Volunteer Development Team - New Cadet Portal


#211

Given that our wing recently introduced centrally controlled screens to every squadron that displays all the upcoming wing events/activities, I think this could work well in tandem. On wall of the building is that screen, on the opposite we put an array of clipboards with forms for them to sign up to. Bit long winded and paper heavy. Plus their handwriting…

I can see us getting a (cheap!) tablet on a stand somewhere nearby and letting cadets use that during break to sign up to the events they like the sound of.


#212

Prevented by actively informing cadets on parade nights who is elligable for what activity presently on the noticeboard.
This new system means we won’t know who has signed up without constantly checking each sms activity register.
What would solve this is a MUCH better dashboard overview in SMS.

What I think is really excellent is the ability to upload Sqn files.
Could it be thought about having a Squadron page is like a home page which cadets would go to first. Each sqn could edit this homepage in a limited fashion.

This would almost do away with the need for a separate website except for external advertisement only.


#213

Also… Just because a cadet or parent wants to do the activity doesn’t mean it can happen!
Some Sqns are better staffed than others and to be honest some wings are just rubbish at delivering courses centrally to help out.

What do I say then… drive 40 miles to X Sqn because they are in X wing which is better…

And please don’t come on now about recruit more staff. We ALL know that’s easy to say and difficult to achieve.
Especially now under the brand new security check rules.


#214

it is good that you realise the potential pitfalls, but do they outweigh the benefits? Will a small amendment in how a squadron (or the system) operates mitigate it satisfactorily?

Let us now wait to see the system in action before assuming that things will fail in a particular way.


#215

Agreed. I think it looks spot on and I also wonder if there is some use for something similar for adult staff; particularly the events element for booking onto courses etc. As for the shooting portal but all centralised and covering all disciplines.


#216

It is called SMS!


#217

Not for booking on events etc, which was kind of my point…


#218

Yes, for booking onto events in the current model that assumes you need to be invited to the event in the first place. You just need to communicate separately with the organisers to get that invitation.

A change to a staff free-for-all will have many implications and is not, I suggest, an easy fix. I foresee questions of authorisation, control, prioritisation, approval of VA/travel, management of drop-outs etc.

I suspect it would require a deeper re-working of the SMS activities system and I am not sure how far the next version will go in supporting it.


#219

Surely all of those questions apply to cadets as much as staff (VA & Travel excepted)?


#220

We manage our cadets in a different way than we manage staff.
Cadets are offered opportunities in a more organised way (and generally in greater numbers), while staff are more likely to hunt around a bit more for courses.

There is clearly some cross-over and for the bulk of activities I suspect the one solution will fit for both staff and cadets, but we can operate workarounds for the more esoteric opportunities in much the same way as we do currently until that system is re-invented and shaped to fit better to SMS.

To be truthful, it would help a lot if region and corps activities used the present system correctly for activities that they run now: actually generate an activity in the first place, approve it, populate it, then complete and file it when it is done. The rules may need to be massaged to make more sense or allow more flexibility for many activities as we are essentially trying to shoehorn a Corps activity into a process that was designed to allow wings to scrutinise squadrons.


#224

I think that the sensible approach would be to have a separate category for staff courses, where a unit invitation is not required.


#228

I am not sure how that would manifest. On the current model it would be done as a global invitation and that will quickly lose everything in the chaff. We would need a mechanism for these courses not to show up in lists but to be available to any interested party if they go searching. At the other side, course providers need a means by which to open up a course (or not) to specific groups of people (by type, by area or whatever)

I don’t see it happening any time soon, but might be something that can go on the list for future development time. Not a high priority one either.


#229

Exactly - hence my third-way suggestion.

Activities of that sort would be available to all units, but not show up on the general ‘activities’ page, but rather on an additional list of staff courses.


#230

My Wing uses a Sharepoint based system for booking yourself/other staff/cadets on to courses or to add yourself to a waiting list for said courses. Works pretty well.


#231

I still fear that there would be so many courses as to make it messy.


#232

I don’t think it’d be a huge problem, as long as filters are available. You’d only go on to that page if you were looking for a staff course.


#233

Hello Acc’ers,

@james_elliott is currently taking care of some very important non-RAFAC life stuff , so while he’s out of pocket i’m going to be filling his boots. I’m one of the other members of the volunteer dev. team, with my main RAFAC role being OC 5 SATT. Until the beginning of this year I was OC of a large squadron in Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wing.

Firstly, thanks for all of your replies to our post showing off the video of where Cadet Portal (CP) was as of last Thursday; there are a lot of good observations, which I’ll try to address.

@Paracetamol - We don’t think it is quite so clear cut as that. In our most recent review, we think that a cadet should be able to change their alias/known as, as well as contact details (email, phone etc.) and occupation details without approval - this will help keep things up to date, and reduce burden on the volunteer keeping things up to date.

