How to Design Tier 1 and Tier 2 Forms in Apricot Software
This post covers a basic Social Solutions Apricot™ software concept, but it is fundamental to the design, use, and administration of your Apricot database. It is important to understand this concept before building, modifying, or making changes to forms in your Apricot database.
Apricot Form Design
In Apricot software, data is collected on forms. Forms come in two varieties: Tier 1 and Tier 2. A Tier 2 form is always associated with a Tier 1 form in Apricot. The Tier 1 form is the parent form to the child Tier 2 form beneath it. Each Tier 1 form may (and most likely will) have multiple Tier 2 forms associated to it. For example, a Tier 1 client profile form may be associated with multiple Tier 2 forms that represent services, assessments, and referrals provided to that client.
Forms and Records
Apricot administrators characterize Tier 1 and Tier 2 objects as either forms or records.
- Forms – Forms collect data. Forms and the fields on those forms, capture data and store it in your Apricot database. A Tier 1 or Tier 2 object that isn’t saved with data is a form. A form is a data entry template.
- Records – Records contain data. Records are created when a Tier 1 or Tier 2 form is saved with data.
1. Tier 1 Forms
Tier 1 forms capture static, relatively unchanging information that doesn’t need to be tracked in time. The Tier 1 form should not be used for data that needs historical context (there are exceptions, see below).
Static information collected on the Tier 1 form is normally associated with a client intake, client profile, or some other entity (e.g. a person, organization, household, family, company, volunteer, etc.). This static information consists of demographics, contact information, or other profile related data. While demographics, contact information, and profile data may change from time to time, they generally don’t require historical context. Data that is updated on a Tier 1 record overwrites the existing data already captured on that record.
A Tier 1 record is a folder. When a Tier 1 form is saved, that record becomes the container for the child Tier 2 records beneath it. A Tier 1 record is a lot like your patient folder at a doctor’s office. Your patient folder contains your name and potentially other demographic information. It also stores your collective history at the doctor’s office. The services you’ve been provided and your history at the doctor’s office are neatly kept in this folder so your information is always organized and easy to find. The folder itself doesn’t require historical context (i.e. Tier 1 record), but the contents of the folder produce a chronological history of your activities at that doctor’s office (i.e. Tier 2 records).
2. Tier 2 Forms
Tier 2 forms are primarily used to track historical data. Tier 2 forms are service, assessment, referral, or other activity forms that require both historical context and may need to be tracked more than one time. For example, you may take multiple assessments per client or provide multiple services per client.
Multiple Tier 2 records of the same form can be associated to a single Tier 1 record. Tier 2 forms are used to track activity over time. For example, if you created a Tier 1 enrollment form with name and SSN as the duplicate check fields, you couldn’t create another enrollment form for that client in the future. However, if the enrollment form was a Tier 2 beneath the client Tier 1 record, you could create multiple enrollments over time for the same client.
Tier 2 records produce an aggregated interaction history, relationship profile, or activity history for the associated Tier 1 record. Tier 2 records are also referred to as dynamic records and Tier 1 records are referred to as static records.
3. Form Linking
The standard relationship between forms and records in Apricot is a Tier 1 parent to Tier 2 child relationship, but sometimes data needs to be related in other ways. For example, you may need to associate Tier 2 assessments to Tier 2 services beneath the same Tier 1 record. You may also have a situation where you need to link a Tier 1 record to an unassociated Tier 1 record like a staff member to a client (see the illustration below).
The process of linking unassociated forms and records that aren’t inherently linked is called form linking.
Form Design Exceptions
There are exceptions to the standard Tier 1 and Tier 2 form structures outlined above. Your Apricot database is a blank canvas and can be designed to meet your organization’s specific data management requirements. While it is a best practice to follow the Tier 1 and Tier 2 structures as they are designed, you can break the mold to create more complex form designs.
For example, you might add a survey as a Tier 1 form so you can publish it as a web form. You may also consider adding demographic or profile data to a Tier 2 form to supplement what is captured on the Tier 1 parent form above it.
No matter what structures you design your Apricot database, the Tier 1 and Tier 2 format is still the foundational structure of Apricot. Even though exceptions may exist, those exceptions must still be built within the context of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 structure.
Blueprint, then Build
Before you build, modify, or make changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 forms in your database it is important to blueprint first. An Apricot software form blueprint is a functional document that describes what forms and fields you will build, modify, or change.
The blueprint will force your organization to think through the strategic purpose of your data and help you define the appropriate locations for your data in the Apricot database Tier 1 and Tier 2 form structure. Creating a blueprint will also reduce form-building errors and misinterpretations. It will also save you time.
Define the proper place for your data by answering the following questions.
- How is my data tracked now?
- How would I like to track data in the future?
- What type of information do I need to collect?
- What types and styles of reports do I need?
- Does my data require historical context?
Based on your answers to each of these questions, you can associate your data needs with the Apricot data architecture. The associations you make will map the layout of your database and how your Tier 1 and Tier 2 forms should be built in Apricot.
Understanding the structure of Apricot is the foundation of data management and reporting in your Apricot database. It is also the foundation for adding or modifying the Tier 1 and Tier 2 forms.
While this concept is basic and one of the first things learned as a Apricot database administrator, it is an important topic for administrators considering modifications, additions, or implementations of new Apricot forms. This is an important topic for all users, roles, and skill levels.