5 Steps to Take During an Apricot Database Administrator Transition

We often see organizations struggle to sustain Apricot software after the departure of an Apricot administrator. The departure of a database administrator is a shock that can leave your organization feeling as if it were on an island.

You may have invested a great deal of time, energy, and resources into your Apricot database administrator. Replacing their expertise will be a challenge because the departing administrator takes organizational knowledge of your Apricot software system with them that probably took months, maybe even years, to develop.

Fortunately, there are five steps you can take to mitigate the impact of an Apricot software administrator transition.

  1. Gather all reference resources and documentation
  2. Complete a top-to-bottom database system assessment
  3. Outline Apricot database administrator roles and time commitments
  4. Outsource complex tasks to an independent Apricot software consultant
  5. Cross train internal team members and assign simple tasks to them

Start with open communication

Mitigating the risks and challenges of an Apricot administrator transition is a team effort. You will need help from across the organization to sustain your Apricot system through a transition.

Start by explaining the impact of the database administrator transition and what everyone should expect during the transition.

While clear communication may not seem incredibly insightful, there is a strong case for why you should be transparent.

  • Changes in the level of support to end users may require end users to take more ownership in the database for a period of time.
  • Expectations of end users and mid-level users may dynamically adapt as the organization does its best to fill the knowledge gap left by the departing administrator.
  • Roles and responsibilities related to your Apricot software system may change, and some changes may be sudden.
  • Where and how users ask questions may evolve as temporary Apricot administrators take responsibility for the database and then eventually pass responsibility to a designated administrator.

A database administrator transition can be stressful and uncomfortable for all types of Apricot users—those responsible for data entry as well as those responsible for administrative features and reporting. Update your team frequently so they aren’t surprised by the changes happening around them.

  • 1. Gather all reference resources and documentation

    Every Apricot software system is a little different. Custom forms, fields, and reports make your database unique. These customizations aren’t documented in the Social Solutions Apricot software Help Center or knowledge base.

    As a result, we recommend that Apricot users draft user guides, reference resources, and documentation on the following topics.

    • Data entry and workflow user guides that illustrate system navigation for end users
    • Administrator blueprints or schematics that define your custom database structure
    • Administrator user guides that define how user groups and permissions are set up
    • Administrator user guides that describe how to manage data quality in your system
    • Documented correspondence with any Apricot consultants or Social Solutions technical support

    These resources codify organizational knowledge so it isn’t locked away with any one person. These resources will also help a new database administrator get up to speed on your custom database quickly.

    • If you do have drafted reference resources and documentation, gather them into a centralized location so you can access them during the transition.
    • If you don’t have drafted reference resources and documentation, work with your departing Apricot administrator to draft them before their final day.
  • 2. Complete a top-to-bottom database system assessment

    It is likely that the person leading the transition process isn’t an Apricot expert (because the Apricot expert is departing), but they will need as much information as possible about your Apricot software system in order to make informed decisions during the transition.

    Here are three ways to gather that information.

    > First, answer some broad questions about your Apricot software system.

    • Why did the current person leave? Was it something that we need to fix before hiring a new administrator?
    • What is the current status of our Apricot software system? What priorities are high value, low value, or zero value?
    • What is the Apricot software administrator role in our organization? How does it fit our culture and organizational structure, if at all?

    > Second, gather user feedback from across the organization.

    • What do users like about how Apricot is set up?
    • What don’t users like about how Apricot is set up?
    • Where are the frictions in their daily workflows?
    • What is Apricot missing that they wish it had?
    • What does a normal day look like with Apricot for users?

    > Third, complete an Apricot database audit and system assessment.

    An audit and assessment will help your entire team understand what is working with the current Apricot system and what isn’t working.

    In an assessment you can define the challenges you currently face with the database as well as your future vision for the system. Click here to download our Apricot system assessment worksheet template.

  • 3. Outline Apricot database administrator roles and the time commitment

    What does the Apricot database administrator role look like in your organization?

    The answer to this question will feed into the hiring process for new employees, promotions for existing employees that may want to take on the administrator role, or evaluations of external consultants that may step in to complete Apricot administrator tasks.

    Understanding the resource requirements of an Apricot administrator is two components.

