Apricot Database Audit: When is the Right Time to Clean Up?

Category: Database Health

Keeping a Social Solutions Apricot™ software system clean and healthy is a big task and knowing when to invest time, money, and energy into a database cleanup project can be a difficult decision to pinpoint. When is the right time to clean up your Apricot database? Let’s explore the answer to that question with four scenarios.

1. Inefficient data entry workflows

Data entry time is a major cost. Time is a scarce organizational resource and time spent on data entry is time that can’t be spent on clients, volunteers, and stakeholders plus various other important organizational tasks.

Your Apricot software system should increase the efficiency of organizational processes by reducing data entry time. Saving on data entry time is a key benefit that contributes to your return on investment in the software.

How to identify

  • Users must navigate around, in a non-linear format, to complete common data entry tasks
  • Users find that the database isn’t intuitive or doesn’t match their workflows
  • Users consistently miss data entry steps in common workflows
  • Your database doesn’t take advantage of workflow features like form logic, batch data entry, wizard linking, or registration grid

The best way to determine if data entry workflows are inefficient is to ask your users.  Most users responsible for day-to-day data entry will provide candid feedback about friction in their data entry workflows.

2. Inability to report using standard features

Reporting is the ultimate prize of your Apricot database. Apricot software can transform your data into actionable metrics, charts, visualizations, dashboards, and analytics. Apricot reports provide insight into your organization’s operations and show areas where you can improve performance.

Reporting is at least fifty percent of the value of your Apricot database (the other 50% being data management and storage). The inability to generate reports is a cost because it means that you are unable to derive value from fifty percent of the annual cost you pay for the software.

How to identify

  • Must use Apricot SQL and custom report expression features for most reports (with some exceptions)
  • Cannot correlate data properly using standard report functionality
  • Must export to Excel or another external reporting software for most reports (with some exceptions)
  • Form structure in each report section is so crowded that administrators and report-writers can’t track the relationships between records

The Apricot reporting platform is powerful and can scale to match the expertise of most administrator users. This means most users can intuitively generate simple, straightforward reports while more advanced users can generate complex reports with sophisticated data manipulation.

Regardless of skill level, Apricot software has the capability to handle most reporting projects, given that your database is structured properly. An inability to report using Apricot’s standard features signals a need to potentially restructure the forms and links in your Apricot database.

3. Too many unassociated forms with no form linking

Your Apricot database is a fully customizable software system that can track any data set. This post outlines the various ways you can use Apricot to track your organization’s data.

Because Apricot software is so flexible, it is important to properly structure forms and build relationships between each record in your database. The structure and links within your database dictate how data is entered in the database and also how data is reported.

Creating new Tier 1 and Tier 2 forms is a straightforward process in Apricot software. But adding new forms can be deceiving. For example, Tier 1 records like ‘Volunteer Profile” and “Client Profile” are completely separate data sets. They are effectively two sub-databases within your larger Apricot database. Linking brings unassociated records together and enhances the capability of Apricot software for data entry and reporting.

How to identify

  • Many Tier 1 forms that are unassociated to other records in your database (that are not secure web forms)
  • Inability to correlate two separate data sets in a report
  • Many single Tier 1 forms that have no Tier 2 forms beneath them

Create links between unassociated records to report on multiple data sets in the same report section.

4. No standard rules or conventions, and inconsistent data entry

Database administration is the process of organizing and coordinating the maintenance of your Apricot database. Databases like Apricot software are technological engines that run best with standardized rules and conventions.

Even a small amount of inconsistent data entry, poor database management, or neglect can compromise the integrity of your Apricot database, which is why every Apricot database needs a unique set of standards, rules, and procedures.

Keeping your database healthy requires, to some extent, rigid adherence to procedures. This includes procedures for database administration, data entry, and reporting. A cleanup may be required if these procedures aren’t in place.

How to identify

  • No recurring data quality procedures
  • No documented data entry procedures for end users
  • No database blueprint with rules for adding new forms and fields
  • Staff turnover has left a knowledge gap for the database
  • Users enter the same data using different workflows and different data entry conventions
  • A high number of user inquiries on how to enter data or navigate the database

Even though long-term inconsistent database procedures can prompt a database cleanup project, you can correct most deficiencies in the short term by drafting standard operating procedures and user guides for your database.

How to conduct an Apricot database audit

Many of the “How to identify” points in this post are general and don’t apply to every database. As a result, we recommend that you complete an Apricot database audit before you decide to dive into a cleanup project.

An Apricot database audit will identify the specific reasons why you might consider a database update, cleanup, or refresh. We recommend that you use this post to start the conversation and support the conclusions you make in an Apricot database audit.

Looking for an Apricot database audit template? Download our Apricot Software Self-Assessment Guide and Worksheet. Follow the instructions in this free download to complete a full review of your Apricot database.

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