MLS Suggestions

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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daddy-o-p40
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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:14 am

Mike, these are good suggestions. I have a few on my wish list too.

1. Talent and Interest Form
I would like to see the ability to capture the information this form collects included in MLS so we can report on it.

2. Home / Visit Teaching Notes
I would like to see the ability to collect actionable information recorded by Home and Visit Teaching programs so it is available to the Bishopric.

3. Custom Reports Improved
I would like to see custom reports improved so that column sizes and orientations are saved so we do not have to play with the formatting each time.

4. Primary / YM / YW Mailing Labels
Printing the rolls for the youth is great. However, we really need the ability to print mailing labels to the parents of primary / YM / YW also. What we have to do now is sift through the records and it is time better spent preaching the gospel.
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:49 am

daddy-o wrote:Mike, these are good suggestions. I have a few on my wish list too.

Thanks for adding your suggestions to the mix. It's great how we see so many good proposals from the community.

daddy-o wrote:1. Talent and Interest Form
I would like to see the ability to capture the information this form collects included in MLS so we can report on it.


The Custom Member Fields feature of MLS already does this. In my opinion it could be greatly improved in its usability, and there could be standard features for reporting on the information (right now you can only do a Custom Report), but the capability does exist.

  • In MLS, go to Membership Records > View and Update > Custom Member Fields
  • Select the member
  • On the Talents and Interests screen, use the Add button to add whatever talents and interests apply to that member.
  • Optionally, use the Custom Fields screen (accessible on the left side immediately below Talents and Interests) to add any customized talents or interests that are not in the default set.
  • To add fields to additional members, you can easily go to the previous/next member or select a different member while still in the Talents and Interests screen by using the blue arrow and Find buttons in the upper right corner.

To report on these, create a Custom Report

  • You may want to have a criterion such as "Talent or Interest | has a value".
  • You can optionally select a particular talent or interest value, e.g. "Talent or Interest | is | Dance"
  • On the Format screen, you probably want to select the "Talents or Interests" field

The formatting and selection options are limited, and could definitely be improved, but MLS does allow you to store and report on talents and interests.

daddy-o wrote:2. Home / Visit Teaching Notes
I would like to see the ability to collect actionable information recorded by Home and Visit Teaching programs so it is available to the Bishopric.

This implies an entire system for collecting this information, which is a big job. It is a great suggestion, however.

I would note that Brad O (who has made many valuable contributions to this forum, in addition to his software efforts) has created a HT/VT web application as a third-party application, which is described in this thread. This application has the functionality you suggest. I won't go into the long story which is part of that thread, but Brad offered his application to the Church, but to date the Church has not taken him up on the offer.

daddy-o wrote:3. Custom Reports Improved
I would like to see custom reports improved so that column sizes and orientations are saved so we do not have to play with the formatting each time.


The column sizes are already saved with custom reports.

  • Add (or Edit) a Custom Report
  • Go to the Format screen
  • Click the Select button in the Set Column Widths box
  • Set the desired widths, then Close
  • Remember to Save your changes

However, as Mikerowaved mentioned as well, the page orientation (and other page setup values) are not saved at this point. That would indeed be a helpful improvement.

daddy-o wrote:4. Primary / YM / YW Mailing Labels
Printing the rolls for the youth is great. However, we really need the ability to print mailing labels to the parents of primary / YM / YW also. What we have to do now is sift through the records and it is time better spent preaching the gospel.


This is already in MLS.

  • Go to the class (Organizations > Primary/Laurels/Mia Maids/Beehives)
  • Use the Show dropdown to show the desired class (in the case of Primary) and section (probably Members)
  • From the main menu, choose File > Print Mailing Labels
  • Check the box "Show Head of Household"
  • Select the desired records (probably Select All)
  • Print (or Preview) the labels

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Postby RossEvans » Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:19 am

Alan_Brown wrote:
Originally Posted by daddy-o
2. Home / Visit Teaching Notes
I would like to see the ability to collect actionable information recorded by Home and Visit Teaching programs so it is available to the Bishopric.


This implies an entire system for collecting this information, which is a big job. It is a great suggestion, however.



If daddy-o means what I think he means -- a free-form note-taking ability to capture information about members or families in MLS -- I am guessing that the Church avoids doing this as a matter of policy.

