5 eTapestry Training Tips for New and Existing Users

If you are a new Blackbaud® eTapestry® user or you are running into challenges with your existing eTapestry database that you don’t know how to solve, you may need training.

At Sidekick Solutions, we believe in a “people first, software second” approach to eTapestry. This means that your organization needs proficient and confident eTapestry users in order to get the most from your eTapestry software system. Without trained users that can both operate and manage your eTapestry database, you cannot maximize your annual investment in the software.

The objective of eTapestry training is to give your users the exposure and experience they need to be successful with eTapestry.

You can achieve this objective by developing an eTapestry training plan. Use these five tips to get started.

1. Define a training goal

Answer this question. What outcome do we hope to achieve with training?

Define a clear and specific goal or set of goals. A clear and specific goal (or set of goals) can help you focus on important training topics, make training topics more relevant, and help you determine if the training worked.

Training requires an investment of time and potentially money, so maximize the return on that investment with some upfront and intentional planning.

2. Identify a training instructor

You have many options when it comes to eTapestry training. You have the opportunity to train using a self-paced curriculum or you can choose guided training from an eTapestry expert.

There are three common training options for eTapestry users.

  1. Navigate the self-paced training videos and webinars offered by Blackbaud.
  2. Purchase template training from Blackbaud.
  3. Partner with an independent eTapestry consultant for 1-on-1, personalized training.

While self-paced training is a good place to start because it is low or no cost, there are three reasons to consider guided training from an eTapestry expert.

  1. If you want to ask lots of questions, consider partnering with an expert that can answer them for you in real time.
  2. If you have complex challenges you want to solve in your database or specific topics you want to cover, consider partnering with an expert that can build a curriculum specifically for your organization.
  3. If you want to learn by doing with practical use cases and examples, consider partnering with an expert that can spend hands-on time with you in the software.

3. Always include query and report training

Queries and reports are core features in eTapestry software. Queries and reports transform raw data into information that can be used to make smarter decisions, understand trends in performance, and generate segmented constituent lists for marketing activities.

Because queries and reports are so important, here are some recommendations on how to approach this topic during training (regardless of the training format).

  • Create a list of queries and reports that you need to run, but can’t because of lack of proficiency with eTapestry. Practical queries and reports will help the training stick so you can remember what you learned after the training.
  • Spend at least two separate sessions (or days if conducting a self-paced training program) on queries and reports. The first session should focus on exposing your users to query and report vocabulary and functionality and the second session should focus on running practical query and report examples.
  • Invite multiple people to the query and report training sessions. The best way to learn queries and reports is to work as a team and talk through each query and report project. It is also an eTapestry best practice to cross-train your organization’s eTapestry users.

Regardless of the format of your training program, queries and reports should be at the top of your topics list because the majority of eTapestry’s value is derived from the query and report functionality.

4. Include practical use training

There are two elements to an effective training program: exposure and experience. A training program should expose you to concepts and then reinforce those concepts by building your experience. Listening and learning can only take you so far. To master a skill, you must also “do” that skill.

The best training programs incorporate hands-on learning where you can actually “do” what is being taught. If your training program doesn’t include this “hands-on” time, spend time post-training applying what you learned (even if you are completing a self-paced training program). Take notes during each training session and then create examples that you can complete as homework after each session.

5. Develop a list of post-training actions

The training is over. Now what?

The objective of an eTapestry training program is for users to build confidence and proficiency in your eTapestry database. However, this objective doesn’t end with training. Confidence and proficiency aren’t created overnight. Training creates a foundation, and now you must build on top of that foundation.

Define a set of post-training actions at the completion of your training program. Here are some examples of post-training actions you might consider.

  • Set up monthly or quarterly user group meetings to support end-user development with eTapestry and answer any questions they have. If you are the only user, then write down a list of questions or challenges and reach out to an eTapestry expert to get them resolved.
  • Ascertain whether your training goal was achieved. If it was, define how you can sustain that success. If it wasn’t, define why it wasn’t and how you can resolve it (even if that means a more targeted training focused on achieving that specific goal).
  • Define a list of actions you will take to sustain your eTapestry database. Your training should identify ways to make your system healthier and more efficient. Define operational procedures that will keep eTapestry in “prime shape.”

Simplify your database with eTapestry training

The eTapestry platform is sophisticated. The variety of tools, functions, and features available within eTapestry software might feel overwhelming at first, but anyone can learn eTapestry with the right training format. An eTapestry training program that incorporates these five tips can help your users build the proficiency and confidence they need to “get the most” from eTapestry.

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