How to Draft an Apricot Database Blueprint Before A Build
Social Solutions Apricot™ software is a platform. Each instance of the Apricot platform is customized to match the requirements of the organization that uses it. Whether you are implementing Apricot for the first time or you are making changes to your existing Apricot database, draft an Apricot blueprint before you start building.
Why draft an Apricot blueprint?
Like building a house, blueprinting Apricot software is the preliminary, upfront work that your organization conducts prior to building your system.
An Apricot software blueprint translates your data requirements into the architecture of Apricot, defining where and how to build forms, fields, reports, and workflows in Apricot.
With a properly formatted blueprint, you can confidently begin building your Apricot database.
Drafting an Apricot Blueprint
Drafting a blueprint is a three-step process.
1. Define reports needed to manage performance toward goals
Start the blueprinting process by defining your organization’s goals.
Then outline the format and structure of the reports that measure progress toward your goals. The report outline should include definitions of the metrics that are calculated in each report.
Create a simple list of the reports you define in this step.
2. Define data required to produce reports
Now work backwards to define the points of data that make up the reports listed in Step 1.
Outline the specific data points and relationships between the data points that create the metrics in those reports. The specific data points are the forms and fields in Apricot software. The relationships are the links between records.
List the data requirements of each report as a set of conditions.
3. Map report requirements to the Apricot database architecture
After you’ve listed the reports, data points, and data relationships, map those conclusions to the Apricot database architecture.
Lay out the data requirements logically based on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 structure of the Apricot platform. We recommend doing this in stages.
- First, map the data objects as forms within the Tier 1 and Tier 2 framework
- Second, map the relationships between unassociated forms (if applicable)
- Third, define the fields on each form as specific data points
Before building the blueprint structure in Apricot, it is recommended that you review the blueprint once or even twice for accuracy and relevancy. It is also recommended that more than one person review the blueprint.
Benefits of an Apricot Blueprint
An Apricot software blueprint is a strategic tool that can lead to a more intentional and sustainable build of your Apricot database.
Unfortunately in our experience many organizations jump into building Apricot software before drafting a clear blueprint. That is unfortunate because an Apricot database blueprint has four major benefits.
1. Goals (Strategic Direction)
Apricot’s primary purpose is to collect, store, and manage the data you need to improve the performance of your organization. The data and information within Apricot should be used to inform strategic decisions, take strategic action, and prove “real” performance.
Performance management is the process of setting goals, measuring performance toward stated goals, and improving performance to meet expected goals.
The first step in the development of your Apricot system is defining organizational goals, so the blueprinting process will help your organization maintain a strategic focus on your goals.
2. Metrics (Core Drivers)
Metrics that prove performance are the measures that relate directly to your stated goals. Since they are directly related to your stated goals, the metrics needed for performance measurement are the core drivers of performance at your organization.
The blueprinting process will help your organization uncover the core drivers (i.e. metrics) that contribute to high organizational performance.
3. Reports (Action Oriented)
Defining reports is the first step in the blueprinting process because reporting is the most important feature in your Apricot software system. If you aren’t reporting on data in Apricot, you are missing one half of the value of your Apricot database.
Reports are too often the forgotten side of data management, but a blueprint can help your organization focus on reporting.
Reports should display information related to your goals. As a result, it is important to create reports that are “action oriented.” Actions may include altering strategies or goals, making tweaks to operational procedures or standards, or digging deeper into the data to reveal more insights.
A database full of important data is useful only if the data is extracted, interpreted, and applied to your organization. The heavy focus on reporting during the blueprinting process will force your organization to build only those reports that are relevant and actionable.
4. Data (Healthy Database)
The blueprint produces an Apricot database that captures relevant data. As a product of defining the goals, metrics, and reports you need to manage organizational performance, your system should only capture data, fields, and forms that are most important to your organization.
Apricot databases are often overbuilt, becoming unmanageable and cumbersome for administrators and end-users. In most cases, less data is better data. Less data is easier to manage, easier to analyze, and is a better return on time (i.e. more effective use of time).
The blueprinting process produces a “minimum viable” system (to take terminology from Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup). Since relevant data leads to database health, the blueprint leads to a healthier and more stable Apricot system for your organization.
Blueprint Apricot software before you build
Blueprinting your Apricot database before building it is an important step. Maintaining organization and structure in your Apricot database is achieved through strategic intention, proper planning, and discipline.
Using a blueprint as the first step to implementing Apricot or making improvements to an existing Apricot system can lead to long-term database health and sustainability.