    1. What tasks need to be completed?
    2. How much time is required to complete each task?

    Map all of the tasks your Apricot administrator is responsible for as well as the time commitment required by their role each month. This analysis doesn’t need to be complex or burdensome.

    • Draft a simple bullet-point list of all tasks the administrator completes each month plus any tasks that they complete annually in Apricot.
    • Track all time related to Apricot administration for a month (or if two weeks notice is given, for the remaining two weeks of time).
    • Classify tasks and time into four categories: data entry, user support, reporting, and system administration.

    This analysis will help you determine how to allocate tasks and time to other resources, even if those other resources mean outsourcing Apricot administration to an independent consultant. You will have the information to compare costs and calculate the return on investment (ROI) of filling your Apricot administrator role.

  • 4. Outsource complex tasks to an independent Apricot software consultant

    Oftentimes when an Apricot administrator leaves the organization there isn’t enough time for a new administrator to get up to speed on Apricot software. Social Solutions Apricot software is a complex database. While some features are straightforward to manage, others require a high level of expertise.

    We recommend that you look for an independent Apricot software consultant that can come in, learn your system, and take the lead on complex tasks like custom reporting, database structure, and imports among other tasks.

    This may seem like a shameless plug because Sidekick Solutions provides Apricot software consulting services, but let’s consider two scenarios.

    Scenario #1 – Take no immediate action to fill the administrator role.

    Set a plan to find a new administrator or train a new one internally but don’t set up a solution for the interim. This scenario runs the risk of shutting down administrator functions for your Apricot system until the administrator role is filled. This isn’t ideal, considering that users will still enter data, they may have questions and require support, and the database needs your attention to remain healthy and stable.

    Scenario #2 – Look for a short-term fix to fill the administrator role.

    Allocate resources to make sure there is no break in the level of attention your database receives from a skilled Apricot software administrator. The best way to do this is to immediately search for an independent Apricot software consultant that can step in as a short-term system administrator for your organization (or potentially long term depending on how the relationship develops).

    We recommend that your organization outsource complex tasks in Apricot software so that you can sustain the database through the transition. You don’t want the transition to affect the return on investment that you make in Apricot software. At a minimum, outsourcing your Apricot administrator is a short-term solution that puts your database in neutral so it doesn’t slip into disarray or disrepair.

  • 5. Cross train internal team members and assign everyday tasks to them

    While you can certainly outsource all Apricot administrator tasks to an Apricot consultant, you might choose to split tasks between your internal team and an Apricot consultant. That way you can save on transition costs and also build internal capacity with Apricot.

    Everyday tasks include:

    • Providing support to end users for data entry and navigation
    • Reviewing and managing data quality
    • Building ad hoc reports
    • Adding new users or managing permissions

    At a minimum, consider cross training internal team members on some Apricot functions. Assign pieces of the Apricot administrator’s role to multiple team members. Cross train them on Apricot functionality so you have knowledge back up for those tasks and features.

    Although the knowledge will be somewhat disconnected among multiple people and eventually you will want someone to have global knowledge of the system, this method has a few primary benefits:

    • It is easier for users to get up to speed with Apricot when they focus on a specific function. The narrow perspective makes the task of learning Apricot more manageable.
    • Assuming your team can learn Apricot and each person can take on a small segment of the database, you have at least two people (the cross-trained team member and your new Apricot administrator) that know about a specific Apricot feature or function.

    With outsourced support from an Apricot software consultant and cross-trained internal team members, Apricot software has the collaborative ecosystem it needs to thrive.

    Sustain your database with this balance of supports until you feel confident in making a decision on the long-term administrator role for your Apricot system.

Develop an intentional plan that everyone can understand and follow

When your administrator leaves, make sure that normal operations with the database can continue as they have in the past.  

It may also be worthwhile considering the five steps listed above in terms of timeline. If timelines help you think through the time, budget, and energy required to navigate the transition, start with a quick outline.  

What tasks and roles are most critical in the following timelines?

  1. Immediate Term (1-3 months)
  2. Short Term (Less than 1 year)
  3. Long Term (Longer than 1 year)

Identify what you need in each timeline and prioritize next steps. Building a priority list like this will help your organization sustain Apricot software through an administrator transition.

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