Sidekick Solutions, Platinum Sponsor of the 2017 Impact Summit, wants to help you make the most of your Apricot database platform, and the Impact Summit last week was the perfect opportunity to share ideas and build community around Apricot. In continuation of the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding this year’s Summit, we are thrilled to present this guest post from Sidekick Solutions.
Social Solutions’ Apricot™ software is nonprofit database software for tracking and reporting on your nonprofit’s many data sets, including clients, programs, services, outcomes, volunteers, and more. At its core, Apricot is a highly configurable database platform. You can customize Apricot to match your organization’s specific workflow and reporting requirements, saving you time on service delivery, data management, and reporting.
Apricot offers a broad canvas of possibilities for implementation and customization, but the flexibility of Apricot’s features can leave users and administrators with a few questions on how to get started.
- Which of Apricot’s potential applications are the best fit for my organization?
- How are other organizations like ours using Apricot?
- What is must-have in our Apricot database and design?
- How do we get the most from our Apricot software system?
Whether you are evaluating Apricot software for purchase, are a new user about to start implementation, or are an existing user with an existing system, designing and managing an Apricot database takes a dose of creativity, and it helps to have a few ideas and use cases as examples.
To help you get started, here are ten ways you can configure Social Solutions Apricot software to operate programs, deliver services, engage with constituents, and generate reports.
1. Profiles and demographics
Most Apricot database designs start with a profile form. Profile forms are the starting point for navigation, data entry, and reporting in Apricot software, and they generally track an entity like a client, household, organization (like a community partner or service provider), or volunteer.
Your profile form may go by a different name, like Intake, Facesheet, or Demographics, but the principle of the form is the same. In Apricot, a profile form tracks the demographics, contact information, and other details of the people or organizations engaged with your organization.
Whether your clients are children, youth, adults, or participants, or you are engaging with volunteers, community partners, or service providers, profile forms in Apricot set the foundation for your database.
Data entry for accurate reports
Demographic profiles and percentages are likely a part of your reporting requirements. You need to know the composition of your clients at intake and the characteristics of the population that enroll in your programs and receive services. For accurate reports, demographic questions on the profile should validate data entry and enforce consistency. Apricot comes with a full palette of option-based field choices like drop down menus, radio buttons, and check boxes for this purpose.
Report on demographics by percent
Reporting on profile demographics is straightforward in Apricot when data entry standards are enforced with option-based fields. Whether you are reporting on demographics by intake, enrollment, or services received, Apricot reports can calculate the percentage of profiles by any demographic value. Create a new report, drag the demographic field into a report section as a column, group by the demographic field, and turn on percentages. Activate the graph feature to display a pie chart of the breakdown.
In-form demographic calculations
Streamline Apricot data entry and validate numeric demographic data with in-form calculations. Automatically calculate age at intake, total income from various income types, number of people in a household, or eligibility scoring with calculation fields on your profile forms. Data entry users can reference this data on the form itself or pull it into reports for analysis.
2. Households and individuals
Your reports may require separate analysis on households and individuals. Like client profiles, you may use different terminology. For the purposes of this article, a household is a group of clients which may include families or cases.
To report on households and individuals as separate entities, your Apricot database will need two profile forms: one household profile and one client profile. These two separate forms will then be associated with a linking field. Linking fields in Apricot connect unassociated forms, allowing users to correlate the linked records in reports. This database structure allows for analysis by both households and individuals.
Separate profiles and demographics
The data you track about individuals may be different than the data you track about a household. With Apricot’s form designer, you can build separate profiles for households and individuals to track separate demographics, characteristics, and details. This separation allows for separate reporting across the two profiles.
Identify household member roles
When tracking separate profiles for households and individuals, use a linking field to associate individuals with households and the link descriptions to identify household member roles. The link description field is a setting within the link field properties. Use the description to identify a household member’s role—like primary or member—and to remove duplication in reports when more than one individual in a household participates in your programs. You may also use the description to identify household member relationships by type like child, parent, or grandparent.
3. Program enrollments
If your clients can enroll in your programs more than once or transition among multiple programs that you offer, you may need the ability to track program enrollment and exit. Use a program enrollment form in Apricot to track real-time program rosters, report on participation within a date range, and even log the status of a client at enrollment and at exit. Tracking enrollments adds precision to reports because you can correlate program activities to the associated enrollment.
Enrollment duration, roster and participation reports
A basic program enrollment form includes a start date (enrollment date) and end date (exit date). The combination of these two date fields indicate a client’s status in the program. A program enrollment with a start date and no end date is active, while a client with an end date was previously enrolled but is no longer active. The difference between these two dates calculates enrollment duration, which can be averaged across all enrollments in a date range. You can also create dynamic dashboards for active program rosters or standard report templates for clients enrolled within a user-defined date range.
Track status at enrollment and exit
Program enrollment forms are prime locations for pre- and post-assessments if assessments are made only at those two intervals. You can add questions to your enrollment form to both streamline data entry at enrollment and exit and expand reporting capabilities to include comparing, either quantitatively or qualitatively, responses to measure change between enrollment and exit.
