5 Reasons to Invest in Social Solutions Apricot Implementation
Social Solutions Apricot™ software receives high marks from users and database administrators for ease of use. Apricot’s ease of use may imply that Apricot is easy to setup, but even though users find Apricot intuitive to use, we (Sidekick Solutions) still recommend a formal Apricot implementation project for new users.
When you purchase an Apricot software license, Apricot is a relatively blank canvas. Your Apricot database needs to be built and customized to match your data entry and reporting requirements. An Apricot build-out and customization process will create the general database structure, reports, user groups and permissions, and dashboards. Each of these elements are setup during Apricot implementation.
The scope and quality of your implementation project will impact what you “get out” of Apricot software. As a result, here are five reasons to invest in Apricot implementation.
1. Translate your needs into Apricot's database structure
Apricot’s data entry and data collection functions are built on forms. Forms capture data that can be summarized and displayed in reports.
Forms are intuitive to build and are often synonymous with the paper or electronic data collection systems you use now. At first glance, it seems that a form outside Apricot is equal to a form inside of Apricot. Unfortunately, forms outside of Apricot aren’t always one-to-one analogs of forms inside of Apricot.
You must translate existing forms, whether on paper or in a legacy software platform, into the database structure of Apricot. An intentional implementation process will map your existing forms to Apricot so 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. Forms are for data capture and links are connections (relationships) between unassociated forms. If you don’t have the right Apricot form structure, your database may become un-reportable (meaning you cannot generate needed reports with your data). Placing links in the wrong places, creating too many links, or creating too few links can also make Apricot un-reportable.
Un-reportable data may force you 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. Un-reportable data isn’t a sustainable long-term solution because it may be a drain on staff time, energy, and resources.
A well-designed Apricot implementation process will define form design and linking requirements so you can run Apricot reports.
3. Develop internal knowledge and capacity with Apricot
Apricot software implementation is an onboarding process for your organization. It gets your users up-to-speed with Apricot.
If your organization hopes to manage Apricot internally, users will need to learn it. Investing in your people is important, but training, shadowing, support, and consultation are easy places to cut in an Apricot implementation budget.
Investments in user capacity and knowledge contribute to the long-term viability of your database.
4. Transition smoothly from training to go-live to steady-state
There is a transition period that begins after training and continues about sixty-days after training. Many implementation projects struggle during this timeline because they don’t provide users and administrators the support they need to start “using” the software effectively.
The post-training timeline isn’t steady-state. Apricot isn’t fully adopted and isn’t integrated with your organization’s workflows and processes. As a result, this is where the most friction occurs with Apricot. Friction is caused by the fact that users start “using” the software.
During this timeline, users provide feedback and challenge assumptions made during the implementation process because they are applying the new Apricot database in live situations. Reducing friction and transitioning smoothly from training to go-live to steady-state is another reason to invest time, thought, and energy into implementation planning and execution.
5. Lay the foundation for long-term sustainability
The primary reason to invest in Apricot implementation is to get the most from Apricot software. You invested in Apricot as a software platform, so get a return on that investment. Implementation puts the pieces in place to sustain Apricot long-term.
An implementation project forces your organization 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 prompt intentional discussions that are the first step toward sustaining your Apricot database.
How much should I invest in Apricot implementation?
The amount of investment you make in Apricot software implementation is dependent on your organization’s needs. While there are software implementation best practices you can apply to your Apricot implementation, the formula you use may vary from other Apricot users. For example, you may choose to invest in the design and build of your database, but skip personalized training, reporting, and post-go-live support. Or, you may choose to invest in a robust implementation process that focuses on building internal capacity with additional services like personalized training, report support, and post-go-live consultation. These choices are all dependent on your organization’s Apricot implementation goals and budget.
While there is an urgency to invest in the implementation process so you can get the most from Apricot software, it is important to be smart about your investments. Align your implementation goals with your implementation project scope and budget. Doing so will setup your organization for a positive journey with Apricot software!