Home Teaching / Visiting Teaching Application

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:13 pm

boomerbubba wrote:This is not a done deal. It is an unresolved management issue, which I think would be better resolved up-front. So far, the working assumption of management, as articulated by other senior leaders of the project team, is that there are no concrete plans for integration.

Well, that's what big organization and companies do I'm afraid. If you wait too long, nothing will ever happen. I think the other organizations in the Church may be waiting to see what we build first before signing off on integration like this.

I think we as the Community should build it now, while creating means to allow others to consume the data later through a service.

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Postby kennethjorgensen » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:00 pm

mkmurray wrote:Well, that's what big organization and companies do I'm afraid. If you wait too long, nothing will ever happen. I think the other organizations in the Church may be waiting to see what we build first before signing off on integration like this.

I think we as the Community should build it now, while creating means to allow others to consume the data later through a service.


Good point. It sounds like the HT/VT application is the pilot scheme for any future community developed projects so there are good reasons for leaving out the integration to MLS for now but still bear in mind it will be added later.

Proving this new additional way of developing church software seems more important than having immediate integration into MLS. That can added later once we have substance and have proven it can be done.

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Postby aebrown » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:23 pm

dkjorgi wrote:Good point. It sounds like the HT/VT application is the pilot scheme for any future community developed projects so there are good reasons for leaving out the integration to MLS for now but still bear in mind it will be added later.


It is by no means certain that MLS integration will be added later -- the people who have made statements to that effect are not on the MLS team and thus cannot make the decision to integrate with MLS, even if they enable such integration by providing appropriate services. However, I can certainly understand that there could be good reasons for delaying the integration for now. One big reason would be that the difficulty involved in coordinating the MLS changes with the HT/VT changes would create a significant delay in the HT/VT project.

dkjorgi wrote: Proving this new additional way of developing church software seems more important than having immediate integration into MLS. That can added later once we have substance and have proven it can be done.


As long as the HT/VT capabilities of MLS are not neglected (and certainly not removed) prematurely, stakes will be able to decide if they want to use the new HT/VT app or not. Such a decision would be much easier if MLS integration were eventually provided. Until that point, a stake would have to weigh the loss of MLS HT/VT information against the benefits of the new HT/VT system (or the cost and risk of double entering HT/VT data -- which I'm guessing would be deemed to be prohibitive in most cases).

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:49 pm

mkmurray wrote:I want to make sure I don't misunderstand your comments on the wiki. The reason you think that the Community should not develop the Administrative screens for HT/VT App is because it is likely this App will be absorbed by "MLS Web." We could design that module with the ability to be carved out later, but this will be so closely tied to the underlying data that it will be difficult to be completly modular.

Is this all correct?


Actually, since I wrote that I learned from DJC herethat a more general "MLS Web" application is still not much more than a twinkle in someone's eye. (I think the professional euphemism is "envisioning.")

So the more realistic prospect is one of two bifurcated systems, MLS and this new web HT/VT app, operating in parallel -- but mutually exclusive from the standpoint of any particular unit, which must choose one or the other for all HT/VT data and functions -- for quite a long time. That leads to troubling roadmap issues.

mkmurray wrote:Let me ask this then...why do only the Administrative functions exhibit this problem? Why not reporting as well? Or other features? If we apply this logic to the extreme, a case could be made that the Church should develop the whole App then.


Yes, that case could be made. I am not making it because I can see there is a strategic goal of giving "the Community" some project to sink its teeth into. (I do think that choosing this complex project, with all the integration and migration issues, as the Community's debut may be too ambitious.) I am exploring places to draw the rules of engagement more narrowly, so that the Community can concentrate on the new, compelling core functionality of RetrunAndReport, which is gathering grass-roots HT/VT results.

mkmurray wrote:To me, it appears that MLS Web is just an idea and hope right now. It very could be that the Community might develop much of MLS Web (not all, as I can imagine there will be pieces the Church just can't delegate to us). I don't think the Church Developers have to right the Administrative module on the sole concern that it would integrate better with MLS Web later. I just don't think that's true. I believe the Community can design and implement something that would easily integrate with whatever the Church has later on for MLS Web. The key would be to have enough Church employee guidance to help us in designing something they will be able to use easily.


As I first suggested in the Wiki, one temporary solution might be to design the whole Adminstrative-screens function to be a disposable module, which could be superseded by a Church-developed module if the will and resources to develop one ever materialize. But with the abstraction of "MLS Web" far over the horizon, I now think a better strategic solution is to get Church developers to carve out that function and own it from the beginning.

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Postby mkmurray » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:59 pm

boomerbubba wrote:But with the abstraction of "MLS Web" far over the horizon, I now think a better strategic solution is to get Church developers to carve out that function and own it from the beginning.

I just don't understand why you think that module must be designed by Church developers. The design according to Tom Valletta is for this new App to be the sole owner of Church-hosted HT/VT data. I don't understand why MLS Web has anything to do with that (it could just use the service we provide if they were ever to be integrated); but now that you have agreed it appears it's just a idea right now, what else is holding you back?

I think the answer is that you are worried MLS will never hookup to our provided service, correct? If so, there is certainly a chance that might happen. I don't think it's likely if we show we can design like no one's business.

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Postby WelchTC » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:17 pm

Wow, I take a few days off and a lot of things happen! Great! Let me chime in.

1. Initially no plans are made to integrate with MLS for the following reasons.
a. Because currently MLS does not upload any home teaching info to CHQ.
b. Changing MLS to upload this information is a significant task.
c. With the replacement of MLS in the design works, it seems silly to spend a lot of money on the existing app.

Having said this, nothing is final. If it needs to be done, it could be done. There is no technical hurdle that would stop us from doing so.

