Apricot™ software users need adequate training in data entry, reporting, setup, and/or maintenance in order to build proficiency, confidence, and capacity in Apricot, thereby ensuring your system functions effectively. But the type of training they require will depend on their role, with Apricot software training generally segmented into four groups:
- Users that need training on Apricot data entry
- Users that need training on Apricot reporting
- Users that need training on Apricot data entry AND reporting
- Users that need in-depth Apricot administrator training
It is important to tailor training to each specific group by creating separate curricula for each, such as:
- Data Entry and Navigation– For these users, you may want to cover basic navigation and data entry procedures specific to your customised Apricot database, focusing primarily on end users that are responsible for data entry.
- Reporting– For these users, you may want to cover reporting features like how to create a report, how to filter data, how to manipulate and customise a report, and how to build reports with advanced features like comparison and outcomes reporting. This training could be for administrators as well as end users that have a role in creating reports.
- Administrator– For these staff, you may want to cover all administrator functions including user groups and permission sets, form design, imports, secure web forms, Apricot settings, and system administration to ensure your database administrators can adequately maintain your database.
Once you have determined the different versions of training you need for specific user groups, you then want to ensure that the training “sticks” with your users. This blog will outline 5 ways you can enhance your Apricot training to ensure it is successful.
1. Practical Training Curriculum
The best way for Apricot users to retain knowledge and build capacity is to make the training practical and specific to daily workflows. A practical curriculum links the training content to a user’s direct experience with Apricot. Three ways to make the training curriculum practically-focused include:
- Train users in the Apricot database that they will use moving forward. Show data entry and report building “live” within the structure of your Apricot site rather than a demo site by using custom screen shots to show things specifically as they are built in your system.
- Include real-life cases and scenarios from the daily work of your organisation in the training curriculum. Walk users through common scenarios and how they correspond to actions in your Apricot database.
- If the training focuses onApricot software reporting, use real data your users will recognise so that they can connect with the reporting features. While this may not be possible during implementation training, use recognisable data to connect users with Apricot’s reporting functionality.
2. Hands-On Examples and Exercises
An effective Apricot training program should expose users to concepts and then reinforce those concepts by getting them to actually “do” the relevant Apricot tasks so that they can build their experience and mastery of the software. After all, “practice makes perfect” and contributes to knowledge retention.
So, it is best to incorporate hands-on learning where users can actually “do” what is being taught. Include opportunities for users to enter live data or run a real report. You can also assign homework so that users can take time after each training session to complete exercises that reinforce the training concepts.
3. User Guides & Supporting Documentation
Despite your best efforts to make training practical and hands-on in order to increase knowledge retention, some users may forget how to do certain tasks particularly if they are not using Apricot on a frequent basis. In these instances, it is important to have written resources to support users after training sessions are complete.
User guides are instruction manuals on how to operate, use, and manage your Apricot system. User guides illustrate data entry and operational procedures, outline instructions for running a report, or explain steps to navigating around Apricot or a workflow.
It is best to give training participants user guides prior to each training session. Users can follow along in their user guides as the trainer shows data entry or reporting features in Apricot. Users can then take notes in their user guides, and refer to them later to help jog their memory afterwards.
You can also create cheat sheets to supplement your user guides which are generally one page documents describing best practices using hints and tips to help training stick with users. You should also make all your training resources accessible via Google Docs, Dropbox, or Youtube to retain internal knowledge within the organisation.
4. User Forums for Q&A and Feedback
Asking questions and getting them answered is another way that training participants can retain training knowledge. Provide ample opportunities for training participants to ask questions.
In addition to asking questions, your training should also give users the opportunity to provide feedback on your Apricot database.
You don’t want feedback to derail the agenda of the training (because it can), but you do want to take feedback from users as it promotes user buy-in for your Apricot system. Therefore, during the training you could create a “parking lot” (i.e. a list) of user feedback which can be addressed after the training program. This ensures users feel like their input is valued. You can also set up a “user forum” so users can provide ongoing feedback after the training sessions are complete.
5. Post-Training Checkups
Building user confidence and proficiency in your Apricot database does not end when the final training session is complete, as this takes time. Training is just the foundation, so you must sustain the training outcome long-term by defining a set of actions to follow-up after the Apricot training program is complete. For example:
- You may want to set up monthly or quarterly followup meetings with users to support their development with Apricot and answer any questions they have. It’s important to address any questions promptly because questions help users contextualise what they’ve learned. If you are the only user attending the training, write down a list of questions or challenges and reach out to an Apricot administrator or expert to get them resolved.
- Work out whether your training goal was achieved.If it was, define how you can sustain that success. If it wasn’t, define why it wasn’t and how you can resolve it (even if that means a more targeted training focused on achieving that specific goal).
- Based on feedback from the training, define a list of actions you will take to sustain your Apricot system and make it more efficient.Define operational procedures that will maximize your investment in Apricot.
Software training is often a huge unknown. Questions can come up, like:
- Will it be effective?
- Will users actually learn the database?
- Will the money we invest in training yield a return?
Apricot software is easy to use and is intuitive, which is a great plus when it comes to knowledge retention from training, however, you still want to make your training effective. By incorporating these five tips into your Apricot software training, you can help your users be the best at what they do.