Associate program activities by enrollment
If a client enrolls in more than one program, or enrolls in the same program more than once, use Apricot linking fields (or a dynamic dropdown) to associate specific program enrollments with the activities and services provided during enrollment. Without a link between records, you may not be able to report on activities (like case notes, attendance, assessments, or services) associated with a specific enrollment. With a linking field from activities back to a specific enrollment, you can organize activities completed during enrollment in Apricot reports.
4. Case plans, goals, and notes
Apricot’s flexibility to track and report on many data sets simultaneously makes it a great fit for case management programs and services. Once a database structure is in place for case management, multi-level reporting can show detailed and summarized data on the status, progress, and activity of a case.
Log and track case plans
Quantitative data in Apricot can produce metrics and analytics with calculations, formulas, and conditional logic, but some aspects of your services may require text-based input. Individual service plans, education plans, and other case plans can help case managers stay on track with the challenge areas, initial assessments, and goals of their clients. Document case plans in Apricot and refresh them as the case changes over time. Replace paper-based case plan tracking with electronic records in Apricot.
Track goals, goal status, and progress
Associate goals to your case plans and concentrate goal setting and goal tracking around your outcomes and domain areas. By tracking goal status and achievement by outcome and domain area you can easily report across your total population, even though the qualitative goals of each client may vary. You may even go beyond tracking status in Apricot to also track incremental progress toward goal achievement. You can even visually represent that progress for an individual client in a graph if your data entry inputs are scored with back-end values (a field option available in all Apricot systems).
Enter case notes and activities
Case notes and activities can be counted by client, date range, or program. A case manager can also reference a chronological history of notes and activities from the client’s specific document folder in Apricot or in a summary report. For situations where case notes contain protected health or counseling information, an administrator can set up user-specific restrictions on case notes with permission sets.
5. Assessments, scales, and scoring
Aggregating quantitative data into meaningful reports can be a challenge, especially if the source data is tracked in paper forms or disparate data systems. Your Apricot database and reporting platform makes quantitative analysis accessible to any user and can transform qualitative data entry into quantitative analytics without impacting the user experience for front-end data entry users.
Assessments that include scales and scoring can exist on enrollment, activity, or service forms, but they may be independent forms as well. Create an assessment with numeric or masked fields and calculate real-time scores on the form itself or in a report.
Masked values and calculations
Apricot software includes a palette of field options for scales and scoring. In addition to standard numeric fields, Apricot offers masked option fields like dropdowns, radio buttons, and likert scales which display a front-end text value, but also store a back-end numeric value. Combine masked option fields with calculation fields to create subtotals by section or totals from the entire assessment. Present the score on the form if a user needs immediate feedback on the outcome or aggregate the scores in a report for later analysis.
Compare pre- and post-assessments
Comparison reporting makes it easy to analyze client progress over time. Apricot uses the first or last created distinction to compare pre- and post-assessments. Calculation columns in reports will find incremental differences between pre- and post-assessments or you can graph progress in a chart. Take averages across your entire population or analyze the outcomes for a single client.
6. Releases and approvals
Clients may sign a host of agreements and approvals throughout their relationship with your organization. In addition, internal staff members may need to sign case note and service records and supervisors may need to sign off on funding requests and case closures. Apricot provides tools to streamline releases and approvals at all steps of your program or service workflow.
Attach Doc Field
In cases where signatures are captured on paper documents outside of Apricot, use the attach doc field to upload signature documents into Apricot. The attach doc field keeps all of the signature documents organized and easily accessible on a client’s record.
The Apricot signature field captures signatures within Apricot forms. Users can add a signature from desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and tablets. The signature field captures the signer’s name and automatically records the date, time, and user account used to access Apricot at the time of the signature. Service providers can have clients sign releases and approvals directly on the associated Apricot record, eliminating the need for paper forms.
Signature workflow reports
Nonprofit staff can track internal releases and approvals using the signature field in a dashboard report on the Apricot bulletin. For example, if a supervisor needs to sign off on funding requests, first create a report of all records that still need to be signed and then add it to a bulletin that is accessible by the supervisor. When the supervisor logs in to Apricot, they will see the list of documents awaiting their signature. By adding signatures to internal forms in Apricot, staff members can easily sign necessary documents without having to shuffle paper.
7. Referrals and community partners
You may work together with a network of partner organizations to coordinate resources and refer clients to a broad range of additional programs and services. Apricot can help organize the complex web of incoming and outgoing referrals to various community partners with email triggers, secure web forms, and partner agency profiles.
Apricot can efficiently send and capture referral data for analysis. With Apricot, you can create and send a referral directly to a partner agency via a client’s profile. A referral form with an email trigger field can automatically send details of a completed referral to a partner agency with a standard email that merges in referral details entered on a record (such as client name and reason for referral). By linking a community partner profile to the referral form, emails can be sent to the community partner’s pre-filled email addresses.
Using Apricot’s secure web form feature, you can receive incoming referrals from partner agencies and automatically add them to your database. Access to the web form can be provided to users outside of your organization either with a basic URL or a link embedded on your website. Users outside of your organization can complete the web form without having to sign in or access any other areas of your Apricot database. Once the referral is submitted, it can be linked to existing profiles or used to automatically populate data on new client profiles.
