By Darlene Sprague, Resources chair
Scouting professionals and volunteers have likely seen new my.Scouting Tools appear when they log in to MyScouting.org. These new tools are based on their position in Scouting and are being constructed so everyone has access to the information they need to fulfill their responsibilities. For volunteers, this is information that was not available in the past unless they asked at their local council office.
A team made up of volunteers and professionals, including unit commissioners, administrative commissioners, members of the national commissioner support staff, and advisors, has been working since September to provide commissionerspecific input to the development manager and business analysts working on the my.Scouting Tools suite. The team members have taken all of the suggestions received since the launch of UVTS (Unit Visit Tracking System), as well as suggestions about other information that commissioners need in order to service their units, and have begun to create the Commissioner Tools.
These tools will be available sometime in the first quarter of 2014. One goal is to have a replacement tool for what is known as UVTS, but for now the development team has been able to give us some other tools. Because the Commissioner Tools are being built simultaneously with many other areas of Scouting (Membership, Advancement, Program, etc.), additional functionality will be added as these other areas are completed.
The replacement tool for UVTS will let commissioners record their contacts (visits) and other pertinent information about the units assigned to them. And yes, there will be functionality built in for one commissioner to help another commissioner enter contact information. This function will also allow for the entry of data on behalf of commissioners who may not be as comfortable with technology or who do not have ready access to a computer or other device for data input.
While the contacts will still be used for the Journey to Excellence, the main purpose of the tool is for commissioners to better serve their units in part by identifying and linking to the resources of the district and council to meet the specific needs of each unit.
The tools team has been working very closely with the team developing the new Unit Service Plan (see “The Unit Service Plan” elsewhere in this newsletter), and the updated unit assessment is being built into the tools instead of the current Quality Indicators in the UVTS system. By doing so, the team has tried to eliminate forms and steps, and in the process keep to the Commissioner Task Force theme of providing simple and unified tools to support commissioners. Commissioners can make reports on their units using these new unit assessment items, which relate largely to the unit’s health and the Journey to Excellence criteria.
The initial release of these new tools will include commissioner information and unit information available to commissioners depending on their role. The tool uses something called “natural context” to determine what information a commissioner has available for his or her use, and a commissioner’s Scouting position determines the natural context. Training information about unit leaders will be at the commissioners’ fingertips, as will a host of other information about the unit and district. Information about the contacts in the districts is being built in, so you will have it to refer to when your unit needs some additional help.
While all functionality may not be there on day one, there will eventually be the ability to send a message to unit contacts or commissioner contacts from within the system.
A PowerPoint presentation that highlights the functions included in Release 1 has been developed. It is important to note that not everything you may want will be in the tools to start, but periodically new functions and information will be available.
Remember that my.Scouting Tools is being built for all Scouters, but commissioners will have their own portion called the Commissioner Tools.
A new page will be added to the Commissioners website titled The Commissioner Tools. Watch this page for updated information on the tools.