Setting yourself up for success on Airtable

Hooray and welcome to Airtable! We can’t wait to see what you create. But first, let’s walk through some best practices to help your team get the most out of working in Airtable. 

Getting started with Airtable

Airtable helps teams of all sizes streamline processes by building powerful, custom apps that transform their work—all without a single line of code. Since it’s so customizable, Airtable looks different across teams, industries, company sizes, and more. Because of this, the way you set up Airtable could look different from what you see in this guide or on a coworker’s screen, and that’s okay. There’s no wrong way to use Airtable, and trying it out for yourself is often the best way to experience what’s possible.

👀 Looking forward

Once you’re up and running, we’re excited to see what you do: We’ve seen teams do everything from building powerful workflows that help them get products to market faster to building custom apps for their teams. 

As we go through this guide, we’ll help you build your first workflow in Airtable. We’ll also show you how to bring together your data, our powerful features, and custom interfaces to build your very own app (without needing an engineering degree).

Identifying your first workflow 

Before you start, let’s take a few moments to make sure you have a clear idea of the problem you’re solving with Airtable. If you already have a use case in mind, you can skip ahead to defining your goal.

What types of projects or processes work well in Airtable?

Airtable is extremely flexible, so really anything that involves working with information can be improved when it’s brought into Airtable. You can pick a brand-new workflow that doesn’t exist yet, or a weekly process you’ve been running for years with room for improvement. You might even pick a new cross-functional initiative that requires coordination across teams and processes.

Here are a few examples that make for a great first workflow:

How do people use Airtable?

How do people use Airtable?

Strong use cases for Airtable: Centralized product roadmap Content operations, calendaring, feedback, and approvals Storing and leveraging key customer informationWild, surprising, and fantastic use cases: Organizing volunteers to fight Covid-19 Things to do and see in Colorado Tracking past startup pitch decks

We could go on and on about ways to use Airtable, but rather than listing hundreds of use cases, we think it’s best to outline which workflows work well in Airtable (and which don’t):

Works well in Airtable

Not a great fit for Airtable

Multiple people (collaborators, clients, etc.) working together, especially those where stakeholders need varying levels of information Work that is best performed within a spreadsheet (for example, complex formulas to manipulate financial data)
Recurring processes that involve manual updates Workflows that involve a single person who isn’t sharing updates, like building your career plan
Cross-functional initiatives that require everyone to be in syncDocumenting static workflows

Defining your goal 

Before you start working on your processes in Airtable, take a moment to identify its objective and related context. This will help you decide which information to bring into Airtable, as well as help you measure your future successes.

⚡ Airtable tip

Need help defining your goal? We’ve got you covered. Try writing out what you want to do, when you expect to do it, and how you’ll measure success. Put simply:

We want to _______, when we’re _______, so we can _______.  

One example could be a marketing team that wants to automate approvals when they’re planning campaigns so they can speed up time-to-market. 

Another example might be a product team that wants to align on objectives when they’re doing strategic planning so they can improve team efficiency.

Map out your workflow 

Whether you’re choosing an ongoing project or process or something brand-new, sketch out your ideal state to move your work from kickoff to completion. This will help streamline getting your project up and running in Airtable.

📝 Side note: Ideal is the key word here. If your current process has room for improvement, map your ideal workflow rather than what exists today. 

Stakeholders

If you work with a team, your workflow doesn’t just involve information, it involves people. Write down the people involved at different parts of your project. If you’ve already identified a few team members to help build your workflow in Airtable, go ahead and add them as collaborators (give these co-creators access as editors, since they’re helping you build). 

We’ll get into best practices for inviting the rest of your team, including various roles and permissions you can use, in an upcoming guide. 

Milestones 

Next, map out the key steps in your workflow. For each step, include the information collected and where the information lives. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • What are the key steps in the workflow?

  • What information is needed to begin? 

  • Does anyone need to review or approve along the way?  

  • How is work delivered or shipped? 

For example, say you are developing your process for managing inventory. The key steps are:

Looking ahead: building your first base

Now that you’ve selected your workflow and have a plan, we’re ready for the fun part. If you haven’t already, create a workspace and invite collaborators who will help build your workflow in Airtable.

Next, we’ll walk you through how to set up your base and start working in Airtable. Let’s go! 

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