Users and administrators of Apricot software often mention its ease of use, however, this doesn’t mean that it is easy to build, setup and implement. When you first purchase an Apricot software license, Apricot is a relatively blank canvas. Your Apricot database needs to be built and customised to match your data entry and reporting requirements.
This means creating the general database structure, reports, user groups and permissions, and dashboards.
The scope and quality of your implementation can determine how much you “get out” of your Apricot software. So, it’s important to invest in a formal implementation project, and if you feel you don’t have the internal resources to be able to do this, you can always enlist the help of an external consultant who can lead your implementation project for you. In any case, this blog outlines five reasons why it is important to invest in a formal Apricot implementation project.
1. Translate your needs into Apricot’s database structure
Apricot captures data via forms that can be summarised and displayed in reports. These forms are often synonymous with the paper or electronic data collection systems you may have recently used. But just because a form may look the same inside and outside of Apricot, doesn’t mean that it is as simple to create in Apricot.
You must translate existing forms, whether that is a paper-based form or an electronic data collection platform, into the database structure of Apricot. An implementation process can help map your existing forms to Apricot so that you don’t miss anything and the database captures data in a reportable format.
2. Build the database with a focus on Apricot reports
The Apricot data structure includes forms and links, where forms are for data capture and links are connections (relationships) between unassociated forms. If you don’t have the right Apricot form structure, you might not be able to generate needed reports with your data. Also, placing links in the wrong places, creating too many links, or creating too few links can also make Apricot unreportable.
If your data is difficult to report on, you may be forced to build reports using the raw SQL report builder in Apricot, export the data to a different reporting tool like Excel, or make other concessions that limit Apricot’s standard reporting functionality. This scenario is not sustainable in the long run as it drains staff time, energy, and resources, and simply makes reporting too hard.
A well-designed Apricot implementation process will clearly define your form design and linking requirements so that you can successfully run reports within Apricot.
3. Develop internal knowledge and capacity with the Apricot database
Having a dedicated software implementation project can help to establish user buy-in, as staff are part of the implementation process. In addition, it can help get your users up-to-speed with Apricot.
Investing in your people is important, but training, support, and consultation are easy places that many organisations often cut out of their Apricot implementation budget. Investments in user capacity and knowledge will no doubt contribute to the long-term viability of your database.
4. Transition smoothly from training to go-live
There is usually a transition period during the first few months after training when staff are starting to use the software and may be encountering difficulties. Without a defined implementation plan, many organisations forget about this period and don’t provide users and administrators with the support they need to use the software effectively.
Therefore, investing time, thought, and energy into implementation planning and execution is critical so that you don’t forget this important time when Apricot may not be fully adopted and integrated with your organisation’s workflows and processes. Users need a mechanism to provide feedback and challenge assumptions made during the implementation process once they start using the database in live situations to ensure a smooth transition from training to go-live.
5. Lay the foundation for long-term sustainability
Finally, the main reason to invest in a solid Apricot implementation is to ensure that you get the most from your Apricot software.
An implementation project forces your organisation to answer questions about how the database will be setup, how the database will be integrated with everyday work, and how the database will be managed. These questions help to ensure you can sustain your Apricot database in the long-term and thereby get a good return on investment.
How much should I invest in Apricot implementation?
The amount of investment you make in Apricot software implementation depends on your organisation’s goals and budget.
So, you may choose to invest in the design and build of your database, but cut back on training, reporting, and post-go-live support. Or, you may choose to invest in a solid implementation process that includes training, reporting, support, and post-go-live consultation in order to build internal capacity to maintain your system in the long-term.
Whatever way you go, you need to be smart about your investments. Engaging in careful planning of your implementation can help to ensure you have a positive experience with your Apricot software and get the most out of it.
This blog is references an original, with permission, developed by Jeffrey Haguewood from Sidekick Solutions, Inc. 18/11/15