Undoubtedly priesthood and quorum leaders would find it handy, but my surmise is that the Church doesn't want us keeping dossiers on members within Church computer systems. That would be too easily misused. So this functionality is deliberately left to whatever private records and communications channels the leaders have offline, mostly verbal. (PEC, PPIs, etc.)

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The greatest improvement would be

Postby falisrm-p40 » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:31 am

To allow registered users to have access to MLS through their home computer. It doesn't have to be the full version, just enough to be able to look up reports or develop home teaching routes or something to that effect.

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Postby WelchTC » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:22 am

daddy-o wrote:1. Talent and Interest Form
I would like to see the ability to capture the information this form collects included in MLS so we can report on it.

This area is a project we have been trying to get approval for within the Church for a while. The idea is to create a "Talent Warehouse" where people from all over the world could enter in their "Talents" and then based upon permissions, etc. leaders could pull from that talent source. This would not be a "jobs board" but more of a "volunteer board". We would like to have the community help us build the project. We are still in the "permissions" stage.

Tom

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daddy-o-p40
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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:41 am

Alan, thanks for the suggestions. I am familiar with with the custom fields but this capability is just too limited. The complexity to use and manage would mean that you'd need a technician to manage it's use. Just not turn key enough for us. We really need this in MLS so that this info is accessible at the ward and stake level.

As for the www.returnandreport.org suggestion for collecting HT and VT notes/comments we were early adopters. However, www.returnandreport.org only collects visit stats. The comments get email to HP, EL and RS leaders. What we need is to keep a repository of appropriate notes from Home and Visit Teachers on inactives so that new Home Teachers and Leaders will build on past experiences.
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Postby RossEvans » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:17 am

daddy-o wrote:As for the www.returnandreport.org suggestion for collecting HT and VT notes/comments we were early adopters. However, www.returnandreport.org only collects visit stats. The comments get email to HP, EL and RS leaders. What we need is to keep a repository of appropriate notes from Home and Visit Teachers on inactives so that new Home Teachers and Leaders will build on past experiences.


I understand the desire and the perceived need. Right now all this subjective detail is captured only in the memory and ad hoc records of bishoprics and quorum presidencies. The intelligence gets lost when these callings turn over, is not rigorously shared between bishoprics and quorums, it gets forgotten between meetings and PPIs, etc. So the systems analyst and DBA in me says, "It's a no-brainer! Capture it in a shared database and let leaders drill down in an application."

But I also think this is a good example of why the Church is not governed by systems analysts and DBAs. As I said above, I surmise that such functionality is deliberately left out of MLS because It is too easily misused and amounts to keeping dossiers on members in Church computer systems. I don't know that for sure, since I am not a Church policymaker, but I think it's pretty obvious.

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Postby lajackson » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:54 am

boomerbubba wrote:I understand the desire and the perceived need. ...
But I also ... surmise that such functionality is deliberately left out of MLS ...


Sometimes it is better not to have such information. With inspiration, the new person in the calling, whether home teacher or bishop, is often able to help a member better without knowing what went on before.

I think the Church already keeps track of the specific information it desires to pass from leader to leader.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:59 am

I have to agree with boomerbubba on this. IMO, the existing lines of communication from HT to Bishop probably shouldn't include MLS, where others that don't really need to know might have access to the information.

In our Ward, our EQ Pres has solved this by setting up a special email address just for HT reporting. The HT can either simply report they have completed their assignment, or include additional information about one or more families on their route that may need to come to the Bishop's attention. From these emails, the stats are gathered and entered into MLS once a month. Important emails can be brought to the attention of the Bishop, if needed, but at the very least are saved in a special archive folder that can either be passed on to the next EQ Pres., or purged if desired. If an email is not received by a certain day of the month, follow-up phone calls are issued to the appropriate HT(s).

Might not be the best solution in the world, but it works and everyone here understands it.

Mike
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Postby rmrichesjr » Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:03 pm

falisrm wrote:To allow registered users to have access to MLS through their home computer. It doesn't have to be the full version, just enough to be able to look up reports or develop home teaching routes or something to that effect.


... and enter home teaching visits, please.


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