Configuring relationships

Another tool AbleOrganizer offers that is valuable to organizers is relationships. This tool allows you to track the connections that exist between two or more contacts, and visualize the information in meaningful ways. You will want to take the time to understand the relationships that can be tracked out of the box, and to consider adding others that can be useful in tracking contacts.

A few things to understand about relationships and how they are managed in AbleOrganizer:
  • The software supports multiple relationship types. You can create new relationship types through the web-based adminstrative interface.
  • Relationships can be associated with specific contact types. For instance, you can tell the system that individuals can be friends of other individuals, but not of organizations.
  • Relationships can be directional. This means you can create a reverse direction relationship when a relationship is being created. 
  • The relationships that are supplied by default with the system are examples for your own use. You can use them as-is, configure them to work in ways appropriate for your organization, or add entirely new ones.

Working with relationship types

AbleOrganizer provides a web-based administrative interface for managing relationship types. You can access it within the admin section of the website, which will give you access to qa list of all the relationships that are configured, along with controls for editing them and creating new ones. 

The relationships that ship with AbleOrganizer include the following:

  • Employee, which refers to an individual who works for an organization.
  • Friend, which refers individuals who are friends with each other.
  • Member, which refers to individuals who are members of a household.

Creating new relationship types

AbleOrganizer includes tools that allow you to create your own relationship types.

When creating a relationship, you simply need to click the link to add a new relationship on the relationship administration page of your website. This will allow you to give the relationship a name, using labels that explain the relationship. From there, you need to answer some questions about the relationship you are creating:

  • Is this relationship one-directional (or is it reciprocal)? For instance, if contact A is connected to contact B through a friend relationship, does that mean contact B is a friend of contact A? Check the box labelled 'Directional' if the relationship should be reciprocal between both parties.
  • Is the relationship limited to a specific contact type? For instance, does contact A have to be an organization to be an office of contact B? Select contact types from the list if you want to limit the relationship to certain contact types.

Best practices for relationship types

Relationships can be used to reflect any connection between contacts. A member of an organization, a pair of friends, people living in a house together, these are all legitimate relationships.

Relationships are typically not used to reflect segments within a set of contacts. A list of VIPs, a group of enthusiastic supporters, a cluster of reporters. These typically would not be considered relationships as there is not a connection between the contacts themselves.

It's usually a good idea to write down the meaning of relationships when they are being configured and sharing your notes with other people in your organization. On the one hand, this ensures a common meaning between everyone who will be maintaining the system. On the other hand, there might be some important relationship types you haven't thought of, but which are obvious to others.