Community partner profiles
Create profiles for community partners in your Apricot database that link to incoming and outgoing referrals. By entering a community partner profile into Apricot, you only need to enter the contact details for that agency once. This same profile can then be linked to each client record associated with the agency, reducing duplicate data entry and organizing your data for accurate reporting. Visit a community profile to see a list of their incoming and outgoing referrals or create a report to count how many referrals were made or received by each agency.
8. Classes, workshops, and attendance
Workshops and classes may be provided as part of a suite of services within your programs. Tracking attendance is an important part of both data management and class management. Apricot offers three methods of tracking attendance to make data entry easy and accurate.
Single record creation
The simplest, but potentially most time-consuming, method of tracking attendance is to create individual attendance records in a client’s document folder. This method is best when you have a small number of attendees, attendance is tracked infrequently, or when attendance records will be unique for each client.
Batch record creation
With batch record creation, you can add the same attendance record for multiple client profiles at once. Since you can only create the exact same attendance record for each client (i.e. you cannot customize the records during the batch record creation process), this method works best when you need to add the same attendance details for multiple clients at once.
If you frequently need to add multiple attendance records at once, and the attendance records vary by client, consider using the registration grid. The registration grid organizes attendance records by day and attendee, which create individual attendance record in the client’s document folder. The registration grid may be the best option if you have multiple attendance records to create at once, but the attendance records need to be customized for each attendee, like adding specific attendance types (present, absent, excused, unexcused), hours present, or attendance notes.
9. Surveys and feedback
Surveys and feedback can be useful for measuring participant and constituent satisfaction. Apricot tools make gathering quality data for surveys simple and straightforward. With Apricot, you can aggregate and report on feedback about a particular service or broadly across an entire program.
Survey and feedback form options
Online survey and feedback forms have the same customization options as other Apricot forms. You can choose to have respondents identify themselves or remain anonymous, include both quantitative and qualitative questions, add open-ended text fields to solicit qualitative responses, and even automatically generate scores. Publish as a secure web form and you can easily distribute and collect responses without manual data entry or imports.
Apricot reporting can aggregate and organize survey and feedback data. Create a report that compiles responses to each item, group the report by response to generate percentages, and then add a graph to visualize the results. Reports can also compile qualitative responses for review by your team.
10. Volunteer management
Volunteers can be integral part of events, service delivery, and program engagement. However, the transient nature of volunteers can make volunteer management a chore. Volunteers have different skills, availability, and preferences that must all be taken into account. Apricot has the tools to help you quickly and accurately assess your volunteers.
Create volunteer profiles
Use Volunteer profiles in Apricot to track demographic and contact information, volunteer scheduling preferences, status (active, inactive, in training, etc.), and volunteer type or role (direct support, program assignment, etc.). If you want easy access to documentation for your volunteers, include Attach Doc fields on the profile so you can upload agreements, releases, and contact forms. With all this data in one place, you can easily search for volunteers by preference or availability when scheduling activities or assigning tasks.
You might also consider having volunteers create their own profile using a secure web form. Volunteers could then complete their own profiles directly from your website as part of the application process.
Track trainings and certifications
If volunteers need to attend training or receive certifications as part of their volunteer commitment with your organization, you can track trainings and certifications with dedicated forms in Apricot associated to the volunteer. The form can track which trainings and certifications have been completed and which are still needed. You can then set up dashboard reports to notify you when trainings or certifications have lapsed and need to be renewed.
Add volunteer activities
Track volunteer activities throughout their engagement with your organization using a form under the volunteer profile. Use an activity form to track events attended, services provided, hours volunteered, and more. You can also link the activity form to a specific client or event that is already tracked in your Apricot database. When it’s time to report on volunteer activities, you can aggregate data on amount and type of activities performed by volunteers.
Configure the best Apricot database for your nonprofit
Apricot offers flexible features and a scalable architecture to build a database application that matches your organization’s specific workflow and reporting requirements. Alignment of your Apricot with your people (i.e. users) and processes (i.e. program and service delivery) is an opportunity to save time on data entry, data management, and reporting.
It helps to have ideas and use cases like those suggested in this post to narrow Apricot’s possibilities down to the configuration that is the best fit for your organization.
As a new Apricot user, find the integration between your vision for Apricot and practical use cases that match your workflow and reporting requirements. If you are an existing user, identify gaps in your current Apricot configuration with use cases for improving user experience, streamlining workflows, and enhancing reporting.
Validating your vision for Apricot with practical use cases and functional examples will ensure you get the most from your Apricot software system.
About the Author
This guest post was authored by Sidekick Solutions. Sidekick Solutions is an independent software consulting firm and Social Solutions Certified Implementation Partner, specializing in Apricot database software. Sidekick Solutions helps new and existing Apricot users set up, streamline, and make the most of Apricot software with a range of professional services for implementation, reporting, consulting, data migration, and database audit/cleanup. To read more from Sidekick Solutions, check out their Apricot software blog.