A Great Leap Forward
A Great Leap Forward for Lodge Secretaries
In March 2011 permission in principle was granted by the Board of General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) for Lodge Secretaries to download their Lodge data from the Grand Lodge database, (ADelphi), via their Provincial1
offices, for use with The Complete Lodge Secretary computer program. The benefit of synchronisation of membership data, in particular, was recognised by Grand Lodge when granting this permission. The authors of the program, Lodge Software Ltd, were instrumental in the proposition to obtain the use of ADelphi data by Lodge Secretaries and have worked closely with Grand Lodge and a number of Provincial offices in identifying Central and Provincial needs and intentions. Over the twelve months following the permission in principle, details of the data to be transmitted together with the specific elements of process involving protocols, security and data protection were also agreed by the Grand Secretary and the Board. The latest version of The Complete Lodge Secretary computer program incorporates the ability to receive ADelphi data, downloaded from Grand Lodge via Provincial Office. MASONIC DATA Masonic Lodge member data exists at three levels: The Grand Lodge – Members’ details necessary for the management and administration of Freemasonry are held in and managed from the ADelphi database. Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges until recently have used a variety of database management systems for administration and management. They now have access to and use of the Grand Lodge ADelphi database. The only way for them to make changes to ADelphi is for ‘authorised users’ to key in the data. Private Lodges - Data held at Private Lodge level is either paper-based, stored on a range of obsolete magnetic media or on current software including word processing, databases, spreadsheets and
Blue room bespoke software. Lodge data is also held by Treasurers, Charity Stewards and other Lodge Officers and often varies from that held by the Lodge Secretary. Where more than one program is used, either by the Secretary or by other Lodge Officers, multiple entries of the ‘same’ data will occur, resulting in errors and data mismatches. An enormous amount of time is wasted in making multiple entries, aligning and updating data across different software programs, finding relevant and up-to-date information and checking and correcting errors. The centralisation and synchronisation of Lodge data can largely eliminate these problems. THE COMPLETE LODGE SECRETARY The Complete Lodge Secretary computer program is ideally positioned to address these issues for the benefit of Lodge Secretaries. It already dynamically incorporates the Book of Constitutions Rules and Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft. The features of the program include: SET-UP Ease of installation and operation Usable Grand Lodge data at day one On-line help and support throughout On-line program upgrades The latest version of the program is downloadable from the Web and within minutes installs for new users; also installs and upgrades the previous versions for existing users. After installing the program, the Lodge Secretary should ask his Provincial1 Grand Secretary for a copy of his Lodge data. Provided that the Provincial Grand Secretary has requested the download facility in ADelphi from Grand Lodge, the file will be forwarded to the Lodge Secretary. The Complete Lodge Secretary program will then locate and upload the file. The first-time The Complete Lodge Secretary user can then open the program and start using the ADelphi data as a foundation. He can cross-check and amend the data from all his other paper- and computer-based information, at his leisure. The existing user will be able to reconcile member details and update his program as appropriate with the Grand Lodge data from ADelphi. On-line help and support is always available and FAQs will be available on the website. Regular updates will be notified and upgrades can be auto-downloaded on request.
DATA MANAGEMENT Centralising and synchronising data at lodge level Single point data entry Validation of data to enhance accuracy Synchronising Lodge, Province and Grand Lodge Security of data and system The program serves as a central repository of all lodge data. Single point entry means that each name and date will only need entering once, although used in various parts of the program. This will eradicate duplication of entry and the consequent multiple versions of lodge data.
The process of comparing, adjusting or amending data (with ADelphi) will serve to verify and improve the accuracy of the information, leading to synchronisation of data. This will add to the security of the lodge data in the event of catastrophic system/data loss, as in due course Grand Lodge data will be the same and could serve as an emergency back-up. USING THE PROGRAM Easy to use graphic interface On screen access to information Annual Returns and reports Administrative guidance and references Lodge history The program consists of three rooms, ‘Members’, ‘Administration’ and ‘Lodge Work’, each containing three filing cabinets. The program is used by moving between ‘rooms’ and clicking the front of the appropriate ‘drawers’ e.g. Members’ Room – Masonic Details. The drawers contain tabbed screens containing data, information and guidance notes. Annual Returns and many other reports are available within the program. In addition, a data export to Excel® spreadsheets is included to facilitate usergenerated reports. Dynamic guidance is provided for the Secretary in the management and administration procedures with the Book of Constitutions Rules and Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft2
embodied in the program. The ready access of member and lodge historical data going back to the foundation of the lodge is often entered by users and is invaluable at significant anniversaries. BENEFITS Continuity Reduced learning curve for new Secretaries Saving time and money at every level Improved quality of data across the Craft Continuity comprises having lodge
28 The Square June 2012 management information and history fully accessible when handing over to a new Secretary, or in the event of illness or death. The lodge can also have multiple installations, perhaps for the Treasurer or Assistant Secretary. At handover, assistance is provided to ensure the new Secretary is up and running. As the program holds all membership and lodge data and the procedures are cross-referenced to the Book of Constitutions, the new Secretary’s task is straightforward and the scope of his role more readily understandable. Cost and time savings can be achieved by having a central repository for information; immediate on-screen access to Rules and Guidance; procedural information and checks for each event or ceremony, resulting in less time-wasting errors; draft agendas and letters; annual returns and reports for each circumstance; use of latest communication methods for summonses and document preparation. The synchronisation and maintenance of up-to-date information will mean less overpayment on annual returns and a better service for members. This is because contemporary notification of status changes would mean that issues relating to Initiates, Joining members, deceased members, cessation and resignations could be dealt with at lodge, Provincial Grand Lodge or Grand
Lodge level in the most expeditious manner. This hopefully will open the door to the possibility of electronic communication of some of the forms (an area specifically mentioned in the Grand Secretary’s address at the Quarterly Communication in September 2011). Working with ADelphi data The Complete Lodge Secretary first checks that the same member’s details are being compared. Once reconciled, the ADelphi data is presented on screen, side by side with the existing data in The Complete Lodge Secretary program. Any variances between the two sets of data are highlighted with red text. When the Lodge Secretary has selected the correct data by a single mouse click on the text box, the box selected is highlighted with yellow shading. When the Lodge Secretary is happy that all of a member’s
A Great Leap Forward data is correct, he can confirm the new data set that will then be saved into The Complete Lodge Secretary program database and he can move on to amend the next member’s information. The revised data set will be forwarded to Provincial Office to input any ratified changes into ADelphi. After two or three iterations of the total process, there will be synchronicity between the ‘three levels of data’. The Complete Lodge Secretary program will prompt the Lodge Secretary to notify the Provincial Office of all changes in the status of members as they occur (at the time and in the manner described within the Rules of the Book of Constitutions). With this level of synchronicity, at the time of Annual Returns the differences between the data held in The Complete Lodge Secretary program and ADelphi should only relate to changes occurring since the last ‘notification’ rather than since the last Annual Return. Footnotes 1 Provincial includes Metropolitan and Provincial 2 Extracts from the Book of Constitutions are reproduced by kind permission of the Board of General Purposes of the United Grand Lodge of England. The manner in which they are applied is the sole responsibility of Lodge Software Ltd.
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