Author Topic: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?  (Read 2960 times)

Rick Leffler

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I received the following email from a club Commander.  I do have some suggestions myself and I'll chime in later, but I imagine there are many clubs in a similar situation and I would like to solict input from those of you who have had success using software (any software that is, even if it is not the AWdb) to streamline your recordkeeping and become more efficient.   How have you solved these problems?  Are you truly more efficient and able to do more because you're using software?  Please share your ideas!

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Dear Rick,

I do like the software and would really like to continue using it, but am at a loss as to how to do so during the Awana night. I have brought my laptop on Awana night (we have the program on a flash drive) and have encouraged the secretary to enter the data "live" but without much success. Our sparks meet in another building as do our Cubbies. Games are done in yet another building so they have to travel from one place to another.  So the kids are spread out. Thus, the leaders are having to "write" down the sections completed and manually come up with the awards. When the secretary finally gets this data, we are going into our closing ceremony.

I do have a secretary for each club (I started this last year because my overall club secretary was out for most of the year due to multiple hip and back surgeries.) These other club secretaries are not interested in doing computer entries as they are running around trying to keep the kids on track and also listening to sections when needed. As you can see, my situation is multi-faceted.

If you have any suggestions please advise.
Thanks
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Rick at Leffler Systems
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Mainah

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2009, 12:14:37 PM »
I'm not the one to be able to answer how to use the software better during the club night, but I can describe how the software helps us over all even though it isn't heavily used by all secretaries during club night.

Our club registered 164 kids this year.  We ended with an active registration of 137.  We had an average attendance of 98.  Our staff numbered 44, with an average attendance of 37.  I only have these numbers because the software gives them so easily.

I am the office director, and we have three secretaries, one for each club level. 

We have a single user license.  I am basically the only one that uses the software.  I access it at church on club night on the Awana computer.  There it is mostly for reference, however,  I do enter a few incidental details mostly having to do with money...payments for books and uniforms and Adopt A Club money that has to be credited to a clubber account. 

In the mean time, the secretaries have a manual method of tracking everything...dues, uniforms, attendance, books, Bibles, and sections completed.  Each clubber is assigned a card stock half sheet for every book they work on in a year.  These cards track everything that needs to be tracked on a weekly basis.  They go out to the leaders at handbook time, and get turned in to the secretaries at the end of handbook time. 

Our night is divided in threes, so Sparks HB time is first, T&T second, and Group time is last.  This gives each secretary  plenty of time to look at the cards and pull awards for the night.  The name of the clubber and the award are written on an envelope as the cards are coming in.  By the end of the night the secretary has a pile of stuffed envelopes to give to the commander to hand out.

The secretaries alphabetize the Clubber Cards and hand them in to me.  I throw them all in my big LLBean tote, and take them all home.  The next day accessing the software on my home computer, I enter in all the data collected on the cards.  I like it this way.  The night is too quick and busy to accurately enter all data on the spot.  We also don't have the desire to buy multiple licenses in order to share out the work.  Also, there is too much of a learning curve with new secretaries each year, :(  , and then subs.
Diane
Saved at Awana in 1975!
Office Director
Cornerstone Baptist Awana Club
Maine

bgoodaz

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 03:03:30 PM »
We handle it a little differently. We had 307 registered, 285 Active, 220 average every week. So with bigger numbers comes other issues. We do not give awards the same night as club, we opt for the teaching the delayed gratification philosophy. Awards are given the next club night.

Check-in sheets are printed out for each Table Leader so they have the information for each of their assigned clubbers (4-6ea). They are grouped by each team room and go out and come back as a set. Attendance, etc and  Section completions are written on the sheets and returned. We take the sheets to the main scanner in the church office and scan them in as club sets. We have a secretary per club and each has access to sign in to the church network and view/download the sheets at home and do data entry for their own club. The sets could be given out to take home but then the information is isolated. Each secretary announces by email when they are done and advises of any issues to be corrected.

After all the clubs are done with data entry the main secretary or commander runs the award reports and we utilize the feature to print quad line spacing and cut these sheets to strips and attach the award to the strips. We then have a team of ladies, mostly retired, that come in on club prep day and pull all the awards and organize them for the director to hand out on club night.

The lack of interest in data entry might be an issue of recruiting volunteers that enjoy this aspect and see the benefit. 
Bart Good
Awana Database Administrator
Scottsdale Bible Church

tholgate

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2009, 02:03:06 PM »
We have approximately the same numbers as Diane this past year and are processing the same way.  I am going to try and at least do check-in live on the computers this year (we did purchase 3 licenses) and see how it goes. It does seem that there is way too much activity and issues that come up on Club night to effectively data enter while at Club.  We'll have to see how it goes this year! Or recruit more data entry loving people!
Tina Holgate
Program Coordinator
Eastern Hills Bible Church
Manlius, NY

LezlieDen

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2009, 08:38:00 PM »
We're a bit smaller - 65 at most - but this is what we tried last year.  I printed out sign in sheets which the LITs use to sign in the clubbers.  I have my laptop set up in a storage room (really) and I try to keep the door closed when working on data entry. I usually have 1 person helping me by reading while I type.

