4 Integration Options for Social Solutions Apricot Software
Data entry can be a major burden for end users. Although data entry is the starting point for informative reports in Social Solutions Apricot™ software, it can be a drain on time and energy.
There are more important and more valuable tasks to complete. Time saved on data entry can be reallocated to spending more time with clients and expanding the programs and services offered at your organization.
Why integrations and automation?
With features like wizard linking, record copy, and secure web forms, Apricot software is ready to streamline data entry workflows out of the box.
But how do you integrate external, third-party software and applications with your Apricot database?
Most organizations use a variety of technology tools in addition to Apricot software.
- Productivity (calendar and email in Google Apps or Office 365)
- Email marketing (MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma)
- Communications (social, SMS text, drip email)
- Reminders and notifications (email, SMS text)
- External databases (spreadsheets, Access, or other systems)
If you use one or many applications in addition to Apricot, you need ways to integrate Apricot with them. Integrations will streamline data entry, reduce double data entry, and automate recurring tasks in your workflow.
In this post, we will explore how to take data from Apricot and transfer it into another system. We call this process a one-way sync.
1. Print records
When we think about integrations, we often expect systems that automatically transfer data in technologically “magical” processes. These “magical” integrations seamlessly transfer data in a method that is hands-free and requires no manual involvement (more on that later in this post). As a result, manual processes and procedures are often forgotten as an integration option.
The goal of an integration is to save time and most people dismiss manual procedures like printing records because they seem too burdensome.
Manual procedures shouldn’t be written off out right. When manual procedures are codified, systematized, and documented, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer data from Apricot to another system. Each successive transfer becomes easier and takes less time to run.
In order for a manual integration to work, you will need an inventory with the following items.
- Defined, replicable procedure that is documented in a user guide
- Scheduled task list that reminds you to complete the integration on a recurring basis
- Established roles and responsibilities for the integration among your team
2. Exports and imports
Manual processes like printing records are imperfect solutions. Exporting data in reports from Apricot software and importing that data into an external, third-party application is quicker and easier.
Exports and imports still require manual steps but instead of entering data manually by hand, you can batch the data into an external system, saving time and effort.
Exports and imports are a great option in the following scenarios.
- Transfer data from Apricot to another database that is required by private or public funders
- Transfer data from Apricot to another software application that has functionality not available in Apricot software
- Move data from one area of Apricot to another area of your Apricot database if the records are disconnected
Exporting data from Apricot and importing that data into another system requires the same inventory of items as manual data entry. You’ll need documented procedures, a scheduled task list, and established roles and responsibilities to effectively integrate Apricot with another system using exports and imports. In addition, you may also need import templates for the target system so you can quickly move data from an Apricot export report into an external, third-party system’s import template.
3. Email triggers
Automated integrations in Apricot software start with email triggers.
Email triggers are a field type in Apricot software. Add them to any form by simply dragging and dropping the field type in the Apricot form designer.
Email triggers are one-hundred percent automated. They fire (i.e. send) based on criteria.
Criteria are based on three factors:
- A record is CREATED or UPDATED
- A specific field is changed on that record
- Fields on a record match a certain set of criteria
These three conditions are constructed with AND logic, so the email trigger will not fire unless all of the conditions are met.
You can use email triggers to:
- Notify people that don’t have an Apricot login
- Notify people that do have an Apricot login
- Send data from Apricot to a third-party application (automated integration)
Because email triggers are automated and hands-free (meaning they require no manual intervention after they are set up), we can use email triggers to integrate Apricot with external, third-party applications like email marketing software, custom spreadsheets, calendars, task management systems, and more.
Use cases for automated Apricot integrations:
- Add volunteers, donors, or clients from Apricot to an email list in email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact
- Send email notifications from Apricot that run on a delay, like sending a reminder 30 days from today prompting you to complete a new assessment for a client
- Create a task in external task management software like Trello, Asana, Google Tasks, or others
- Add data to a Google spreadsheet or Excel spreadsheet (Office 365) in real time so that external users can download the data without an Apricot login
- Send SMS text messages from Apricot to a client, volunteer, or donor
- Add clients, donors, volunteers, or event attendees from Apricot to a “drip campaign” in email marketing software
Ready to implement Apricot integrations? It is easy to get started. We take care of setup, hosting, and maintenance. Contact us to learn more.
4. ODBC connection (no longer supported)
Update 4/6/2017: This feature is no longer offered by Social Solutions for Apricot™ software. We will update this post should an API or programming interface become available in the future for Apricot software. We are keeping the description of the ODBC connection in this post to illustrate how a programming interface might be used with your Apricot database.
The Apricot software ODBC connection is an API (“Application Programming Interface”) that can be used to read data in your Apricot database. The ODBC connection cannot be used to write data into Apricot.
The ODBC connection is a paid-feature provided by Social Solutions. It offers back-end access to the data in your Apricot database.
Setting up an integration, connection, or application with the Apricot ODBC connection (API) isn’t for everyone. You will need someone to program (write code) a connection for your Apricot database using the API. But even though you need a programmer to do the heavy lifting, don’t let that keep you from using the Apricot API in specific cases.
- Transferring large sets of complex data from Apricot software to another database application automatically
- Leveraging more robust reporting and analytics software like Tableau or SAP Business Objects
- Connecting your Apricot database to your website for live reporting or public dashboards
We don’t see the ODBC connection used very often in Apricot software, but it is a viable option for integrations should you have a need to automatically read data from Apricot and connect that data to another system.
Integrations for your Apricot database
If you are struggling with data entry, especially duplicative data entry, integrations may be a solution. While there are varying types of integrations for Apricot software, consider two factors.
- How much does it cost to implement
- How much time or resources will it save
Evaluate the difference between these two estimates to find the value of any integration. If the savings is more than the cost to implement then it is a positive project.
Learn more about Apricot integrations
Sidekick Solutions develops integrations that move data from Apricot software to external, third-party systems. Send us a message if you’re interested in learning more about what you can do with Apricot software integrations.