mrrad wrote:What I'm really trying to understand is this: Is it common for Bishops and Stake Presidents to ask for reports or other documents which are very difficult to produce using the software provided by the church?
In my experience, yes. Here are some examples that my stake president has asked for:
- A spreadsheet that shows the budget allocations, expenses, and balances for each ward in the stake. This data exists in the Consolidated Financial Statement, but it's on separate pages and so it's very difficult using only the CFS to compare how the wards are doing.
- A spreadsheet that shows fast offering income and expenses by ward, with associated graphs. These graphs help him compare at a glance how the wards are collecting and using fast offering funds. Again, the CFS provides this data, but it's on separate sheets for each ward. You would have to flip through many pages to see this for all the wards, and even at that, the graphs each have different scales, so it's impractical to compare them. Once I have the data entered each month, I can show the various tables and graphs to the stake president.
- A mailing to all the missionaries serving from our stake. This requires keeping the address list spreadsheet current (mostly mission offices, but even those change as offices move or missions are split or merged, and of course missionaries are called and released all the time). We then do a mail merge into a document using the address list as a data source.
There are others, but this gives you some examples.
mrrad wrote:If the answer is yes, then it seems that the church should step up and fix this, either adding certain functions to MLS or gladly providing Microsoft Office.
I could imagine the Church providing a report for my first example without too much difficulty, but the other two would be very challenging.
I doubt that any of my examples would be very difficult for an experienced user of LibreOffice, but I tried one of them in OpenOffice a couple of years ago and got very frustrated that many of the steps were different from MS Office that I was used to. I didn't have time to waste, so I just did it in MS Office, which I am experienced with.
Since it is impractical to add many of the needed functions to MLS, an office suite is a great tool for accomplishing much of this work. It could be LibreOffice or MS Office, depending on the stake president's judgment of cost versus time for the particular tasks and people involved.
mrrad wrote:Or, are these special documents demanded by the Stake and Ward leadership simply a lot of busywork which adds a lot of burden to the clerks without really providing much benefit?
At least for the three examples I gave, these are very important documents requested ("demanded" is such a harsh word, and it doesn't fit the way my stake president operates) by my stake president. They are used every month and further the work of the ministry.
mrrad wrote:That is something I care greatly about... the burdens we place on our volunteer staff which, perhaps, are not necessary. Meanwhile, I think the people who develop MLS are paid staff.
I care about the burdens placed on both categories of people. The MLS developers are a limited resource, and I prefer that they work on things that will help meet the goals of that product, which includes providing information to Church systems for the benefit of both local and general leaders. And as a person with a calling that depends on those systems, I of course appreciate anything that lessens my burden. But I don't particularly care whether I get a particular task done in MLS or some other tool -- I'll choose the tool that is most effective for the task at hand.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.