Apricot Software Training: How to Help Users Learn a New Database

Category: Best Practices

Social Solutions Apricot™ software users are responsible for data entry, reporting, setup, and maintenance.  Learning these tasks starts with training; so let’s explore five things that can make any Apricot software training program successful.

How to identify Apricot Software training groups

Apricot software training is generally segmented into four groups.

  1. Users that need training on Apricot data entry
  2. Users that need training on Apricot reporting
  3. Users that need training on Apricot data entry AND reporting
  4. Users that need in-depth Apricot administrator training

Create separate curricula for each group.

  • Data Entry and Navigation

    Cover basic navigation and data entry procedures. Focus primarily on end users that are primarily responsible for data entry.  The curriculum will be specific to your customized Apricot database.

  • Reporting

    Cover reporting features like how to create a report, how to filter data, how to manipulate and customize a report, and how to build reports with advanced features like comparison and outcomes reporting.  This training is for administrators as well as end users that have a role in creating reports.

  • Administrator

    Cover all administrator functions including user groups and permission sets, form design, imports, secure web forms, Apricot settings, and system administration.  This training is for your database administrators, whose role is to maintain the database.

How to design an Apricot software training program

The goal of Apricot software training is to make it “stick” with users. High training retention will ensure a positive user experience with your Apricot database. To achieve this goal, include these five components in your Apricot training plan.

  • 1. Practical Curriculum

    The best way for Apricot software users to retain knowledge is to make the training practical.  A practical curriculum gives users the opportunity to relate to the training content through direct experience.

    Train users in your live Apricot database.  Show data entry and report building within the structure of your database rather than a test database.

    Include use cases and scenarios from your daily workflow.  Walk users through common situations they will face with the software.

    If the training is focused on reporting, use real data that users will recognize.  While this may not be possible during implementation training, use recognizable data to connect users with Apricot’s reporting functionality.

    Be specific with all training examples and scenarios.  The more specific you are to practical situations, the easier it will be for users to retain the training knowledge.

  • 2. Hands-On Examples

    There are two elements of an effective training program: exposure and experience.  A training program should expose users to concepts and then reinforce those concepts by building experience.  Listening and learning in a lecture-style format can only take users so far.  To master a skill, one must “do” that skill.

    The best training programs incorporate hands-on learning where users can actually “do” what is being taught.

    If your training program doesn’t include this “hands-on” time, assign time after the training for users to apply what they’ve learned (i.e. homework).

  • 3. User Guides

    User guides are instruction manuals on how to operate, use, and manage your Apricot software system.

    User guides illustrate data entry procedures on a form, outline instructions for running a report, or explain navigation within your Apricot system.  User guides are also known as cheat sheets, user manuals, and training guides.

    The primary purpose of a user guide is to offer physical how-to documentation on the operation of your Apricot database.

    It is best to give user guides to training participants before each training session. Users can then follow along during the training. Users can even take notes on the guides and use the guides for future reference.

  • 4. User Forum

    Asking questions and getting them answered is another way that training participants can retain training knowledge.  Provide ample opportunities for training participants to ask questions.

    In addition to asking questions, your training should also give users the opportunity to provide feedback on your Apricot database.

    You don’t want feedback to derail the agenda of the training (because it can), but you do want to take feedback from users.  Taking user feedback is a great way to promote user buy-in for your Apricot system.

    You can take feedback during the training with a “parking lot” (i.e. a list).  Gather feedback so it can be addressed after the training program.  You can also set up a “user forum” so users can provide ongoing feedback after the training sessions are complete.

  • 5. Post-Training Checkups

    The training is over. Now what?

    The objective of Apricot software training is to develop confident and proficient Apricot software users.

    But this objective doesn’t end with training. Confidence and proficiency aren’t created overnight. Training is only a foundation.

    Define a set of post-training actions at the completion of your training program.

    Set up monthly or quarterly check-in meetings with users to support their development with Apricot and answer any questions they have. If you are the only user attending the training, write down a list of questions or challenges and reach out to an Apricot administrator or expert to get them resolved.

    Ascertain whether your training goals were achieved. If they were, define how you can sustain that success. If they weren’t, define why they weren’t and how you can resolve it (even if that means a more targeted training that focuses on achieving a specific goal).

    Define a list of actions that you will take to sustain your Apricot system. Your training should identify ways to make your system healthier and more efficient. Define operational procedures that will keep Apricot in “prime shape.”

Getting the most from Apricot software training

Software training is often a great unknown.

  • Will it be effective?
  • Will users actually learn the database?
  • Will the money we invest in training yield a return?

Many factors contribute to the effectiveness of an Apricot software training program.  The good news is that most users find Apricot software easy to use and intuitive.  These qualities reduce the challenges related to user buy-in and increase user curiosity in the software.  With those challenges set aside, you can focus intently on how you help users retain the knowledge they learn during training.

Go beyond lecture-driven software training and build a training program that is user-centric.  Focus on users with the five components in this post to create an engaging and effective Apricot software training program.

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