HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

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russellhltn
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:36 pm

jdkinkle wrote:I am curious though what you think about using Google Docs.

I haven't seen anyone in authority say anything against it. So it appears to be acceptable. But I'd still keep the amount of sensitive information to a minimum.

It should be pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between a HT/VT site and Google Docs (besides knowing something about who is behind it). The HT/VT site understands the data that's been given to it. It knows the name field, address field, etc. A Google Doc could be any kind of data. The structure is unknown to the computer hosting it. So it's a little harder for someone with malicious intent to exploit it. A small measure of "security by obscurity" if you will. If someone wanted to get information on church members, one way to do it might be to offer some kind of service targeted toward the church. Kind of like a variation of spear phishing.


jdkinkle wrote:Google Docs is very secure though and it is easy to protect sensitive information.

It uses the same login as GMail and I've seen a number of them compromised (along with other webmails like yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)

That said, the church has contracted out some of their email systems to GMail, so the church must have a certain level of comfort with them.
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:46 pm

jdkinkle wrote:Interestingly enough, after talking to my stake president today, he gave us permission to stop using MLS all together. As long as we get the unit quarterly reports in the ward as well as monthly reports to the stake he said we could do what we choose.


It will be interesting to see what the long-term effects of that are. There may not be any in the short-term, but I've heard stories about GAs showing up for Stake Conference armed with all the unit stats ready to discuss them with the Stake President. That would be a great time to bring up the need for HT/VT on the web, but I'm not sure as that will be the SP's initial reaction. ;)
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:19 pm

Gary_Miller wrote:What a mistake MLS is such and easy program to use and the HT/VT portion of the program ties directly to the member data base where reports can be run by the bishop that shows him the stautus of HT/VT in his ward.


Mistake? I don't think so. Not to boast, but my ward has been able to maintain above a 90 % average in home teaching this past year. I feel it's because we spend as little time in MLS as possible and much more time ministering and actually making the visits and talking to our home teachers.

And did you actually say again MLS is easy? While it's not overly complicated putting in the assignments is very tedious. In our ward there is a lot of turnover, so putting in the assignments takes time. Google Docs saves us that time.

Gary_Miller wrote:And where one can use a third party program or even implement one of their own it would require one to have to input membership data and takes away the ability of the bishop and clerks to run reports that would give bishops the instant information they may need.

How is this going to easy the administrative burden you spoke about earlier in order to give you time to minister to the members of the ward that your quorum is responsible for?
...
Which now will have to be calculated using another program and the data hand inserted into the report instead the program compiling the numbers and inserting them automatically.


The Bishop has access to the google doc we use so he can view the report on home teaching anytime he likes. AND he can view them from anywhere as well. He doesn't have to be at the church. That has been a big bonus.

The only report that I have to send, to our ward, is a quarterly report, which includes basic information, like home teaching percentages and families missed and attendance. It takes about 2 minutes for the clerk to put it into his report. A few hours saved in the organization makes that 2 minutes worth it. Again the beauty of this report, is that I can do it ANYWHERE. Not only in the church.

Actually as a clerk I'm able to see the needs of everyone who is using MLS. I can see and understand that somethings could be better and that the capabilities to do things using an app or online program like clerk resources would greatly help in enabling one to fulfill their call in a more convenient manner. I just feel somethings are need sooner than others and that those who use MLS the most should have their needs taken care of sooner than others.


I'm sorry but I don't think you do know the needs. It seems you are claiming you know the responsibilities that I have, but that I don't understand your responsibilities. Just because you are the clerk does not mean you fully understand what it's like to be an Elders Quorum President or Relief Society President or High Priest Group Leader and their needs within MLS. I do not believe you go to their weekly meetings.

Also you mention that because you use MLS the most, improvements should focus on helping YOU out. I might mention my motivation in making home teaching organization easier is so an Elder's Quorum President/Relief Society President or High Priest Group Leader can spend more time ministering. The ward clerk does not have the responsibility to minister.

I don't want to be contentious. I think my ward has figured out a great way to do home teaching. I would just like to have my idea heard out. I am grateful for legitimate concerns or suggestions.

