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Re: Airtable Database Structuring

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JacobCH
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator


Background information: We are a 25 person medical clinic. We are using Airtable to manage the business operations which consist of a medical team, health coaching team, marketing team, operations/sales team, and eventually a bigger technology team.

As my company is growing, I am constantly looking for ways to structure my Airtable database more efficiently. This leads me to two questions.

Should I build interfaces for employees to work out of instead of having them in the backend of Airtable?

My next question is what are some tips to make Airtable more efficient in terms of keeping things user friendly and simple? Or things I should avoid?

Overall, as we bring more people on the team, I want to limit the amount of confusion and overwhelming emotion that any new hires might experience in Airtable training.


3 Replies 3
Brian_Sweeny
6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

I feel it is best practice for most organizations to have Airtable bases be only accessible to the most proficient Airtable user! Everyone else should interact with an Airtable interface or with another app-interface that uses Airtable as the backend like Softr. If you need any help with this, feel free to schedule a session with me!

Yes, you should build interfaces for your users that support their specific workflows and needs, instead of expecting them to work in a data view in Airtable. This will make onboarding easier and also reduce accidental mistakes.

As you onboard new people to Airtable, be very careful to who you grant creator permissions in your production bases. If you can afford it, let people who are interested in being creators experiment with creator abilities in their own personal bases or a sandbox workspace so they can get familiar with with Airtable concepts. Make sure that they do not create any "shadow IT" bases.

Constantly looking for ways to improve your bases is a good thing, but be careful about making dramatic changes. As you get to know Airtable better and as Airtable releases new features there will always be tings that can be improved. Before making any changes, check the full impact of the change, give people advance warning, and test, test, test.

Decide if you can accomplish everything you need with native Airtable features, or if you need third party integrations. Third party integrations can be very powerful but also add a layer of complexity.

Yeap, just get everyone to use Interfaces!

re: Efficiency
Where possible / important, I like to update field names to include the fact that they affect automations, e.g. "Used by '[Automation name]".  If you've got a bunch of fields that are daisy chained together for a single flow it's also worth adding that detail to the field names just so that when you come back in a couple of weeks you know why specific fields exist.  It's too easy to end up with two hundred fields and be too scared to delete anything, you know what I mean?

To that end, I also like to add an 'x' to fields that I know are only for testing things out, e.g. 'x total amount paid' and stuff, that way I know it's not used at all and can clear those out periodically if needed