5 Must-Haves for Apricot Software Implementation
Are you ready to implement your Social Solutions Apricot™ software system? Plan for success by getting the proper pieces in place before you dive into your Apricot software implementation project.
Most organizations that dislike or don’t get the most out of their software can trace their discontent back to the initial implementation of the software. Implementation projects falter when organizations aren’t prepared to “sustain” the software system after the implementation project is complete. Implementation isn’t just about getting software up and running. It should also prepare your organization for long-term, on-going use of your software.
Prepare for post-implementation use of Apricot by including these five items in your Apricot software implementation project.
1. User Guides
User guides are instruction manuals on how to operate, use, and manage your Apricot database. User guides illustrate data entry procedures on a form, outline instructions for running a report, or explain the navigation within your Apricot system. User guides are also known as cheat-sheets, tip sheets, instructions, and training guides. The primary purpose of a user guide is to offer physical how-to documentation on the operation of your Apricot system.
Every Apricot system is unique. Help documentation supplied by Social Solutions only covers generic Apricot examples and standard Apricot functionality. Help documentation will not cover the specific design and operation of your organization’s Apricot system. Supplement the standard help documentation from Social Solutions with custom user guides. These will become your organization’s reference guides for why your Apricot system was built in a certain way, how your Apricot system collects and manages data, and what processes are required for keeping your Apricot system healthy.
Add user guides to your Apricot software implementation project to-do list.
2. Operational Reports
Implementation projects generally focus on building Apricot forms and training new users. Reports are often added to the post-implementation task-list, but many organizations find the task of building reports overwhelming. Building reports in the immediate time following the implementation project can be stressful and challenging because new users must build reports with limited report building experience. The alternative is to include reporting as a part of your Apricot implementation process.
At Sidekick Solutions, we view Apricot software reporting in two categories: operational reports and ad hoc reports.
- Operational reports are required to operate the organization and consistently manage, evaluate, and analyze data in your Apricot database.
- Ad hoc reports aren’t needed on a consistent basis. They are needed on-demand based on changing needs for data.
Ad hoc reports have less priority in the short-term. Ad hoc reports will draw on the knowledge your organization develops during training, but operational reports are needed right away to use Apricot to its fullest potential.
Operational reports are a must-have implementation item. You need certain data and information to operate your programs, services, and the organization in general. Without this data, it is impossible to understand the dynamics of your operations. Operational reports might include actively enrolled participants, call lists, follow-up task lists, demographic reports for funders, service counts, or even outcomes reporting.
Forms must be built and some data must be in your system to build reports. As a result, reports generally come near the end of implementation. Consider going live with your Apricot and then scheduling a thirty-day window to build operational reports after go-live. The placement of report building in the implementation timeline isn’t critical, but it is important to have it in your implementation process.
3. Custom Training
Your Apricot system is custom built to match your organization’s data management and reporting requirements. There may not be any training materials, guides, or resources that describe the specific functionality of your Apricot system.
Make training practical so the content will “stick” with your users. Custom training will give users of your Apricot database more relevant training than the standard Apricot software training webinars. Custom training exposes users to features and functionality specific to your organization’s Apricot database.
Proficient users support a healthy system. Consider custom training as a part of your Apricot implementation.
4. Short-Term, High-Touch Support
The timeline immediately following the go-live date for approximately sixty to ninety days is critically important to your success with Apricot long-term. A very important process happens during that timeline: you start using the software.
- Your users get their feet wet in the software and pain-points, challenges, and questions come up. They need immediate help resolving their challenges to remain engaged with Apricot.
- Your organization finds that the design you built during implementation needs to be changed.
- You discover that you forgot an element or feature during your implementation process and need to add it to the Apricot design.
- Features and functionality you thought were important during implementation aren’t important during real-time use, or features and functionality you thought were unimportant turn out to be critical.
Even with the best vision and the best strategic intent during implementation, you can’t think of everything. The best way to understand the impact the new software has on your organization is to actually use it. That is why the immediate timeline after go-live is the most critical to your organization.
As a result of all these elements, it is important to have some sort of short-term, high-touch support from an Apricot expert immediately following the go-live date. Technical support from Social Solutions may not be enough in this short-term, post-go-live timeframe. Plan ahead so you can answer user and administrator questions as they dive into Apricot for the first time.
Process is the “how” of software implementation and design. Processes are how your organization and your users will interact with the software, how will the software affect their work, and how will the software be managed. Processes link your people to the software.
You can define processes by answering questions that relate to the health and sustainability of your Apricot system.
- How will we keep our data clean and consistent?
- How will we report our data and analyze the information?
- How will we maintain end-user and administrator knowledge?
- How will we get answers to our questions?
- How will we manage the system on a month-to-month basis?
- How will we integrate other information systems with Apricot?
Defining processes sets expectations, roles, and responsibilities for your Apricot database. It also addresses critical areas such as system maintenance, data health and quality, and integrations with other data systems or tools. Processes are the ecosystem that surrounds your Apricot system.
Be mindful of these five must-have items if you are about to start your Apricot database implementation. The inclusion of these items can positively impact the setup process and the long-term health and sustainability of your Apricot database.