@themajor - Almost right :slight_smile: - Our MVP constitution did contain the ability to update some info - we decided that the above was not too controversial

Maybe - we want to create a cadet cadre that are more aware of the opportunities our organisation offers them, but do recognise that those opportunities are sometimes rationed/limited. @themajor is correct, that our hope is that the popover text will provide sufficient info as to what the cadets needs to do to be eligible.

Good question, to which there are two answers. The MVP will allow for two types of activities - bid and non-bid. Take non-bid first, these are activities like remembrance parade where places are unlimited and we want cadets to signup. In these case the flow will be for cadets to say they want to go, and they are automatically added to the SMS nominal roll.

For bid activities, the cadet will say they are interested in attending, but it will be up to the OC (or somebody with the correct SMS role) to select them, reject their bid or make them a reserve.

Longer term, the permanent BADER guys will provide the opportunity to specify requirements that cadets must meet in order to be eligible to sign-up. Initial thoughts are min and/or max age at activity, min and/or max rank, min and/or max classification, must have/must not have qualification. Once in SMS, then we can reflect it in CP, although is is definitely not MVP.

First, the account details will be emailed from SMS to the cadet so OCs won’t necessarily be involved. Beyond that we genuinely believe that CP will reduce the burden on Sqn Staff, so hopefully the benefits will mean that use is encouraged. We don’t really want to go down the route of reporting log-in stats, but we could.

No - The approval workflow will be separate from offering events into CP.

Agree - I think the organisations expectations is that all events are in SMS, regardless of whether they need approval. CP might provide the driver of making the admin required to raise the event in SMS worth the effort of doing it.

Great idea. We are also working with the core BADER team to be able to provide an event flyer with a QR code allowing a cadet to scan the flyer and sign-up on their mobile device (queue comments about cadets and mobiles :fearful:)

I’d counter with 1) You will be able to see who has signed up whilst not at the unit (and if you’re as forgetful as me, not having to go back to unit to take down the sign-up sheet is a win!). 2) For bid based activities, you will primarily care at the closing date

It’s unlikely that your unit would be invited to another units event, especially in another wing, that you weren’t expecting. But for those events you are invited to, you can choose to release to CP or not, and when you do you will be able to specify what level of support the squadron will be providing. So yes, if the squadron couldn’t take the cadet, but a parent was willing to do that drive, better that they had the choice?

Lot’s of people, including Command Board, have asked about having a “staff portal”. Our response is “you already do - SMS”. What needs to happen is for SMS to be changed to have an individual CFAV focus, as well as it’s existing squadron/unit admin focus. The BADER team are definitely on board with making these changes. Their focus now is on revamping the events section and then they may start looking at this.

The idea of staff courses is interesting, and it is certainly something that we can raise with the BADER team for consideration in the future. For the moment the focus is on cadet, and cadet events, but staff could be next (depending on priorities of other activities).

Hopefully that addresses the first tranche of questions for now - I’ll keep monitoring and will provide answers where I can.

Yours,

Mike


#234

Thanks for the detailed reply. I agree SMS serves for the majority of the functions of the portal at the moment - whether you replicate the cadet portal for staff or change SMS to suit is largely dependent on the effort to make it occur I guess and I have no particular preference either way.

Staff have similar interests in progression and development - I can see a solution where the training element of the cadet portal is replaced with a similar version displaying the NCO/Officer promotion matrices and gives access to view and book on courses. In my opinion all courses across the Corps should be visible, but sign ups perhaps restricted to own wing first, then an option to open it to the Region and then Corps as places are not filled.

But I digress. Looks good and should make a big difference I hope.


#235

Mike,
Thanks for the answers.

If a cadet edits SMS and cocks it up, how will we know?
What If they miss type a NOK phone number and in an emergency we can’t get mum or dad etc.
Who will ultimately take the blame (be responsible)… unless we can control critical data on SMS without having to check it all the time then Sqn Staff cannot be held responsible.

NOR will it be acceptable for an OCs inbox to be spammed even more than they are now with update notices every time a cadet changes something.
If this is truly designed to save admin then these sort of practical elements must be considered.

Btw fix ultifail first before making a staff version of this… PLEASE!


#236

@Paracetamol

All good questions. And you’ve highlighted the rub. We need to have up-to-date contact details, but let’s be honest, at the moment we don’t really know if what we have is correct, as we generally don’t get told by cadets when their details change. That’s a problem in an emergency, and it’s also a problem with our responsibilities as information processors in the DPA. So far the only solution is to invite every cadet into the office on some frequency to confirm it is correct - which is probably an unreasonable amount of work, and certainly not what most CFAVs volunteer their time for :slight_smile:

So we are in a better position if we expose the data to the cadets, then they can see that it is wrong, which can prompt it to be changed. This act of changing data will create work. Either the cadet remembers it is wrong and comes bugs a member of staff to change it, or we let them change it and accept they might change it incorrectly, or they change it and a member of staff has to do something to accept it - we’ll strive for the best solution we can! And we’ll certainly make it less than the current process.

I completely agree - and there is work going on in this area as well. Some of it will become much easier once cadets get their Office365/Azure accounts.