Conference Record Management Presentation Summary
(posted: September 17, 2016)
The purpose of the presentation was to highlight the importance of using some type of computer application to assist with record keeping for conferences, councils. Included were three specific applications which fellow SSVP members are using in their conferences. Those present were asked to take these ideas back to their conferences and see if any of these would work for them. They were also encouraged to look for any other possible solutions if they wanted to.
The session was well attended with members across the province represented. Also members from various sizes of conferences were there.
The first presenter was Deacon John Girolami: (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
He discussed the challenges that proper record keeping involves. The use of computerized record keeping can minimize the complexity of the task. By automating, information can be found more easily and more quickly. Information can also be shared. Access would not be restricted to a physical location, office or file cabinet. Most good systems help the members to track visit information for those we help including who, when, where, how much aid we gave and if any follow up is needed.
Record keeping could also include donations to the organization and applications could produce tax receipts. Good systems also allow SSVP members to share information about those we help in a secure manner. Information about volunteers can also be included in the system.
The use of the Internet today using “Cloud” computing is one of the best methods to achieve good records management. This is a low cost and secure method. All the solutions presented in the workshop use the internet to access and share the information.
An important factor that we all need to overcome is that making changes to how we do things is hard. Old habits die hard, not just in using computers, but it is also seen in trying to eat right and even establishing a proper exercise routine.
Recruiting of younger members who are comfortable with technology in their day to day activities will help. Many experienced members who have learned how to use technology would be a great asset as well. All software tools should be looked at including Facebook, Twitter, email instant messenger and other solutions.
Electronic records management systems are computer programs designed to track and store and retrieve information. The data is secure and a backup copy can be easily made on a regular basis. Access can be secured to the proper individuals. Reporting of information can be made with various reporting tools where the individual can select reporting periods. These reports can be shared with all levels including the Ontario and National regional councils.
The physical space needed to store records can be reduced as well. The information can be sorted by various key components like date, geographic and family type. Information can be more easily protected from fire and theft.
All of this allows the volunteer to focus on serving the needs of the poor by not needing to generate manual reports.
The result of all this is that your conference can give improved quality of care to those seeking assistance in both short term and in helping combat systemic poverty.
It was also shown that accepting use of new technology has been a challenge for everyone even hundreds of years ago. A brief video showing the challenges a monk had converting from using a scroll to read information to being introduced to a “book” for the first time. We found that things have not changed all that much.
Software Solutions Presented
Software Solution presented by John Ketelaars: (email: email@example.com)
One solution was presented by John Ketelaars from the London conference. Another system used by Sue Armitage from the Peterborough conference was also shown. Reg Harford showed how his conference used another software solution to share spreadsheets, word documents and manuals.
John presented a system he developed which he calls the “Saint Vincent de Paul Online Client Tracker System”. His system has different features available based on the type of user you are. The Administrator level allows setting up of security levels for users and sets up new users. Backups can also be taken. The standard level user can update information about those we help directly.
One very good feature is the use of a sample web site. This is where one would learn how to use the system. A set of sample entries are preloaded and the user can add or change information to see how the system works. Once you sign off the information is reset and the changes are lost.
Once you are comfortable you can access the system as a standard user where most features are available to you. The changes made to the information are saved.
Information is accessed by using drop down menus. The client list allows access to information for those we visit. Information includes name, address, date last visited, phone number, number of adults, number of children with age ranges. A section to enter last visit information is there as well. Information on food vouchers, gift cards with notes explaining the action can be entered and viewed. Also, notes about the family in general can be entered and viewed.
The program includes a statistics or reporting function. Summary screen information and reporting by date range is also available. You can also search the information based on specific search words you define and a date range. You can also report on those who have been seen repeatedly by running a query on the information.
Software Solution presented by Sue Armitage:
Another solution being used by Sue Armitage’s conference was shown. Her software uses a web service for which a conference pays a monthly access fee. The cost is around 10 dollars per month. The software allows similar features to the software listed above. Access is restricted to just your conference’s data. Access is through the internet and a user code and password is needed.
Members can set up and access detailed information as to who they visit, information about the family, help that was given. Reporting for the conference is also there.
Software Solution presented by Reg Harford: (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reg’s presentation showed how his conference uses a Web service called “DropBox”. It allows users to send documents, spreadsheets and manuals to be stored on the system through Dropbox. These documents and spreadsheets can be accessed by various members who have a user id and password. The object can only be opened by one user at a time. If another user tries to get the information while someone is using it they will be told that they cannot modify the information. Once a user changes the information and saves it, the object is updated in Dropbox and it is unlocked so that another person can use it.
All of these solutions allow a conference to use computer systems using the internet to help record and report on help we are providing to those in need. We encourage all conference presidents to consider using a conference record management system. It will help you to better serve the poor.
Conference Record Management Presentation Summary