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Why Airtable?

Hello and welcome to Airtable’s guide to getting started! If you’re wondering how or even if your team should use Airtable, what makes it different from a spreadsheet, or what a “low-code platform” means, then this guide is for you. We’ll walk you through everything you could possibly need to know about Airtable, including answering one big question…

What is Airtable? 

In short, Airtable is a platform that makes it easy to build powerful, custom applications. These tools can streamline just about any process, workflow, or project—and best of all, you can build them without ever learning to write a single line of code. (Spoiler alert: that’s what low-code/no-code is all about.) Our customers use Airtable to do everything from tracking job interviews to managing large-scale video production, and thousands of companies use Airtable to run their most important business processes every day. 

So how does one platform help accomplish all that? At its core, Airtable allows you to easily create a database that holds the information that matters for your work, then use it to power the visualizations, processes, and integrations that make up a custom application that’s truly unique to you. We know that “building an application” can sound like a tall order, but we promise that with this guide, a little effort, and Airtable, you’ll be creating your own tool in no time. 

We’ll get into more details below, but here’s a glimpse of what’s possible with Airtable:

  • Manage your work from end to end: Not only can you use Airtable to track all information around your goals and objectives, but you can also connect it to your other tools to automate highly tactical actions like publishing a tweet or sending an email update.

  • Quickly generate polished, ready-to-share visuals: Once your information is in Airtable, you can easily visualize your data, whether you want to use a Gantt chart to see how your project milestones line up or spin up a quick graph to analyze performance of your marketing campaigns.

  • Give stakeholders the context they need: Bring together information from multiple sources so that everyone is working from the latest version. Then, sort, filter, and rearrange your data to create custom entry points to share with your teammates and partners—so they each have the information they need, in the way that works best for them. sort, filter, and rearrange your data to create custom entry points to share with your teammates and partners—so they each have the information they need, in the way that works best for them.

Normally, if you wanted to create an application on your own, you’d need a slew of software engineers  and a lot of time. But when you’re building in Airtable, you’re taking advantage of a flexible and powerful database that was built from the ground up to cater to your most complex and specific workflows. You’re the one who knows those workflows best, and that’s why with Airtable, you get total control over the application you’re building, software engineer or not.

So what exactly is a database? 

You’ve probably heard of databases before, but unless you’ve worked with them (which used to require technical skills), you may not be familiar with why databases are powerful. 

A database stores information around specific items such as projects, customers, or even products. You can capture and organize details about each of those items—similar to the way you might enter data in a spreadsheet or another tool. Where Airtable differs is that you can easily manipulate how you view that data with just a few clicks, now that your information is in a database.

Create a single source of truth, updated in real time  

Many processes break down when people are required to update the same information in multiple places. This not only leads to frustration and misalignment, but also keeps your team from doing impactful work.

With Airtable, you can centralize all relevant details by syncing information from different tools and systems like Jira, Box, Salesforce, and more. And you can rest easy knowing that when your team has an update, it’s shared instantly with those who need it.

For example, if your product team is keeping track of progress in a “Roadmap” base, their partners can automatically access the most up-to-date version. This allows cross-functional teams like marketing or customer support to move related content and campaigns forward based on the latest update—without waiting for a weekly status meeting or an email. That way, your team is making decisions based on information as it changes in real time, not hours or even days later.

Quickly get—and share—critical info

Your team can get stuck spending time creating, drafting, and editing dashboards and presentations. And, by the time they’re ready to present, the data has changed.

You can create tailored dashboards in Airtable that automatically pull in the latest information from all your data sources. For you and your team, you might use customized views like calendar, kanban, or Gantt to surface relevant information for the team to take action on. And for your executives, you can use apps to create a dashboard with real-time charts and summaries, and beautiful reports that show the most relevant information.

Continuing with the roadmap example, your team can work from a Gantt view to ensure that all your product milestones are aligned. Then, you can create a status updates dashboard to share with leadership that will show any milestones at risk and days remaining in the project.

A calendar view for new products that are being delivered and shipped.

A Gantt view that shows how the production dates for each product overlap.

A summary dashboard that shows the number of products ordered as well as costs-to-date.

Automate your repetitive tasks

Repetitive tasks, while essential to complete, can slow you—and your team—down. Time spent communicating that a brief is ready for the next stage of approval or that a social post is ready to schedule keeps your team from focusing on critical decisions that drive work forward.

Airtable has built-in automations that can help your team focus on your end goal and get there faster. Automations allow you to create rules that automatically trigger specific actions, so that you can take repetitive tasks and hand them off to Airtable with just a few clicks.

Building off the product roadmap example above, you can create an automation to notify cross-functional team members if a launch date changes so they can adjust their plans accordingly. This helps your team move faster by ensuring everyone is on the same page and can execute on their work, without the extra overhead. Automate your repetitive tasks

Repetitive tasks, while essential to complete, can slow you—and your team—down. Time spent communicating that a brief is ready for the next stage of approval or that a social post is ready to schedule keeps your team from focusing on critical decisions that drive work forward.

Airtable has built-in automations that can help your team focus on your end goal and get there faster. Automations allow you to create rules that automatically trigger specific actions, so that you can take repetitive tasks and hand them off to Airtable with just a few clicks.

Building off the product roadmap example above, you can create an automation to notify cross-functional team members if a launch date changes so they can adjust their plans accordingly. This helps your team move faster by ensuring everyone is on the same page and can execute on their work, without the extra overhead. 

Working in Airtable can improve how your team works for processes and projects of all sizes. Above, we’ve dropped in some pretty complex examples to show what is possible with Airtable, but by no means do you need to start there. With a few simple steps, you can build the foundation for your own custom application—and Airtable is highly flexible, so you can level up whenever you’re ready. We’ll be here to guide you.

Now you know what’s possible, let’s get started by defining the first thing you’ll build the first thing you’ll build in Airtable. 

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