Introduction to Relatics 6 – Walkthrough main features

If you are reading this, congratulations! You have been granted access to your very own Relatics environment. We are proud to support you in your journey to gain insight into the complexity of your project. Whether it is Requirement analysis, Stakeholder management, Verifications or Risk Management, Relatics is here to help you find the answers to the questions you have.

Of course, your Relatics consultants are ready to help you in developing a robust and accurate model for your project. But if your hands are itching to give Relatics a spin before that time, this quick-start guide will help you hit the ground running in using Relatics on your project. With this quick-start guide comes a pre-configured example workspace. This workspace shows what a Systems Engineering model may look like and is meant as inspiration/practice for configuring your own workspace. Contact your accountmanager to receive a copy of this workspace.

So where do we go from here? This quick-start guide is built up in two parts. In the first part, Relatics will be introduced from the perspective of an end-user. Topics include creating and relating Elements, filling out fields and working with the different views in Relatics. The second part delves deeper into Power User functionalities such as creating new Type Elements and defining relations between them.

This quick-start guide describes the bundled workspace you have received. This is an example workspace that is meant to be just that, an example to gain some inspiration. It has a generic model that, while based on real-life use cases, will not follow your work process. This workspace will show off the key features of Relatics and nothing more than that; for your own workspace, we urge you to start with a workspace from scratch.

Expect to spend somewhere between one and three hours to go through this quick-start guide including exercises, depending on your experience with Relatics. It helps to have some sort of interest in IT, modeling and/or Systems Engineering; and of course, it helps to be curious about Relatics 6. In most sections you will find some blocks with short exercises to illustrate the point being made. These are designed to help you get up to speed in Relatics as quickly as possible.

Relatics also has a built-in help functionality. The help is designed to give you technical support and explanations for specific functionalities in Relatics, and is opened by clicking Help () in the top right corner of Relatics.

Disclaimer: this quick-start guide is based on Relatics version 6.1. Screenshots, instructions, and exercises may deviate from the most recent version of Relatics. In case you have questions about using Relatics, or in case you experience hiccups in the software, do not hesitate to contact our support team or your account manager.

First steps as a regular user

When you access the workspace, you see the list of Type Elements on the left. You probably recognize a couple of these from your SE projects.

Click on a Type Element and an adjacent overview with All Elements will open. As the name suggests, All Elements lists you All Elements of a certain Type. This overview shows some basic information to recognize individual Elements, such as Name or Requirement title. Typically, an overview discloses ID’s.

When you click on such an ID, for example on the first Requirement’s ID “REQ-1”, another pane opens on the righthand side.

This pane is called the Details View and shows all the detailed information about an Element.

At the top, the Details contains a Property table showing the Properties of the clicked Element. A Property of an Element can be understood as a cell in which a user can enter information.

Furthermore, the Details contains a Relation table for each Relation the Element has with other Elements. By creating and adjusting these relations a project team manages to capture the complexity of the project. Once the workspace contains all relevant relations, the project team can react or even anticipate on changes in requirements, constraints, legislation, environmental conditions etc.

All Elements, properties and relations together are called the SE-model and dictate the functionality that the workspace offers.

Arranging Menu and Details

To keep overview in your Workspace, the Type Element list can be grouped and sorted with the Edit Type List option.

The Detail View can also be organized according to your needs with Section Control. Both these functions are only available to Power Users and will be covered later on in this quick-start guide.

Introducing the toolbox

Controls to enter and modify project information are offered in the form of the so called “Toolbox”. This toolbox is dynamic; depending on the context – ‘the spot’ where you are working-, the functionality that the toolbox offers will vary. The design and operation of the toolbox is compatible with touchscreens.

The toolbox appears when standing on a cell; with the buttons in it you can execute different actions. For example, to paste data from your clipboard you stand on the cell and click the paste button, to create a relation between two Elements you click the select button and a selection pop-up screen opens. Hover over the buttons to see what their function is. The toolbox is referenced throughout this quick-start guide, so you get ample opportunity to familiarize yourself with it.

Focus on relations

As its name already suggests, Relatics has a heavy focus on relations. To enter and manipulate these relations, Relatics offers a smart, innovative control called the “Relatable Elements” pane. To create relations, you can copy or drag Elements from this pane to the Overview or a table in the Details.

