"One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

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bwilcox17
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"One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#1

Post by bwilcox17 »

Hi all! We've recently undergone a complete Stake Presidency reorganization, including our Executive Secretary who is now our new Stake President. As such, this means a lot of "housecleaning" and maybe a refocusing of how we are communicating as a Presidency.

I'm tearing my hair out to figure out a solution that would meet the following parameters:

1. Reduce "reply all" emails (and emails in general) when communicating between the Stake Presidency, High Council, Stake Council Leadership, and Bishops
2. A customizable grouping of individuals with central management controlling access to specific resources
3. The functionality of Gospel Living Circles communication, but with all the caveats of #2
4. Integration with other apps/3rd-party add-ons allowing access to external drives, calendars, tasks, etc.
5. Ability for "quick voting" with emojis/reactions for things such as High Council polling that don't require extensive replies

I should clarify that I am both the Stake Clerk AND the Stake Technology specialist, and I professionally work as a Cybersecurity Manager for the Dept. of Defense.

I've considered several options, and have arrived at the following conclusions:

1. We have the Church-provided Zoom account, but it lacks "long-term" communication capabilities/chat/forums/historical recall. It's great as a webcast/broadcast solution, but that's the lane it needs to stay in.
2. Google Drive is awesome, but lacks any kind of GUI for communication/collaboration outside of the individual documents. (i.e. I can't create a "Stake YW" group in Google Drive" for them to communicate and share ideas, without it being in its own document). Any sort of collaboration will involve a cost commitment, that I don't want to necessarily pull the trigger on until I'm sure this is my only option. Additionally, I have a Stake Gmail account that is tied to the Zoom account, so management is relatively easy, and integrates with Google Calendar which is already used by the Presidency for scheduling interviews and building (since the Church calendar is often unreliable and buggy)
3. Microsoft Teams looked attractive, and a number of us in the Presidency and High Council have experience with this at professionally...but this is a relatively toothless product at the personal level. Without upgrading to O-365, channel communication/collaboration is not possible and is very messy.
4. Discord seems to check all the boxes, and having played several games in the past, I'm personally fairly adept at the Administration side of it also. There's little chance I'll be replaced as Clerk anytime soon, as I'm relatively new to the position, and would have plenty of time to write the necessary administration guides for it.
5. Dropbox was favored by the previous Stake President, however, he incurred a personal cost for it. Both the now-Stake President and myself hated the interface, and found that it was difficult to manage, and failed to integrate with Apple "Office," thus requiring the purchase of a Microsoft license to use Microsoft products on our tablets and PC's simultaneously.

Thus, I'm thinking Discord might be the best option? Does anyone have any input otherwise? I'm fully aware of the security issues with Discord at times (and I can build "walls" for several of those) and I'm also aware of the rules for Confidentiality (which likely wouldn't even have enough identifiers in it to tie to an individual specifically AND be able to link them to the outside world). I need to come up with a solution quickly to be able to hit the ground running, and am running myself in circles trying to figure out the best idea!
joeneuman
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Re: "One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#2

Post by joeneuman »

We use Discord for my business and it is like Slack and Zoom had a baby with superpowers.
I think Discord is a great solution.
russellhltn
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Re: "One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#3

Post by russellhltn »

bwilcox17 wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 5:20 am I professionally work as a Cybersecurity Manager for the Dept. of Defense.
Then you probably recall from annual training that Federal electronic systems must go though a Privacy Impact Assessment process, but paper-based records gets an automatic exemption. While the PIA is a requirement on the Feds, it is my impression that various privacy laws are much more strict on things stored electronically than on paper - even when it's the same information with the same intended distribution.

In a discussion with some church employees, it is predicted that at some point a member will create a legal problem for the church when they go beyond official guidance and create a system. The church, in order to save itself, isn't likely to defend the member's actions but distance itself from them. That would leave the member on their own to deal with the legal consequences. The situation would likely be life-altering in a negative way.

Bottom line, I think you should assume that you'll be personally liable for any systems you set up that are outside of church IT. Given the types of things that ward councils discuss, it's not hard to imagine that someone would get very upset if there was a breach or found out the contents. Compounding the situation, it's also possible that given free-form text fields, a leader could go beyond what is proper for church functions. I notice the number of free-form fields in church applications such as membership records are quite limited.
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BrianEdwards
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Re: "One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#4

Post by BrianEdwards »

If you were in a Bishopric I'd suggest asking the Stake President for guidance ;)

But I would encourage your Stake President to counsel with the Area Presidency. I expect the A.P. has many of the same types of communication issues, and likely have been asked this question multiple times by various Stake Presidents, and quite likely have received their own guidance from SLC. So I'd hope they can give good perspective about what constraints there might be, that shouldn't be worked around even when it greatly facilitates operations.

My expectation is that you may find yourself limited to a "degraded level of performance", even if you feel confident you could ensure required data security. But if you find some semi-official response that allows you to use 3rd-party apps like Discord, it would be great to know...
russellhltn
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Re: "One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#5

Post by russellhltn »

BrianEdwards wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 10:16 am If you were in a Bishopric I'd suggest asking the Stake President for guidance ;)

But I would encourage your Stake President to counsel with the Area Presidency.
Excellent advice.

Over the years, I've heard that due to various lawsuits, the church limits the information that it collects about members. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me but it was a major part of the change from tracking families Home Taught to Ministers Interviewed. Even if your system doesn't suffer a breach, it's presence may encourage a lawyer to subpoena the contents for a fishing expedition. Even if you wouldn't be personally liable, it could easily cost the church several times your annual donations to deal with it.
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So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.
bwilcox17
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Re: "One Stop" communications hubs for Stakes with Ward Integration

#6

Post by bwilcox17 »

Thank you all for the feedback! I anticipate most of what I will use Discord for is basic communication - file storage on plans/processes, activities, assignments, etc. Any "personal" information is not likely to be anything that's not publicly available with a Church account, and I'm not allowing just anyone into the Discord...essentially just the Stake Council.

It just so happens that we're meeting with the Area President in a couple of weeks anyways, so this will be something that I will demo for him if I have time. I'm sure I can get his approval on things. I'm obviously mindful that anything uber-confidential will remain in LCR where it should belong. This will simply function as a way to reduce unnecessary minutiae of other things to focus on the work elsewhere. Anything that I do have public, I know how to scrub/obscure in a way that becomes non-identifiable.
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