I don't appreciate, however, being told I am making a mistake in my calling(but not using my secretary properly) or being told that my stake president is making a mistake because he gave us permission to stop using MLS. Without much knowledge of the situation nor the results we have achieved you made several judgements(of people who have been given keys I might add). If you ward is able to achieve good results because of the way you use MLS, I would love to hear about it. If not, I suggest you open up to newer ideas that may help out your ward.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:41 pm

It will be interesting to see what the long-term effects of that are. There may not be any in the short-term, but I've heard stories about GAs showing up for Stake Conference armed with all the unit stats ready to discuss them with the Stake President. That would be a great time to bring up the need for HT/VT on the web, but I'm not sure as that will be the SP's initial reaction.


This is something you could perhaps provide some clarification for me on. I know that as an EQ President I can input the statistics and the will be available to the church. The assistant clerk in my stake today claimed the main report I am still doing which is to the stake(which is just basic percentages I believe) is sent to the church by along with the other ward statistics. I must admit I have not input any numbers into MLS for about 6 months- and have not heard from any leaders(local or from the church). I am curious if they are receiving the data they desire or if somewhere there is a general authority saying, "That ward really needs to get going on MLS!". I don't quite fully understand how the reports are used on church levels.

It should be pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between a HT/VT site and Google Docs (besides knowing something about who is behind it). The HT/VT site understands the data that's been given to it.


You do make very good points. I do appreciate the concern and the feedback even though I express frustrations with them. They are things that would need to be addressed. Maybe if nothing else I can create an app as a "proof of concept". Maybe show what I think a good app would be able to do.

I think we do agree a church owned application would be better. I just need to be patient and wait for it to happen when the time is right.

It uses the same login as GMail and I've seen a number of them compromised (along with other webmails like yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)

That said, the church has contracted out some of their email systems to GMail, so the church must have a certain level of comfort with them.


Another valid concern. Our ward actually does use an "Elders Quorum" account for GMail, which is the owner to all the home teaching documents. Interestingly enough it has a "Bishopric" account(I hand no part in this but I've been told they use it to store bishopric meeting agendas) and a a "Relief Society" account as well. Not saying it's the best way things should be done, but it has been helpful for us at least.

Again, thanks for your concerns and sorry for any contentious comments I have made.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:58 pm

jdkinkle wrote:This is something you could perhaps provide some clarification for me on. I know that as an EQ President I can input the statistics and the will be available to the church. The assistant clerk in my stake today claimed the main report I am still doing which is to the stake(which is just basic percentages I believe) is sent to the church by along with the other ward statistics. I must admit I have not input any numbers into MLS for about 6 months- and have not heard from any leaders(local or from the church). I am curious if they are receiving the data they desire or if somewhere there is a general authority saying, "That ward really needs to get going on MLS!". I don't quite fully understand how the reports are used on church levels.


My knowledge of this is limited. I do know that all ward stats that goes to the stake does so via Church Headquarters. I would imagine that there are ways for CHQ to look at the stats of any unit, but I have no idea what they do on a ongoing basis.

Maybe it's different for units close to CHQ, but in my experience, when a GA comes for stake conference, it's not just for the Sunday session. There are a series of meetings at the request of the GA with various leaders. So it seems reasonable that in the week prior to meeting with the stake president, a GA may pull statistical information for review and discuss any concerns that arise out of the data. But that may depend on a particular GA's style of leadership.
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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby Gary_Miller » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:33 pm

jdkinkle wrote:I'm sorry but I don't think you do know the needs. It seems you are claiming you know the responsibilities that I have, but that I don't understand your responsibilities. Just because you are the clerk does not mean you fully understand what it's like to be an Elders Quorum President or Relief Society President or High Priest Group Leader and their needs within MLS. I do not believe you go to their weekly meetings.

Having been a High Priest Group Leader I am very aware of the responsibilities of the calling. And as the go to man in my ward concerning all matters within MLS I am more than aware of the needs of the Elders Quorum President, Relief Society President and the High Priest Group Leader. I also know that the best way to help them is by taking as much of the administration tasks I can out of the hands and into the hands of their secretaries and the ward clerks office. In my ward these presidents and group leaders only have to provide the information and the clerks will do all the work for them.

jdkinkle wrote:The ward clerk does not have the responsibility to minister.

Your right the wards clerks responsibility is one of administration.

jdkinkle wrote:I don't want to be contentious. I think my ward has figured out a great way to do home teaching. I would just like to have my idea heard out. I am grateful for legitimate concerns or suggestions.