In this example the pane was opened by clicking on the highlighted button of the Relation table “Has source Documents” on the Details of a Requirement.

Double click as shortcut

The “Selectable Elements” pane might be a bit overwhelming, especially in cases where you already know in advance which Elements to relate. As an alternative, you can double click a document icon. This will open a such called Selection popup with checkboxes to relate Elements.

Creating an element

One of the core actions in Relatics is creating a brand-new Element. Go to Requirements and click on any icon in the All Elements view. The icon will be circled, and the ‘Create’ button will appear in the toolbox. Click on it, and a new, empty Requirement appears. In the respective fields you can add the necessary information such as Title, Requirement Text and status.

There is also a way to create Elements in bulk. At the bottom of All Elements you can find an empty row; this is called the Ghost Row. When standing on the Ghost Row, you can easily fill in multiple Elements after one another, or paste a range of information from another source.

Exercise
Create a new Requirement and fill in the identifying fields.

Filter & sort

In any table, whether on the All Elements or Detail View, you can sort and filter your data. Hover over a column header, and the Sort and Filter buttons will appear. Multiple filters and sorting can be applied at the same table. As an example, if you would like to see only and all Requirements that Amelia Jones is responsible for, you would click on Filter in the column header and select Amelia Jones. The table will be filtered to only show Amelia’s Requirements.

There is also another way of viewing Amelia’s Requirements. Navigate to Persons and click on Amelia Jones. On the Detail View you can see the requirements Amelia is responsible for.

Exercise
Go to Requirement Analysis and filter the Requirements in such a way that you get all Requirements that have a responsible Person.

Treeviews

Lists are not the only way in which Relatics can show data. For hierarchical structures, Relatics also possesses the ability to show a tree view.

This is best demonstrated with the Type Element Objects. Click on it, and at the top, next to All Elements, you will find the tab Treeview. With the pointers in front of every Object instance, you can further fold or unfold the tree. Click on an Object and in the toolbox, you can find two buttons to create a new Object. “Create Root” creates a new Object on the top level, while “Create Child” creates a new Object underneath another one. By dragging and dropping you can further customize and reposition your Elements within the tree.

Exercise
Create a new Object and position it under an existing Object.

History & indicators

The power of Relatics is that all project information is stored centrally in one Workspace, providing a single source of truth. Project members all work in the same Workspace, with the same information. Amongst many, one benefit of this is the ability to reliably track changes.

Let’s say someone changed the Status of a Requirement to ‘Not applicable. You can easily find out who made this change and when, by looking at the History of that Requirement. If you click on History at the bottom of the Detail View, a Log opens with the changes made to this Requirement over time.

Because of this change in the Requirement’s Status, other users will be notified of this change by showing an indicator on the icon of the Type Element. This is done for all changes to Elements, so that users don’t miss out any change in the project’s information.

If users have taken notion of the changes, they can clear them by clicking the “Clear indicators” button in the upper right corner.

Exercise
Open a Requirement and change the status and the responsible Person. Observe your changes in the History.

Empowering the Power User

Expanding your model

Defining a Type Element

A Type Element is created on the left-hand side of the application. Creating one is fairly simple: click on the three dots on top of the Type Element list and select “New type Element”. A screen will open with a few settings; here you define a singular name, plural name, and an abbreviation.

Additionally, an icon can be selected. When you click on “Create”, a new Type Element appears in the list. With the “Edit Type list” option this new Type Element can be repositioned, if needed. To order the Type Elements, you eventually can make use of Sections, that can be added through “Edit Type list”.

Exercise
We would like to keep track of meetings. Define a new Type Element named “Meeting”. Choose an appropriate icon and abbreviation, and position the new Type Element under the section “Other”.

Defining a property

The same principles apply to creating a new Property. This is also done from the Type Elements list, by hovering over a Type Element and clicking on the three dots that appear (“Open Menu”). If “New Type Property” is clicked, a screen will pop up where the settings of a property can be defined. For now, the tab “General” suffices. If the name of the Property is defined, a Data Type is assigned, and the “Create” button is hit, a new property appears on the Detail View of that Element.

Exercise
We would like to record the date of a Meeting. Add a “Date” property with the Data Type ‘Date’.

We also would like to record Notes of a meeting. Add a “Notes” property with Data Type ‘Text’.

