TOC: Contacts | Contact Locations | Interactions | Interaction Definitions
Understanding Metrix Tables and Relationships
Most functionality in Metrix is dedicated to managing several types of data and the relationships between them. These are:
- Contact locations
To effectively implement and customize Metrix, it is important to understand the conceptual relationship between these tables and how they are implemented in Metrix.
Figure: Table Relationships in Metrix
A contact is any person, family, or organization connected in any way to the organization using Metrix. A contact could be a staff member, a volunteer, a client, a program participant, the family member of a participant, etc. A contact could also be a family, a vendor, a program partner, a media outlet, a donor organization, and so on. Each contact in the database is described by a contact record type. There are only three contact record types: indicidual, family, and organization. Every contact in the database must fit into one of these three categories.
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A contact location is the address, phone, fax, and email information for a contact. For example, all contact information for a contact's home is contained in one record, and the contact's work information is contained in another record.
In database terms, it can be said that there is a "one-to-many" relationship between Contacts and Contact Locations. This means that one contact can have many contact locations associated with it, or there could only be one location or even none. It is important to note that although a contact can have multiple contact locations, each contact location is given a contact location name that describes the location it is associated with, such as "home", "office", "school", etc. The list of contact location names is customizable. A contact can have multiple contact locations with the same contact location name.
It is important to note that although a contact can have multiple contact locations, a single contact location can have only one address, phone number, and email address associated with it. In practical terms, this means that if you want to add (for example) a second phone number to a contact location, you must add an additional contact location for that contact to contain the phone number.
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An Interaction can be used to describe any relationship, transaction, or communication between a contact and the organization using Metrix. Interactions can describe truly interactive events, such as when a contact attends an annual meeting or performs volunteer service, but they can also be used to describe more abstract things, such as the role a contact serves for the organization, or a donor profile. In fact, any piece of information you want to use to describe a contact, if it is not part of the contact record or the contact location record, can be stored as an Interaction.
In database terms, the relationship between contacts and Interactions is "one-to-many": one contact can have zero or more Interactions associated with it. A single Interaction can be associated with only one contact.
Interactions that rely only on the default Metrix Interaction fields can be described as "basic" Interactions, whereas those that require custom tables can be described as "custom" Interactions. Custom Interactions are what allow Metrix to track virtually any type of relationship with contacts. For more information about custom Interactions, please see Planning Custom Interactions.
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Every Interaction is associated with an Interaction Definition. An Interaction Definition describes an Interaction. In many ways, it can be thought of as an Interaction's type. For example, an Interaction Definition might be "Attended staff meeting." The associated Interaction would contain fields such as "meeting date," "meeting subject," and "meeting location." Or, for example, an Interaction Definition might be "Volunteer Profile," and the associated Interaction would have fields such as "skill", "availability", "sign-up date", and so on.
Interaction Definitions can be categorized within Metrix so that similar Interactions are grouped together. For instance, you might have a "Volunteer" category that contains Interaction Definitions such as "Volunteer Profile", "Volunteer Service", and "Volunteer Evaluation." Categorizing Interaction Definitions serves at least two purposes: they will be grouped together in the user interface, and their categories can be used to form queries and reports (e.g., "show all Interactions whose Interaction Definitions are in the "Volunteers" category).
In database terms, there is a "one-to-many" relationship between Interaction Definitions and Interactions: one Interaction Definition can have zero or more Interactions associated with it. An Interaction must have one (and only one) associated Interaction Definition.
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