Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mastering OALM

Nentico Lodge is transitioning to a new membership database. In the process of centralizing the storage, we're distributing the data integrity responsibility. It's going to be an interesting next few months. Chesapeake Chapter will be first out of the gate as we have the earliest Ordeal in calendar year 2010. Here are a few comments from my perspective - non-authoritative, unofficial, and maybe helpful.

First, a process flow chart. I came up with this after working on the volume test in early December. It's broken into 2 main areas - Unit Elections, then Chapter Ordeals. The reason for this should be obvious, though the data hand-offs from unit to chapter, and from chapter to chapter, will need to be tested to see how it works.

The "In" circles are where someone will be entering data, either the Chapter Adviser or their designee. Likewise, the "Out" circles represent data reports, on-screen, on paper, or to various media formats. As an example, reports back to Scoutmasters on those elected can help find spelling mistakes or other inaccuracies. I've left out validation of BSA ID numbers for simplicity, but that needs to happen somehow.

The second page, the Ordeal process, looks more complex, but will probably be simpler in practice. The bigger adjustment at the Ordeal will likely be managing the transition from the "old way" to the "new way." I've seen challenges with pre-registration, especially when the forms don't make it to the Ordeal site on time. With a central database, this can be avoided with the up-to-the-minute synchronization process.

The trick to simplifying check-in will be to have as many of those elected on the records as possible. Given that April's Ordeal could include elections as far back as late April or early May 2009, it would not surprise me if someone showed up whose data was not online yet. We'll need a way to make sure they are recorded and the elections are checked.

Here is one screen shot of menus I saw during a test phase:

A few things to note about this:

  • Someone has to set up events if I can't access "Event Manager". For best results long term, we should agree on a format so they can be more easily found.
  • Membership Manager needs some practice, and also some rules around capitalization, abbreviations, etc.
  • Chapter Reports are useful. Once we're back online I'll highlight a few I found. I should have taken screen shots before, so there you go...
  • Unit Contact Manager sounds like an address book, but it seems to be more of a calendar showing who was contacted when. It's probably useful for tracking many elections, though it will take some time to become familiar with it.
  • There are exception reports, including a nice one that can do partial name matching to search for duplicates or typos.
  • I think Service Hours can also be used for meeting attendance. Again, once we're online I will try this at a Chapter meeting to wok out the kinks.

We talked about whether this tool can help the Extended Elangomat program. I believe it can, based on the reporting and organization logic. I hope so.

Lastly, this cryptic pop up:

The answer is not always one or the other. It depends what you want to do. So read, understand, then choose.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Eagle Court of Honor - Henry Sentz

Tonight, after spending a day at Scout Camp, I was privileged to assist at the Eagle Court of Honor for one of Troop 350's Scouts. After years of work, Henry met all of the requirements, with weeks to spare before his 18th birthday.

In this photo, Eagle Scout Lou Maggio Jr is leading the Eagle Charge and pledge.