New releases!  Seven guardrails to help you keep your data safe.

Posted by Boyd Pelley on 6/7/22 2:45 PM
Boyd Pelley
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GuardrailsOver time data has a tendency to drift off the road and even crash.  The application itself might be fine, but the data is a wreck. When this happens, those depending on it no longer trust it, and start looking for something new.  

One popular solution is to put a sentry at the gate of the database.  This person is responsible for all data entry, reports, and maintenance.  This solution helps keep data safe, but it also creates a bottleneck on use of the data.  Like an accident on a 4 lane highway narrowing traffic down to one lane, church staff end up looking for detours to get their work done.  Pretty soon the staff has data in so many locations they find themselves once again lacking trust in the core data.

We've felt for a long time that the database itself could become a decentralized sentry.  We built reminder emails (groups, volunteers, payments) to make sure data is consistently collected.  We built scheduled reports to automate communication of information.  

We've also started building guardrails designed to keep data from getting wrecked.  In fact, we've released seven of these in the past couple of months.  Here they are along with a few other new releases.

  1. Guardrail for Text-to-Church registrations
  2. Guardrail for merging members OR families
  3. Member listing by household gives lots more options
  4. Guardrail for using mission fundraising setting
  5. Guardrail for deleting a custom attribute
  6. Guardrail for transferring people between groups
  7. Guardrail for changes to pledge registration
  8. Legal first name, birth date, and deceased date are no longer customizable
  9. Guardrail for merge validation based on gender
  10. Mass update member multi-select attributes capability expanded

1.  Guardrail for Text-to-Church registrations

One problem with Text-to-Church registrations is people using their phone to register someone other than themselves (family member or friend).  When they click on the registration link, the system recognizes their number and pre-fills the form with their information.  If they change the information in the form to someone else's information,  the system inadvertantly wrecks the data.  Now, when this happens the registrant will get this warning pop-up with a link to a new form to complete for the friend or family member.


If the form allows registration of multiple people, this pop-up appears.


2.  Guardrail for merging members OR families

To help distinguish the need to merge one person (member) with multiple entries from two different people who need to be merged into one family, we separated the Merge Member from the Merge Family page.  The blue, information box gives more details. 


When a merge is completed, the system logs a note on the person's profile with details about the merge including the person who performed it.

3. Member listing by household gives lots more options

The Family Directory report (Reports > Members > Family Directory) was designed to be a directory with demographic information.  This new option under Reports > Members > Member Listing allows you to customize the data you see but is organized by families.  This is helpful for families with multiple different last names especially.


4. Guardrail for using Mission Fundraising

After numerous support issues with people incorrectly using or just having questions about our Fundraising option for registrations we made a couple of changes. 
The title changed from "Fundraising Event Contribution Fund" to "Missions Fundraising".  

There is a new popup after you pick a fund from the dropdown that explains further. 


5. Guardrail for deleting a custom attribute

To help make sure that you want to delete a custom attribute we added a pop up that clarifies for you what is about to happen and the number of individual records that will be affected. 


6.  Guardrail for transferring people between groups

To make sure that someone doesn't mistakenly move peope from one group to another, we added language to identify exactly what is about to happen.  Specifically, how many people are moving from on group to another and the names of both groups.  In addition you can now customize the group join date which you could not do before. 

7. Guardrail for changes to pledge registration

The Member & Family pledge entry screens now will calculate the Total Pledge Amount based on (1) campaign, (2) frequency and (3) amount that is entered.  It will only use the default date range for the campaign in the calculations.  If one of these 3 fields is changed, and the recalculated amount is different from what is in the total amount field, there will be a popup asking if we should update the Total Amount Pledged.  If the date range is adjusted, you will need to manually change the Total Amount. 
Example: $100 x 36 months = $3,600 
The amount is changed to $75 and this pop up appears.  $75 x 36 = $2,700.
This update applies to pledge registrations as well as manual changes by staff.

8.  Legal first name, birth date, and deceased date are no longer customizable.

We have added important relational connections between Legal First Name, Birth Date, and Deceased date to other functions in the software.  To help maintain the integrity of these features those attributes are no longer removable or customizable.  Email lists were previously set up this way.
No red x to remove.
fixed deceased and birth
Can't edit, grayed out.

9. Guardrails for merge validation based on gender

Intending to put a husband and wife into the same family and doing it on the member merge page rather than the family merge page is a fairly common mistake.  It will mess up data by merging everything to one individual.  We added some logic to help avoid this.

All the member "possible duplicate" reports will now use gender in its match logic.  Genders must match to be identified as a potential duplicate. 
"Merge from" options are available on the family household page, from the member search page (Members > Member > Search), and from the merge search page (Members > Member > Merge).  If merges are initiated from any of these that do not meet the gender criteria, this pop-up appears.  Note that it redirects it to the household merge page!

Both member IDs are included in the system log details to help with clean up in case this mistake is made.

10. Mass update member attributes capability expanded
You can mass update a member attribute from three places:  1) within a group by selecting people then mass updating under the Action button, 2) Reports > Members > Mass update member attribute, and 3) workflow option to update information.  Here are the four options you now have for multi-select dropdown attributes.  This feature is especially helpful for setting up and maintaining email lists.  

Tags: Church Management Software, New Release

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