I don't want to be contentious ether I'm only pointing out the flaws I see in you thinking and the reason I feel they will cause problems down the road. What happens when the you or the bishop of the stake president is released and the new person placed in that position feels that using MLS is important yet none of the data for the last, how many years, is not in the system?

jdkinkle wrote:I don't appreciate, however, being told I am making a mistake in my calling(but not using my secretary properly) or being told that my stake president is making a mistake because he gave us permission to stop using MLS. Without much knowledge of the situation nor the results we have achieved you made several judgements(of people who have been given keys I might add).

Sorry if I offended you but I only call it as I see it based on the information I have. In this case all I see is potential problems down the road, which will fall on someone else responsibility and not yours because you will be released. Thus the reason I feel not using MLS is a mistake. There is a reason the church has spent time and money developing the MLS program, and it is not my place to question its effectiveness, its my place to make sure its used to the fullest. This is still the Lord church and he is the one who has placed these tools into our hands to use, it our responsibility to utilize the tools to its fullest.

jdkinkle wrote:If you ward is able to achieve good results because of the way you use MLS, I would love to hear about it.

We have great success in using MLS mostly because we have resolved to ensuring the data in the system is accurate as possible. Accuracy and the willingness of the clerks to provide good administration services to ward member is what it takes to achieve not only good but excellent results.

jdkinkle wrote:If not, I suggest you open up to newer ideas that may help out your ward.

I open to newer ideas as long as they are based on sound principles and practices. However while I'm waiting for all these new ideas to be discussed, decided on, and implemented I have now choice but to utilize the programs and systems given to me to accomplish my responsibilities.

With that I think I will try and refrain from further comments as we are not going to agree 100% on the subject of immediate need for a new HT/VT reporting system. Thank you for a good discussion.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby jdkinkle » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:10 pm

Sorry if I offended you but I only call it as I see it based on the information I have.


Then perhaps you shouldn't call it. I suggest "Calling it as you see it" is really just a form of judgement. In this case judgement without knowledge.

What happens when the you or the bishop of the stake president is released and the new person placed in that position feels that using MLS is important yet none of the data for the last, how many years, is not in the system?


Then they start using MLS. Does a Bishop really care the state of home teaching 3 years ago? Does an EQ President need to know how the last EQ President did? Maybe, but I doubt it. I know I haven't looked at any data in MLS after I have put it in. I am not suggesting no one uses MLS. If they want to, go for it.

We have great success in using MLS mostly because we have resolved to ensuring the data in the system is accurate as possible. Accuracy and the willingness of the clerks to provide good administration services to ward member is what it takes to achieve not only good but excellent results.


I honestly do hope you have great success in ward. I am just saying in our ward we have found a way that has saved us a lot of time and opened the door for the success we are having. Thanks for the discussion as well.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby ggllbb » Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:51 am

Just a light note.....

In the late 70s or early 80s (I have a hard time remembering back that far), long before any local church records were done on computers, I served as Elders Quorum Secretary. I created a data base with front end and reports that ran on my an Apple II (anyone remember those pre PC computers?). It was much easier and accurate to track things that way than by doing it all on paper. It worked very well for us at the time.

I'm all for doing what works best, whether it be MSL or some other method. Both have advantages and disadvantages. And as far as I know there is nothing that says you MUST use MLS. I also anxiously await an official lds.org on line solution. When that happens, though, there will still be complaints that it doesn't work this way or that, Or, is should do this or that.

I find it fascinating that back in the early 80s the Apple II data base I developed and used was amazing to most. Now, in this information age, those kind of things are expected, and to some, very wrong if not available.

One more thing. I'm just curious, jdkinkle, how do you keep up with move in move out members? The MLS HT reports can give you that directly.

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Re: HomeTeaching Organizer App Beta Version

Postby brado426 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:56 pm

This thread is giving me nostalgia (not in a good way). :)

Some developers have a "let's get it done now" attitude and some have a "let's get it done whenever" attitude. Unfortunately, I am the "get it done now" type of developer and I picked the wrong project to get done now. Working with the Church proved to be frustrating and ultimately a complete waste of my time. I had to learn the hard way that this project was hopeless from the beginning.

On the other hand, it seems that some other developers who have "get it done now" attitudes have successfully completed some projects for the Church.

So my point is that you should volunteer to do work for the Church, but when you choose your projects, do as the Knight who guards the grail advises.... choose wisely! :)

Brad O.


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