Apricot Software Implementation: Preparing for Professional Services
You have first-hand knowledge of your programs, services, and workflows. You know how your organization interacts with clients and the delivery model that underlies those interactions like the back of your hand. This knowledge was developed over years of effort with both a strong passion and a substantial invest of time. When the time comes to implement or update your Social Solutions Apricot™ software system, how do you achieve the best possible translation from your knowledge into a customized Apricot database?
A Personal Story: Partnering with an external expert
We recently redesigned the Sidekick Solutions website. We looked for a web development agency with a particular specialty and partnered with Media Junction for the project. Going into the project, we knew how our company operated, we had a good idea of what we were looking for, but we didn’t have the expertise to build the website from the ground up. We needed external support to build the website.
The challenge with hiring external support, even though it is often the right thing to do, is that a consultant doesn’t know nearly as much about your organization as you do. This was the case with our website project. To overcome this challenge, we focused on minimizing the knowledge gap between our organization and the web development agency.
We were able to close the knowledge gap and accurately translate the vision, voice, and brand of our company with a small amount of upfront preparation.
We want to share three things we learned from our experience because they can help your organization prepare for an implementation or database update project with an Apricot software consultant.
How to prepare for Apricot support from an expert
The goal of each action below is to help you get the most from your investment in professional services for Apricot software. Each action will prompt some light discussion before the start of a new project.
1. Define the project team and your expectations
Start by defining your project team. Identify your project’s primary contact, secondary contact, and support roles. Define clear roles and responsibilities so your internal team is on the same page.
Also define initial project expectations like timeline, project pace, and even norms for communication and collaboration. If you have any special requirements, now is the time to define them.
Write these definitions down in a document so you can share them with the consultant at the start of the project.
2. Gather feedback from multiple user groups
It is easy for the primary project contact and the immediate project team to isolate themselves from the rest of the organization during an Apricot implementation or database update project.
Avoid organizational silos. Gather feedback from your various stakeholder groups and include the important and valuable aspects in the project.
At this stage, be sure to gather feedback from end users that are responsible for data entry. Including end user feedback will enhance end user buy-in when the time comes to train those users on the new or updated Apricot database.
We recommend gathering this type of feedback before diving into initial project tasks. That way you know the expectations of all stakeholder groups before you get started.
3. Build a data collection and report blueprint
You don’t need to do the consultant’s work for them. However, it is a good idea to think through the design of your database before you begin an implementation or database update project.
Start by developing an initial Apricot database blueprint and Apricot report blueprint.
What is an Apricot blueprint? An Apricot database blueprint outlines the data you hope to capture with your database and the Apricot reports you hope to generate from that data.
Your blueprint doesn’t have to be perfect. A simple bullet list of key features, data sets, and reports is a great start. Even a rough outline of an initial blueprint will facilitate an accurate translation of your vision into your Apricot database.
- First, the blueprint is in your language and how you understand the database. The consultant can use this to understand how you communicate and the terminology you use. This will help them make the best translation into the software as possible.
- Second, the consultant needs to learn your programs, services, and workflows. The blueprint can act as an initial discovery tool for that process.
- Third, the blueprint can help you and your project team remained focused on the components that are most important to you. As a project progresses, it is easy to forget little details. The blueprint is a benchmark of your vision.
In addition to the functional outcomes of this process, blueprinting will also help you and your project team think through what you want to achieve with your Apricot database. The clearer you are, the clearer your communication will be with the consultant, which ultimately leads to a more focused project.
Learn Apricot software terminology and vocabulary
If possible, try to get some light training on Apricot software before the start of your project. The goal of training is to familiarize yourself with Apricot software terminology and vocabulary. The consultant will translate everything for you so you both are speaking the same language, but it can help if you start to pick up on the principles of Apricot software too. Learn Apricot terminology through a free trial, training sessions, or even a demo before an Apricot implementation or database update project begins. Take notes and you will be ahead of the game when you start your Apricot implementation or database update project.