Lastly, change the ‘Name’ property to ‘Subject’.

Defining a Type Relation between two Type Elements

The last building block of your model is Relations. Relations allow you to link two Elements together; what this Relation means, is up to you. Previously we explained how to create a Relation between two Elements, but how do you define this Relation in your model?

This is again done in the Type Elements list by clicking the three dots on a Type Element and selecting “New Type relation”. Similar to defining a Property, a settings screen pops up where a new Type Relation can be defined. The fields on the tab General are mandatory.

Exercise
We would like to link Actions to the Meeting that it originates in. Add a new Type Relation (single) from “Action” to “Meeting”. Make sure to name the relation appropriately.

In addition, add a relation from “Action” to “Person” to indicate the responsible Person for an Action.

Controlling views

Relatics is a single point of truth, where information is unambiguously recorded and stored. Everyone looks at the same Elements. If a change is made all users see this change in real-time. However, not All Elements are the same, and not everyone looks at the Elements the same way. A Risk manager looks at Requirements in a different way that a Tender manager does, even though they look at and work with the same Requirements. Therefore, the options to adjust views are very powerful. They allow you to show exactly the information you need depending on the situation. This section will focus on the different options there are to adjust the views on your project information.

Adjusting All Elements

Every Type Element in the model has a Main view. This view acts like a default for all places where Elements of this Type are shown, such as All Elements or tables representing relations. Concretely, this means that on the Detail Page of an Object, the Requirements table will be shown as configured on All Elements.

Some Elements need a lot of information in the Main View such as dates, statuses, and responsible persons. This information needs to be visible immediately, so it is disclosed in All Elements. For other Elements, a Title or a Requirement text suffices on the main view; the rest of the relations and properties can be accessed via the Detail View. But how do you adjust these views according to your wishes? For this, we use the Model Selector.

Using the Model Selector

You can compare the Model Selector to the File Explorer on your computer. Where the File Explorer navigates you through your folders and files, the Model Selector navigates you through your model.

You start off with the Type Element you want to expand on and select the fields you want shown. You follow relations and with every Type Element you select which fields you want to have shown.

Example: Requirements with stakeholders and Status, and Organisation.

My View

As the name suggests, My View is a personal view of a Type Element. My View is customized exactly the same way as All Elements: by using the model selector.

All Elements is the default table that everyone sees, the starting point of working with an Element. However, there are many cases where you need a different view to do your work, without this view appearing to every user. My View can individually and exclusively be configured by the user itself. That means that users can create their own My View per Type Element.

Example: You want to see all Requirements with their Objects and associated Risks for a temporary need. This is not a combination that one might use often, so it is not desirable to have this on All Elements. Therefore, a user composes this individually on My View.

Exercise
We would like to have insight in Objects and their associated Risks. Compose an overview of all Objects, their Risks and mitigating Control Measures in My View.

Use cases

What if you find yourself composing the same My View over and over again? What if you are not the only one needing a certain My View? Fear not, for these situations Use Cases exist. Use Cases appear as additional tabs after All Elements and My View. A Power User can configure these, and they will be accessible to all users.

Example: Requirement Analysis. This is something that happens on more than one occasion and by more than one user. However, this is not something you want to have on the first view when you open a Type Element. Therefore, for this we create a Use Case.

Detail View

When viewing the details of an instance, the default order of properties and relations is simply the order in which they are added to the model. Fortunately, it is possible to restructure the detail page through sections.

By dragging and dropping it is possible to reorder the properties and relations on a detail page.

You can also group relations by sections. When a new section is added, it will be visible in the top row of the Detail View. By clicking on it, it will take you directly to that section.

Derived Elements

Act as Inner Element

An extra setting for Elements is to let them “Act as inner Element“, which can be set by the setting of the same name. With inner Elements, you’re not interested in a menu item nor in All Elements view. Furthermore, incoming relations to this Element are not allowed. In other words, these Elements mainly exist inside the context of the Element that it’s derived from.

An example of an inner Element in our workspace are Causes of a Risk. Take notice of the lack of a corresponding menu item and the behaviour of Causes both within Risks.

Exercise
We would like to register Consequences to a Risk. Create a “Consequence” type Element, that can describe the consequences per Risk. Make sure it behaves as an inner derived Element.

