Thijs Mathot of Relatics
Many great people choose to cowork with us at the Network Hub and our Friend Friday series aims to highlight some of these great entrepreneurs, startups and small business folks. Today, we take the chance to talk with Thijs Mathot from Relatics.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
On large engineering projects (for example projects in construction, mining, oil and gas, shipbuilding, manufacturing) mistakes are made because team members are missing important information or are using wrong or outdated information. Examples of such mistakes are forgotten user requirements, missing permits, noncompliance with important regulations, working from an old drawing etcetera. Correcting these mistakes during or even after completion of the project is usually very expensive. Relatics is an online information management platform that project teams can use to prevent these kinds of mistakes. We license our software; we provide training and have experienced consultants that help you to implement Relatics in your project organization.
What makes your company different or special?
It is general knowledge that these kinds of mistakes are made on engineering projects and that they are caused by having important information like requirements, risks, change orders, drawings, a decision log etcetera scattered over different word files and excel lists. However, upgrading to a more integral and controlled information management system is not often done because it is a very big and risky step to take. Relatics has four characteristics that take the common hurdles away and have enabled our clients to take that next step to reduce the risk of failure costs:
- Flexibility: One of the reasons so much information is described in excel files despite the obvious disadvantages is that the end user can start a new list for whatever he wants, add a column or remove a sheet whenever he wants, he determines what his ‘information management system’ looks like. Relatics offers this same flexibility to the end user. The result is that organizations can simply start using Relatics within a couple of days, expand and modify their system on the go while they learn and adapt to changing situations. This significantly reduces the risk and cost of implementing a new system.
- Transparency: Because the user determines the definition of the information model, and the consistent interface is adjusted accordingly, users know and understand exactly what information they are looking at when using Relatics. This provides a really transparent user experience and gives a lot of confidence in the system, which in turn is essential for a successful implementation.
- Simplicity: the system is extremely consistent and simple. Everyone, from project secretary, engineer to project manager can work with Relatics within five minutes. The result is that 98% of team members use Relatics on our projects. They are all collaborating with the same information because it really helps them to be more efficient and to prevent mistakes.
- Collaboration focused: To make sure everybody has easy access to Relatics from all involved organizations, Relatics is completely web based. Combined with easily configurable processes, user rights, personal to do lists and status overviews Relatics really helps your team to collaborate more effectively.
How did you get started?
The Dutch Ministry of infrastructure was building a new tunnel, the Westerschelde tunnel, and could no longer prove that the tunnel complied with all requirements, regulations and permit conditions. The developed solution was what later became Relatics. Over the last three years this system is developed into what it is today and usage has seen very rapid growth across Europe. Many multi-billion dollar projects like the new Gotthard base tunnel and the expansion of the port of Rotterdam use Relatics. Following this rapid growth in Europe we moved to North America last October with our new branch in Vancouver.
What are you currently working on?
The funny thing is that growth in Europe has happened sort of by itself. On the large projects that we target there are usually many different parties involved. If only one of them introduces Relatics on the project, the rest will end up working with it and discovering its advantages first hand. On their next project they contact us to inquire about the possibilities. For this reason our strategy in North America is focused on getting a couple of large reference projects started on Relatics, expecting it to result in the same kind of automatic growth. We are currently in different stages of trials at various projects in different industries.
What made you decide to cowork at The Network Hub?
Since I came over from our Dutch office on my own, it was nice to be around other people that I can ask for advice and go for lunch with. On top of that, The Network Hub is really well organized and Minna and John have always made sure that we have a pleasant and effective working environment.
Any advice you have for other entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Given the fact that I am a mere employee and not an entrepreneur, I don’t think I am in the position to give them much advice. Except maybe for the people in our office: it is also important to stop working and unwind once in a while, especially on Friday afternoons. So join us on the sunny office patio for a beer at 5.