What is an ETO database blueprint?
An ETO database blueprint defines your organisation’s ETO data collection and reporting framework. So, it basically translates participant, program, service, and outcomes data tracking requirements into the architecture of the ETO software. It provides a useful guide to building your system so that it is right for your organisation, whether this is at initial implementation or during ongoing database updates.
An ETO blueprint generally contains the following elements.
- Organisational Information– this section reviews the mission of your organisation, your programs and services and target populations, overall outcomes and quality indicators, and the strategy used for implementing ETO and training staff in its use. This information provides the context in which the remainder of the blueprint can be understood.
- Configuration – defines how your system will be organised to best accommodate your reporting, security, and data entry requirements across all of your programs, including information on participant demographics, entities, workflow elements, touchpoint forms needed for data capture, feeder tables and dashboards that are common across multiple sites and/or programs;
- Data Migration – this section describes any data migration plans your organisation may have to bring in data from your existing systems into ETO in preparation for “Go Live”.
- Reporting – details information on your organisation’s reporting needs and lists required reports and recommendations of retrieving this information.
- Additional ETO features and add-ons – this section of the blueprint will, when applicable, describe other product enhancements or customizations that your organisation will use as part of your ETO implementation.
- Testing and Revisions – the final section of the blueprint outlines the testing and revisions plan agreed by your organisation, where users will walk through the lifecycle of a client within your organisation to determine if the system is working according to expectations, and to highlight any adjustments that may be needed prior to any staff training and “Go Live”.
In general, a blueprint attempts to outline the structure of your ETO database so you can build ETO with a set of intentional instructions. Just like building a house, blueprinting ETO is the preliminary, upfront work that your organisation should do prior to building any component of your database.
How to complete an ETO database blueprint
When an organisation begins work on an ETO blueprint, usually with the assistance of their ETO Implementation Manager, it is useful to start by defining the reports you need to produce as these can guide the type of data you need to collect. So, although this seems counter-intuitive, it is the easiest way to complete an ETO blueprint. Therefore, following are some key steps when completing your blueprint:
Step 1: Define required ETO reports
The first step of a blueprint is to define the ETO reports needed to manage performance toward your organization’s goals.
Reports are derived from data, so reports can define the forms, fields, and data structure required for data entry.
Starting with reports guarantees that you are building relevant data in your ETO database and that the data required for reports is actually captured.
Step 2: Define data needed to generate ETO reports
With clearly defined reports, you should then work backwards to define the data points required to produce these reports. Defining required data should cover two elements:
- The required field data – or what data points are required on your Touchpoints, points of service, or assessments.
- The required object relationships – or how your sites, programs, services, assessments, and Touchpoints are arranged in ETO as well as the reporting universes that are created with your data structure.
Step 3: Translate data requirements into the ETO architecture
After you’ve defined the reports, data, and data formatting, you need to map these to the architecture of the software by outlining where fields will be placed, what forms will be used, and how they are related to one another. This map becomes the blueprint for your software build, which should be reviewed several times for accuracy and relevancy. The blueprint should comprise most of the hard work as it requires a lot of thought and will subsequently make building your ETO database a whole lot easier.
4 Benefits of an ETO Database Blueprint
Without an ETO blueprint, you may create a database that is unmanageable. An over-built database is incomprehensible and is generally underutilised or completely rejected by staff. This can negatively impact the sustainability and health of your ETO software system. Therefore, an ETO software blueprint benefits your organisation in four distinct ways:
1. Strategic focus on Goals and Objectives
Performance management is the process of setting goals, measuring performance toward stated goals, and improving performance to meet expected goals. ETO’s primary purpose is to collect, store, and manage the data you need to improve the performance of your organisation. The first step in the development of your ETO database is defining organizational goals, which should be a core focus of your blueprint. Therefore, the blueprinting process will help your organization keep a strategic focus on your goals and objectives
2. Identifies the core drivers – Metrics and Measurements
Metrics measure performance toward stated goals. Metrics are the core drivers of your service-delivery, program, and business models which sustain or grow performance. Therefore, the blueprinting process will help your organization uncover the core drivers (i.e. metrics) that contribute to high organizational performance and define how to track them with data.
3. Defines relevant, action oriented Reports
Defining reports is the first step in the blueprinting process because reports are the most important feature in your ETO software system. If you aren’t generating ETO reports, you are missing half of the value of your ETO system.
The focus on reporting during the blueprinting process will force your organization to build only those reports that are relevant and actionable instead of building reports just to “build reports.”
4. Ensures Data entry is Streamlined
ETO databases are often overbuilt. Many aim to capture every data point that can be measured without focusing on what data points are necessary. This isn’t helpful, nor does it setup your system for long-term success.
In many cases, less data is better data. Less data is easier to manage, easier to analyse, and is a better return on time. So, your system should only capture data that is relevant (and most important). The blueprinting process therefore helps to produce an ETO site that only captures relevant data, leading to a healthier, streamlined, and more stable ETO database for your organisation.