Hint: This is done by clicking the “New derived element” option on Risks.

Hierarchical & Treeview

Look at Work Packages and Activities. In Systems Engineering terms, an Activity is part of a Work Package and can’t exist on its own. Because of that, in the menu, you can find the Activities indented under Work Packages. So, Activities are exclusively derived from Work Packages.

This is done by a clicking the “New derived element” option.” This works similar as “Defining a Type Element”.

By these settings, Activities can be created within a Work Package instead of selecting them. In other words, an Activity is exclusively managed within a Work Package.

To be able to manage the above example in an hierarchy, the “Hierarchical” setting on the Activity Type Element is checked. This is an extension to the derived behaviour of the Activity Element.

As a result, Relatics also provides a treeview to visualize and manage the Activities and Work Packages intuitively.

Recursive hierarchy

Consider Object Breakdown Structure (SBS, Objects tree) and the hierarchical behavior between the Objects. To achieve this, a relation from Object to itself (a recursive relation) is required. The Object Element’s Configuration setting must be set to “Derived”. Besides the Hierarchical behavior setting must be checked.

As a result, on the overview pane an extra tab is shown on the left of the All Elements tab, presenting the SBS.

Furthermore, all selections of Objects are enriched with a selectable SBS.

Positioning

By default, Relatics sorts nodes in a treeview by ID. To let users decide positions of Objects in a treeview themselves, the Element’s Positioning setting must be checked.

Consequently, users can drag & drop an Object around the SBS. Additionally, they can use the toolbox in the overview pane to move an Element up or down (in this case, Work Packages).

Middle Elements

Suppose we want to trace for which Objects a Requirement was verified. A straightforward solution would be to have a relation “is verified” between Requirement and Object. However, there are two problems with this solution:

  • You want to register when the verification was executed and upload files as proof of the verification.
  • You want the same Requirement to be verified against the same Object at different phases of the project.

Therefore, we need a “richer” model. A such called middle Element is defined for verification.

This provides extra behaviour of the Relatics software.

On the left-hand side of the Verification overview, a grey margin appears that shows per Requirement which Objects to verify. As usual, you can create, edit or delete Verifications in the usual part (recognizable by the usual white background colour) of the table.

To see what makes a middle Element special compared to an “ordinary” Element, you can access the settings of the Type Element.

Similar to a derived Element, a middle Element has an origin relation. At that, a middle Element has a target relation. These two relations place Verification in the middle between Requirement and Object.

After leaving the Settings, notice that Verifications is available in the Type menu indented under Requirements as well as under Objects. Both give access to an overview of all Verifications but affect how the Verifications are ordered in the overview. First by Object then by Requirement or vice versa.

Verification is not the only possible application of middle Elements. Other examples are:

  • Specification (with Property “Amount”) between Room and Furniture
  • Interface (with Property “Description”) between Internal object and Environmental object
  • Delivery (with Property “Date”) between Article and Supplier
  • Source reference (with Property “Page number”) between Requirement and Document

Creating output for external use

Excel output

With all project information at your fingertips, it is important to be able to share it with the outside world. Relatics offers several possibilities for that, including generating Excel files from overview tables.

On top of all overviews, a button is available to export the information to Excel that is shown on your screen at that moment. That means that sorting and filtering is also applied to the dataset that is exported.

Exercise
We would like to inspect the Requirement Analyses more in detail. Export the use case Requirement Analyses to Excel, and open the downloaded file.

Predefined documents

Imagine you want to send a predefined PDF document with all requirements and related objects.

Relatics provides the possibility to generate such documents. You can create a template in Word according to your company’s identity, including project information from Relatics in the right places. This Word document can be uploaded in Relatics as a Report template.

If you click on the Report menu in the most left menu bar, you find an example. To generate the report, just hover over the row with the report and click on the Generate report button.

If you want to be able to post-process generated documents, you can also choose to generate .docx formatted Word-documents.

Workflow

Draft and final state

When certain project information is subject to change, you want to be able to mark this information as such. Relatics offers a setting on property values that allows you to differentiate between draft and final state. Values in draft state can be freely edited, unlike values in final state. This is often useful to evolve a concept requirement to an approved one. Click on a requirement to open the Detail View and open the settings of the “Text” property. On the Advanced tab the box to “Enable draft state” is checked to force this behavior.