We have a record sheet for each clubber with their specific handbook sections on it.  I give the sheets to the leaders at the beginning of the night.  As they sign off sections, they mark it on these sheets.  At the end of handbook time, they bring me their sheets.

We have 3 time slots. During the 1st slot, I enter the attendance info.  During the 2nd slot, I enter the Cubbies and Sparks handbook sections and put their awards into a basket. During the 3rd slot, I enter the T & T data, pull together their awards, and hand it all to the Commander.  We do the awards at the very end of the night.

I think this will work for maybe 125 - 150 clubbers, but I think after that, there wouldn't be enough time to finish by the end of the night.

Lezlie Densmore
South Hadley, MA

chris h

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2009, 08:39:07 PM »
I am not an experienced data base user but I'm very interested in how other clubs use the system.  I am in the trial stage but will be purchasing the system for use this September.  Our total club is about 100 kids, but I'm starting just with T&T until I get familiar with the system and can find and teach another user.  The reason our club is purchasing this system is to reduce the amount of paperwork our leaders have to complete and free them up to spend most of their time with the kids.  My ultimate goal would be to create a paperless process.  I like the idea of having the kids report to me (club secretary and data entry person) with their handbooks.  I think with about 50 T&T kids this should work.  All I would have to do is print a report showing the awards the kids are to receive by leader and that would be the only paper we'd need.  I still have to meet with our commander about the new procedures, but  I would be very disappointed if we don't get a streamlined system out of this.

I'm going to keep checking for any new approaches that are suggested here.  Thanks to everyone who has posted their ideas so far.   

tapper1

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2009, 05:06:50 PM »
We got to a point last year where we could do T  & T paperless (actually a summary report fired to a wireless printer and a mobile awards bin travels to the closing program area). 

This fall we would like to try Sparks and T & T paperless, but we are also adding a Cubbies and PUggles club so are unsure of logistics.  We currently have one license and one main user, many people feeding the record cards throughout the night to meet the awards deadline.  There seems to be value in distrubuting awards on the club night they are earned.  We hava a club size of about 80 clubbers ( T & T and Sparks). 
Terry Printz
Commander
Christ Community Church
Zion Il

KMRUMMAGE

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2009, 01:51:15 AM »
We started out small with only myself as the main secretary doing all of the data input for all three clubs, Cubbies, Sparks, T&T.   This was when we had about 80 clubbers total.  The leaders filled out the check-in sheets manually and then turned them to me and I processed them during the week, and then printed out award lists and awarded kids the next week.  Needless to say I was tired at the end of the year, but I felt that the database had good integrity because I was the only one on the database.  However, it was too much work for a mother of three boys! 

So last year (our second year) I branched out a little bit.  I trained two secretaries on data entry.  The sparks group had book time first, so the person entered the data written down by the leaders on check in sheets during the second and third parts of club.  I had a separate awards secretary for sparks who pulled the awards from the sections said the previous week and worked on the awards issues. T&T was still entered during the week. 

This year we have switched the t&T book time to the first part of club.  A data entry person will enter T&T during the second and third parts of club and we now have an awards secretary for T&T as well.  We had an average of 130 kids a week last year, so it really helped me to have more people working on the database.  Our Cubbies group is relatively small so I am entering that information because it's very quick  We are also very spread out in our facilities and basically need to have a laptop in the Sparks area and a laptop in the T&T area.  Luckily people have laptops that they are willing to bring and use during the 1.5 hours of club and we us the check in and check out feature with flash drives. 

This year my goal as the overall AWANA secretary is to maintain the database overall and print out the check in sheets and the awards list, but I am really trying to enable the secretaries to do their jobs really well, and decrease my "extra" time during the week.  I really recommend doing this transition from paper to computer in steps, so that your leaders can absorb the changes slowly and incrementally.  Hope this helps.

Glenn-O

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Re: To experienced database users... what approach would you recommend?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2009, 10:41:58 PM »
I'm working on the assumption that each T&T and Sparks would have access to a laptop.  The club secretaries need to realize that taking the time to enter data at the "point of sale" can help them to get awards later in club much, much easier.

Print out the Check In/Progress Report for each handbook group prior to club with up to date information. 
Check out the data to the clubs (extra license needed here) and give the thumb drive along with the printed reports to each club secretary.
As the clubbers do sections, their leader records them on the reports.
At the end of handbook time, the secretary gets the reports back and enters the data when the clubbers are in games or large group time.  For about 30-40 kids, this can take about 10 minutes or less, especially if you are familiar with the program.  They should allow other leaders to be leaders and for them to fulfill their secretarial duties!
Awards are noted during entry and collected when the data entry is finished.  Another method would be to preview the Awards report for your club for that night at the end.
At the end of the night, paper and thumb drives are turned back in to the database owner. 
Paper reports are kept for about 3 weeks and then discarded.  I recommend this step!!!!

My $0.02

Glenn-O