2. If we wait for the Church to develop the HT/VT app, it will take a long time to get it on the priority list. We simply have too many higher priority projects as defined by our management. So the community needs to take this project and run with it. We do have dedicated resources on CHQ end. Chad is the product manager, Tom V. is the lead programmer. However we need help right now and immediately with interaction design. I'm helping with Program Management.

3. We can debate various issues in these forums but our hope is that once a decision is made, we all get behind it and contribute.

Tom

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:25 pm

mkmurray wrote:I just don't understand why you think that module must be designed by Church developers. The design according to Tom Valletta is for this new App to be the sole owner of Church-hosted HT/VT data. I don't understand why MLS Web has anything to do with that (it could just use the service we provide if they were ever to be integrated); but now that you have agreed it appears it's just a idea right now, what else is holding you back?


My reservations about the Administrative screens pertain mostly to the front-end functionality of the web application. Those reservations are explored in the Wiki here, particularly in my colloquy with the participant eblood. Those reservations are mostly about managing a forked roadmap for future development of MLS and this new "Community-owned" web application, which problems we can expect to have for quite a long time because there really is no "MLS Web" coming soon to reintegrate everything.

The issue Tom Valletta is discussing pertains primarliy to the back end. (As he quite sensibly points out, it is not a good idea to build a lot of business rules and functionality into the back end, which is mostly for storing, moving and serving data.) The back-end integration matters being discussed, as I understand them, relate primarily to the other issues of integrating the HT/VT data by pushing it back to MLS for local reporting. I basically have faith that the back-end service he describes could provide a framework for that, but obviously that only solves part of the problem. The MLS system still has to hook into this service, and the relevant managers do not seem to be signed up to that goal.

mkmurray wrote:I think the answer is that you are worried MLS will never hookup to our provided service, correct? If so, there is certainly a chance that might happen. I don't think it's likely if we show we can design like no one's business.


I hate to sound cynical, but all my instincts here are flashing danger. I have seen several major IT projects in the private and public sectors that have utterly failed. The common thread in those projects has not been technical failure, but management issues. When there are unresolved management issues at the outset of a project, and senior managers or customer sponsors have not marshalled the will and the resources for everything to succeed in the end, that is a serious warning signal.

Edit: I just read TomW's fresh comment above, and respectfully I don't see any reason to alter my opinion yet. The discussion on the Wiki has already moved beyond the hgh-level goals he and Chad articulated at the outset. I think we have identifed some concrete problems with a lack of integration, but still lack a plan for concrete solutions.

On one of these bullet points, I don't think anyone on the Wiki is currently proposing uploading information from the distriibuted MLS deskstop systems. We have been discussing pushing at least some HT/VT data back down to MLS.

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Postby WelchTC » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:06 pm

boomerbubba wrote:Edit: I just read TomW's fresh comment above, and respectfully I don't see any reason to alter my opinion yet. The discussion on the Wiki has already moved beyond the hgh-level goals he and Chad articulated at the outset. I think we have identifed some concrete problems with a lack of integration, but still lack a plan for concrete solutions.

One one of these bullet points, I don't think anyone on the Wiki is currently proposing uploading information from the distriibuted MLS deskstop systems. We have been discussing pushing at least some HT/VT data back down to MLS.


I really am not getting what the problem is. Please enlighten me. I can tell you, however, that if you want to wait for the Church to provide an integration plan, you will be waiting a very long time. We have 1 task right now. Let's get some UI screens put together on how the app will look. Wireframes are fine for this stage. Then we can start to take the next steps. But there is much to discuss. One thing is clear, however, let's not wait for the perfect solution to be figured out. There are too many people and too many opinions for that to happen.

Tom

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Postby mkmurray » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:11 pm

boomerbubba wrote:I hate to sound cynical, but all my instincts here are flashing danger. I have seen several major IT projects in the private and public sectors that have utterly failed. The common thread in those projects has not been technical failure, but management issues. When there are unresolved management issues at the outset of a project, and senior managers or customer sponsors have not marshalled the will and the resources for everything to succeed in the end, that is a serious warning signal.

While I agree this could happen, I personally think we've just got to go with our gut that it is a sound design and go forward. If we are confident about the design, it could be persuasive enough to enlist the right people to get online with us shortly after embarking on design. Perhaps we just all take an oath that will constantly bug the MLS team to get on board as we go forward. ;)
boomerbubba wrote:One one of these bullet points, I don't think anyone on the Wiki is currently proposing uploading information from the distriibuted MLS deskstop systems. We have been discussing pushing at least some HT/VT data back down to MLS.

Agreed; this would be nice, but unnecessary. MLS really only needs a read-only view of the HT/VT data from the Church servers.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:08 pm

tomw wrote:I really am not getting what the problem is. Please enlighten me. I can tell you, however, that if you want to wait for the Church to provide an integration plan, you will be waiting a very long time. We have 1 task right now. Let's get some UI screens put together on how the app will look. Wireframes are fine for this stage. Then we can start to take the next steps. But there is much to discuss. One thing is clear, however, let's not wait for the perfect solution to be figured out. There are too many people and too many opinions for that to happen.

Tom


Have you read the recent comments on the Wiki? (You mentioned that you have been out of touch for several days, and there has been a lot of activity.) The problems with lack of integration in reporting in MLS have been pretty well explored there.

I am having a hard time reconciling your estimate of "a very long time" with Chad's estimate of "mid 2009."

mkmurray wrote:
Agreed; this would be nice, but unnecessary. MLS really only needs a read-only view of the HT/VT data from the Church servers.


Are you saying that the task is so easy as to be no significant task at all, or are you proposing a new idea for a different architecture driven by the MLS client-side? In any case, I am having a hard time reconciling that assessment of difficulty with either of those estimates above.


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