priest Group leadership?

Yep before we even had MLS. I was also a clerk when the records were keep in a lock box and everything was done by type writer. In fact I was the one in my stake at the time who implementer the member information system first. Oh and just for general information it was a military ward that served a military base. Only 10 civilian families in the ward.

jdkinkle wrote:It's not about convenience. It's about spending less time administering and spending more time ministering.

If the HP Group Leaders and Elders Quorum presidents learn to use their secretaries more efficient they would have much more time to minister because the secretary and ward clerks would do all the administering.

jdkinkle wrote:I suggest you are mistaken about MLS being a decent program. I think by most modern software standards it's rather clunky. The only reason it is being used is because their is no alternative.

Having use many data bases over they years of desk top computers coming into reality MLS is a very good program in comparison. While it has a few glitches for the most part it easy to learn and easy to use, and most importantly it gets the job done. As a data base it serves it purpose rather well.


jdkinkle wrote:People are tired of coming to here to suggest an idea, only to have someone with no actual authority suggest why it's a bad idea. It has ruined the whole purpose of these forums (which is member interaction/involvement in the technologies).

The purpose of these forms the way I understand it is to help clerks and other members in working through problems they may have with the church technologies. Its not a place for making technological suggestions or feed back. At least that's my understanding.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdlessley » Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:13 pm

Please don't take my comments as intending to dissuade, discourage, or contend against any ideas, suggestions, or comments. My comments are intended to inform.

There are those in the community who have been watching and discussing the development of technologies in the Church for quite a few years. Some at lot longer than others. Most of their comments are a result of those observations, following closely all forum discussions, getting occasional feedback from insiders, and in some cases having restricted discussions with some ICS leaders and programers as a result of positions as mods/admins.

jdkinkle wrote:Well why would we have an Ideas & Suggestions forum if no one who actually makes decisions reads the forum?

The Ideas & Suggestions forum purpose statement reads as follows:
So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
(Bold added for emphasis.)

The purpose of that forum is to discuss within the community. I can see how that purpose statement may give the impression that a decision maker is going to be involved since it is asking for ideas "that the Church ... needs to develop". But unfortunately, the community has no inside communication system, other than for forum construct itself, to push on/up ideas or suggestions. As a side note, there are developers who visit certain forums such as the LDS.org Tools forums and MLS forums and take feedback and suggestions to improve those products. Other than that, we only have a hope that our discussions in other forums, like the Ideas & Suggestions forum, will be seen and acted upon. But there is no certainty because, as has been stated, we get no feedback from the decision makers.

The Church's Information and Communications Systems (ICS) Department does not have decision authority in many matters that a corporate IT department typically has. In the case of HT/VT, it is the Priesthood Department that makes decisions regarding HT/VT and the technologies that may be used to support it.

The community is a consumer of many of the technology products but is not the customer. For the most part, internal development is a top down process. Church departments sponsor development efforts. The Priesthood Department appears to have the largest influence in technology development that the community consumes. Prioritization of development is set to meet the needs of the customer - Church departments.

jdkinkle wrote:The point of this board is to make priorities based on suggestions.

Unfortunately that is far from the truth. We, as a community, can prioritize all we want. But since we are not the customers we can only hope our desires get to those who are the customers and they either agree with our priorities or are influenced by our discussions.

LDSTech Forum discussions are not fruitless and without influence either. We have seen changes made, or development started, without knowing whether the decision makers knew of the forum discussions. The frustration that has been expressed about those who make the decisions is not knowing whether they know what the community is concerned about and discussing and whether they even consider that information. We sometimes know when they say no to a proposal but we do not know why or what change would be necessary to get approval. The hardest test of patience is when the only answer we get is "not now". In the "no" or "not now" answers there is no further explanation nor conditions provided that would result in approval. This has essentially been the case for a Church developed/approved HT/VT application.

jdkinkle wrote:I think the home teaching app is one the top things mentioned here on the forums.

It most certainly has been a frequently discussed topic. There have been some who have taken independent action to develop their own apps. Surviving today is ReturnAndReport. You can contact brado426, the owner/developer of ReturnAndReport, for his first hand experience in trying to get the Church to develop an application or take over a third party development effort such as his own.

jdkinkle wrote:
I can point out that developing a church hymn app is far simpler.

I doubt you actually know this.

As a comparative between developing a church hymn app and a HT/VT app, we do know this. The added difficulty for a HT/VT app lies in the need to develop the infrastructure to get HT/VT data from the local MLS to back-end data hosting. Hosting HT/VT data on a back-end while at the same time maintaining it on local MLS is necessary to accommodate all Church units and all Church members needing access to HT/VT data. Not all Church users and Church units have access to the Internet. Accommodating HT/VT on both the Internet and in local MLS is more complex than the more simple app development for church hymns.

Whether or not to proceed with a HT/VT application involves more than programming an application. It most logically involves funds to modify current communications and hosting infrastructure. Those funding requirements may be significant and would have to be prioritized with other programs, both technology based and non-technology based. Without knowing what the Priesthood Department has to prioritize, we can only speculate. Additionally we have no idea of the scope of the capabilities of a HT/VT application the Priesthood Department may be considering or are willing to consider. We have discussed that topic in some other threads.
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