Christmas is coming!
Be prepared for the Christmas effort.
by Ron Fenrich, Captain –
Through the years, I’ve become known as a “Techno Guru.” I like working with computers. I like being able to help others use these tools effectively, especially to present God’s message. A wonderful resource that allows me to stay current in my computer abilities is our Western Territory Information Technology (IT) Department, staffed by individuals who come together to serve the field. Their expertise in building systems allows us to more effectively communicate and to process information and data quickly, giving us the ability to do our business in the 21st century.
With Christmas coming up, I’d like to bring to your attention two applications that I would not want to be without:
Kettle worker application
This fairly well known program has been around for many years. Today it is a resource that gives the corps officer “real time” data to effectively evaluate kettle locations and personnel.
The application provides a variety of methods for collecting our kettles, counting the donations, and recording the data. “Kettle Worker,” however, is more than just a record keeping database. It is an evaluation tool that helps the corps officer and the staff to see the success of their kettle program by providing reports in a variety of formats.
For me, there is no better way to quickly see the trends of previous years’ locations and personnel, so I can plan for the upcoming campaign. During the season, I can daily determine if the personnel I have placed in my best locations are doing well in their duties.
Beyond these time saving and analysis functions, the application helps with payroll. Entering the data into the program just once allows for payroll to be submitted to the Finance Department with just the push of a button, literally. You press the button, and the program does the rest—providing the officer with more time to focus on “others.”
Starting with the 2008 Christmas season, IT released a module called “Christmas Assistance” that works with the current Social Service Database to allow for easy entry of Client Intake during our busiest time of year.
The Christmas programs can be customized to meet the needs of any unit. With its three components: Adopt-A-Family, Giving Tree, and Toy and Joy (General Distribution), the Christmas Assistance module provides the flexibility to enter, track, and maintain intake information in a variety of ways.
This module can also be a tool for the community’s “Christmas Clearing.” Outside agencies can log in to the system and enter data for the clients they will be serving. If an individual is entered whom another agency has already agreed to assist, the system will alert the user that the client is already receiving help. This helps to prevent duplication of services, and allows more families to be served.
One feature of the Christmas Assistance reporting utility is the ability to export records, which really does make our job easier. For example, you can export a list of children in the Giving Tree program, and then use that list to merge the data directly to your Giving Tree tags. This simple feature will save your staff several hours of time, compared to the labor-intensive method of handwriting or applying labels to the tags.
The Kettle Worker and Christmas Assistance applications provide more than data collection—they are powerful tools to help us accomplish our jobs faster and more efficiently.
Christmas is easily the busiest time of year for corps officers. Anything that will allow a corps officer to streamline information, save time and effort on necessary tasks, troubleshoot kettle locations, track the effectiveness of seasonal employees, and prevent duplication of services is something we should use to our full advantage! Our Territorial IT Department has created these programs with the field in mind, and with the desire to help us maximize our effectiveness during such a demanding season.