Auto archiving

In some cases, when Elements have reached the end of their lifecycle, they are less relevant for the project. In that case, project information might get contaminated, because the still relevant information gets drowned in the abundance of less relevant information. That’s where the auto archive feature comes in. One of the important consequences of this is that, by default, a user is not confronted with archived Elements. This is useful in case of both viewing and relating Elements.

For example, closed Activities or cancelled Requirements have less value in the context of project’s information. If you want these kinds of Elements to be hidden by default, you can set the Element’s life cycle property.

In the Elements pane, open the Settings menu of the Activity Type Element. On the Advanced tab, you can see that the field “Life cycle property” is set to Status with the “Use auto archive” box check. Below is specified by what value(s) it is distinguished.

By these settings the All Elements tab of Activities is filtered from Elements with closed Activities, showing the live population. Users can choose whether they see the live population, archived or mixed view of these Elements.

Furthermore, when you edit the status of an Activity, the value that auto archiving is based on is marked.

Exercise
We would like to auto-archive Requirements that are not applicable anymore. Activate Auto-Archiving, based on the Status value “Not applicable”.

Mandatory properties and relations

Click on the Actions menu and notice the Quality violations showing an indicator. This means that within our population of Actions, some information is not meeting the model requirements. If you click the Quality violations icon, you find a list of violation categories and when you choose one, the All Elements view is filtered to just those violating Actions.

Relatics doesn’t immediately force you to add mandatory information for properties or relations according to the model requirements, but it helps you to assure the quality of your project information by continuously comparing it to the model requirements.

Open the detail page of a random Action and open the settings of the “Title” Property. On the Advanced tab, note the “Value of property” set to “required”. For both properties and relations, you can set them mandatory (required).

Exercise
We would like to intercept Actions without a Responsible Person. Set the relation between an Action and its responsible Person to mandatory and see if there are any violating Actions by checking the Quality Violations.

Calculations

In some cases, you want to have a value being calculated, based on other values. For example, a Risk score is calculated from its probability, financial impact and impact on planning.

In the workspace you find an example of this situation. In the Detail View of a Risk you find the property Score, which is a calculated property, based on three other properties. Click on the three dots next to the Score property to see the settings of it.

Take notice of the formula syntax that represents the calculation.

Users specify Probabilities by nominal values such as High, Low, etc. To evaluate the Score however, Relatics needs numeric input. This numeric input is provided by the Factor attribute that assigns a number to each List value of the Probability property. This Factor represents the numeric value of a chosen textual value for Probability. This is all set within the Probability property, to be found in the settings. Because of this, in the example above, the formula refers to the numeric Factor of the Probability property.

What’s next?

Involve other team members
If you have made it this far, you possess a good foundation to work with Relatics. Teamwork makes the dream work, so the last topic covered is how to add colleagues to your project. We do this in the Environment administration.

Go to the main menu, and in the top-right you can find the Environment Administration. Under the menu Users you can create and invite new users to your environment.

Click on New User and fill in your colleagues information. Click on Create, and your colleague will be invited to Relatics.

After creating a new colleague, he or she also needs to be granted access to the workspace. You can do this by clicking on the newly created user. On the Workspace Access table you can select the workspaces the user should have access to. Additionally, for every workspace you can assign whether they should have User or Power User rights.

Exercise
Create an account for a colleague, add them to the workspace and grant them Power User rights.

Just the tip of the iceberg
The goal of this quick-start guide and the workspace it accompanies is to give you a brief introduction of the Relatics software. However, Relatics possesses way more possibilities than we are able to cover here. If you are excited to dive further into Relatics, some topics we would like to highlight are:

  • Interfaces with external applications (SharePoint, others)
  • Adding project information from Excel
  • User Roles within a Workspace
  • Admin functions

If you would like to read up on these topics, and others, you can search for them in the Help, or contact our support team. Furthermore, we also offer Relatics training. For information on this, contact your account manager.

Relatics is the leading Model-Based Systems Engineering software application for construction projects. It is the comprehensive tool that gives professionals access to all project information and offers insight into the growing number of dependencies between all disciplines in today’s projects.

The aim of this quick-start guide is to give you a brief introduction of the Relatics 6 software. Should you wish to proceed with Relatics 6 on your own projects and require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our consultants are ready to provide you with the support you need.

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