You may have an intimate knowledge of your organisation’s programs, services, and workflows after years of effort and a substantial investment of time. You now want to implement or update your Apricot software system and don’t have the expertise to do so yourself, but you want to ensure that your knowledge is translated into a customised Apricot database. This is where the help from an external expert comes into play.
The challenge with hiring external support, even though it is often the right thing to do, is that a consultant doesn’t know nearly as much about your organisation as you do. To overcome this challenge, it is important to focus on minimising the knowledge gap between your organisation and the external expert with a small amount of upfront preparation.
This blog talks about four things you can do to help your organisation prepare for an implementation or database update project with an Apricot software consultant in order to get the most from your investment in professional services.
1. DEFINE YOUR INTERNAL APRICOT IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT TEAM AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Start by defining your project team. Identify your project’s primary contact, secondary contact, and support roles. Define clear roles and responsibilities so your internal team is on the same page.
Also define initial project expectations like timeline, project pace, and even methods for communication and collaboration. If you have any special requirements, now is the time to define them.
Write these definitions down in a document so you can share them with the consultant at the start of the project.
2. GATHER FEEDBACK FROM MULTIPLE USER GROUPS ENGAGED IN YOUR SOCIAL CHANGE WORK
It is easy for the primary project contact and the immediate project team to isolate themselves from the rest of the organisation during an Apricot implementation or database update project. Avoid organisational silos.
Gather feedback from your various stakeholder groups, particularly from end users that are responsible for data entry and include this feedback in the project. Including end user feedback will enhance end user buy-in when the time comes to train those users on the new or updated Apricot database.
We recommend gathering this type of feedback early on before diving into initial project tasks. That way you know the expectations of all stakeholder groups before you get started.
3. BUILD AN APRICOT SPECIFIC DATA COLLECTION AND REPORT BLUEPRINT
It’s a good idea to start thinking through the design of your database before you begin an implementation or database update project, without necessarily doing the work of your consultant. Start by developing an initial Apricot database blueprint and Apricot report blueprint.
An Apricot database blueprint outlines the data you hope to capture with your database and the Apricot reports you hope to generate from that data.
You might not get everything right in your blueprint from the beginning, but as a starting point, develop a list of key features, data sets, and reports that you need. Even a rough outline can facilitate any discussions with an Apricot consultant and assist in the following ways:
• Because the blueprint is in your language and outlines how you understand the database, the consultant can use this to understand how you communicate and the terminology you use so that they can apply this to the software as much as possible.
• The blueprint can act as an initial discovery tool to help the consultant learn your programs, services, and workflows.
• The blueprint can help you and your project team remain focused on the components that are most important to you and think through what you want to achieve with your Apricot database so that the little details are not forgotten. So the blueprint can help your consultant realise this vision.
Therefore, the clearer you are in your blueprint, the clearer your communication will be with the consultant, which ultimately leads to a more focused project.
4. LEARN APRICOT SOFTWARE TERMINOLOGY AND VOCABULARY
If possible, try to get some light training on Apricot software before the start of your project.
The goal of training is to familiarise yourself with Apricot software terminology and vocabulary. You can do this through a free trial, online training sessions, or even a customised demo before an Apricot implementation or database update project begins.
Knowing the lingo can help you communicate with an Apricot consultant and ensure you are on the same page and speaking the same language.
This blog is based, with permission, on an original developed by Jeffrey Haguewood from Sidekick Solutions, Inc. on 14/04/16