Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's been a quiet year

Haven't blogged much, but I've been about as busy as I can ever remember, which is probably why I haven't blogged much. I took a couple of weeks off at the end of December and came back to an absolute storm of work. One of my key volunteers was also critically injured in a car accident, and her husband was killed, so I've been squeezing in time to visit her in the hospital as well. Thankfully, she is doing quite a bit better this week, so that's a huge answer to prayer.

Today Daniel and I met to discuss the project priority for 2010 and beyond. With a project as large as Arena, there are many things that we simply haven't had time to deal with. So we spent a few hours today looking them over, discussing the issues involved, and prioritizing them. Here's where we landed, in order:

Backups - The server is backed up. The database is backed up. Many user machines are backed up. A few miscellaneous odds and ends are not backed up. We need to make that "many" into an "all" and tag all of those other random things that need to be included. This is first priority. Nobody cares until their hard drive dies...

Point of Sale - Our POS solution for our coffee shop is simply, well, a piece of ... uh ... crap? It is very fragile, and quite slow. It is time to replace it, and it gets our first priority once we have backups nailed on everything else.

Arena Training Videos - Odd that this is so high on the list, but it takes a good hour to hour and a half to get an employee totally up to speed on Arena. On one hand, that's awesome because it's such a complex product and they can be using it in such a short time. On the other hand, every new employee takes 1-2 hours of one on one training. If we can show the standard stuff in a video, we can make the training process a matter of making sure they know how to login and answer any questions they have.

Event Registration - This will save us money, simplify our operation, improve the information available through the members portal, and give us better record keeping within Arena (we will have a better idea of what people came to etc.). No surprise this is the highest arena priority after the one that simply gives us more time to work on this kind of thing...

MyPortal - We have toyed with the better members portal tools introduced by Arena this past summer, but we haven't gone live with them. It's time we revamped our members site to utilize this.

Asterisk + Arena Integration - We need to update our phone system to the latest version for a number of reasons, among them better fax support and better call detail recording and recordkeeping. Along with this we want to complete integration with Arena for call histories, click to dial, and a few other little things.

Metrics + ERA + Peers - These can all be summed up by the category Data Mining. Each of these items are automated processes that mine our data for important information. We are currently using Peers, we went live with it, but we really need to spend a lot more time and pay a lot more attention to the relationships and values we assign to them in order to get the most out of this.

Intranet - Not really a primary purpose for Arena, but one we need to use anyway. We want to put the policy manuals, every form the church uses etc. into Arena so that people can find them. The larger the organization gets, the more common it is to have no idea what other departments are doing. Rather than start from scratch with a volunteer application, why not look at the twelve other departments have created and use one of those, or maybe modify the one closest to what you need...

Timekeeper - Just because we had extra time on our hands (NOT!) we implemented a computerized time clock at the beginning of 2009 simultaneously with Arena. This needs a little bit of TLC, and we will consider making it an Arena module if we implement the HR module...

Facility Calendar - We use our own, home grown, facility management software. It's awesome because it controls all of our building automation. But it's also old, and slow, and really needs a ground up rewrite for version 2.0. Do we rewrite it, or do we buy something off the shelf, or do we make an Arena module out of the whole thing? When we get to this, we'll figure out the answers to these questions...

Human Resources - There is a community module out there for HR. We need to get it running, test it, and implement the parts we need at HDC. If we decide to make Timekeeper an Arena module, this will move up ahead of it.

Planning Center Integration - This is a very big deal to me because our church uses planning center extensively. Unfortunately when I look at the development priorities around here, it has to wait until the higher priority items are done. We want to avoid data fractioning by keeping Arena as the primary source of all contact information. Likewise, I'd like to be able to import the serving activity that Planning Center tracks.

MapPoint Integration - MapPoint has features that allow it to work with the geolocation data in your SQL Server database. Awesome! Unfortunately we haven't had time to get it all working, and based on where this ranked, it will be a while.

Network Maintenance - There are lots of little things we need to do, and together they make a pretty big project. But for now, it's working so we'll leave it alone :-)

There are a myriad of smaller projects, but this finally let us set out a priority schedule for the longer projects and give us the ability to have a good answer when someone asks when these things will be done.