How to Build Apricot Software for Reports
Social Solutions Apricot™ software is powerful because it can track any data set. Apricot software can track data for programs, services, volunteers, donors, and events (among many other sets of data). Even though you can track any data set, confirm that your Apricot database is set up to track data that matters. An annual or semi-annual review that confirms the relevancy of the data you track to your required reports will help your organization get the most from Apricot software.
Why build Apricot software for reports?
We often find organizations that have lots of data but aren’t able to turn that data into meaningful information.
A variety of factors, most notably an inability to disseminate raw data into information or tracking the wrong data altogether are the causes of this challenge. This challenge negatively affects any organization’s ability to generate meaningful reports.
How to build Apricot software for reports
Reports require data. Without data, reports are blank templates. Reports ultimately define what data to track in Apricot software, so work backwards from reports to define the optimal structure of your Apricot database.
At Sidekick Solutions, we are big fans of creating systematic procedures for complex topics. Reporting is a complex topic, so we created a simple matrix to define the data that is required for Apricot reports.
Build an Apricot reporting matrix
The rows in the matrix identify “report questions.” A “report question” is simply the question you hope to answer with a report. For example, if you want to know the answer to “Who are we serving?” you will need a report that displays demographic information about your clients.
For the purposes of this exercise, we recommend that you ask goal-oriented report questions. Focus on the handful of goal-oriented report questions that are your organization’s primary performance indicators.
Here are three examples of goal-oriented report questions:
- Who are we serving?
- How are we serving?
- What impact are we making?
Each of these goal-oriented questions may branch off into more specific areas, but start here.
List each report question as a separate row in the matrix starting in Row 2, Column 1 and working down the matrix to Row 3, Column 1 and Row 4, Column 1 and so on.
After listing all of your report questions in rows, add columns to your matrix in Row 1 and start in Column 2. Work your way to the right, Column 3, then Column 4, and so on. Add the following column headers to your matrix.
- Can we answer this question? – Is the data we need to answer this question in Apricot and can we access and report on it?
- What forms determine this answer? – Identify the forms that contribute to the answer for this question.
- What fields determine this answer? – Identify the fields on the forms that contribute to the answer for this question.
- What reports determine this answer? – Identify the existing reports that contribute to the answer for this question.
- Are there any gaps? – Are we missing fields, forms, or reports needed to answer this question?
- How can we improve? – If all fields, forms, and reports are available, how can we improve and dig deeper into this question?
- What action should we take? – What specific actions should we take to make improvements or fill in gaps?
Complete the Apricot reporting matrix
After you build the structure of the Apricot report question matrix, schedule time to fill it in. Complete each row of the matrix.
The final column in the matrix, “What action should we take?” will guide your next steps. Prioritize any actions in that final column, develop a plan for implementation, and then execute the implementation plan.
This matrix and the process of filling it out should identify areas where you need to update the structure of your Apricot database. Updating your Apricot database is a common and expected outcome of this process.
Take action with Apricot data and reports
It is easy to collect data and not use data in Apricot software. As a result, this exercise is meant to keep Apricot users focused on tracking data that is relevant to reports and make sure the database is structured for the reports that matter.
In addition if you complete this exercise and make changes to your Apricot database that reflect your report requirements, you can start realizing the following outcomes.
- Build a clear case for funding
- Communicate your mission’s value proposition
- Comply with funding requirements
- Make changes operationally to improve performance
- Maintain mission focus with empirical data
- Build a curiosity with data across the organization
Structure Apricot software for reports
There is one primary goal in this process. This matrix should identify if the data in your Apricot database can answer the questions that are the core of your organization’s reporting requirements. Don’t be comfortable with collecting data and being “data rich.” Be curious, ask questions, and demand insight from your data. At a high level this matrix can keep your organization’s Apricot data management processes on track and sustainable while also helping your organization stay focused on the data that really matters.