Airtable project management: Everything you need to boost team productivity

Mariam Ispiryan • July 14, 2022 • 14 min read

Many small teams, especially when you’re just getting started, aren’t tech savvy. That’s why you need project management software that can optimize workflows even without a large budget or hours to spend learning a complex new tool. 

Airtable’s familiar spreadsheet-like interface, paired with powerful database capabilities and a strong API, makes it the perfect solution for basic project management. But it does also have drawbacks (like a lack of granular user permissions). 

In this article, find out how to use Airtable for project management, step-by-step instructions for creating your first project, and how Softr can supercharge your Airtable experience (more than making up for those drawbacks).

If you’re looking for quick answers, use the links below to skip to the right section:

  1. Airtable handles project management through relational databases
  2. What are the challenges of using Airtable for project management? 
  3. Are there any advantages to using Airtable for project management?
  4. How to use Airtable for project management?
  5. Take your Airtable project management to the next level

Like Airtable but looking for something more?

Softr is the easiest and fastest way to upgrade your Airtable experience.

Airtable handles project management through relational databases

Airtable allows you to create and share relational databases that you can use to organize and manage projects in various views including Calendar, Gantt, and Kanban.

It’s the perfect project management solution for smaller teams because it

  1. Centralizes your data
  2. Customizes views
  3. Automates recurring tasks 
  4. Has a robust API and extensions, formerly apps, that allow for numerous integrations

Let’s take a deeper look into each of these benefits. 

1. Centralize your data

Airtable provides a central hub for all your information and gives you the opportunity to flesh out the data while still keeping it organized in different tables. Because of the tool’s relational nature, you can easily link different tables together, and any changes made to either dataset will automatically update in all the right places.

For example, let’s say you’ve divided your data into projects, and their related tasks. You can link your social media marketing project with a “sharing brand identity” task. If you change the status for that task from “in progress” to “behind,” you’ll immediately see that change reflected in the overall project.

Airtable project management bsse

Airtable centralizes your data into one hub while still keeping your information organized and easily accessible.

Image source: Airtable Universe

Airtable can store between 2GB to 1,000GB of data per base or project, depending on your plan, including

  • Photos and videos
  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets files

2. Customize views

Airtable offers custom view options for your team to view information in whatever format suits them best. This gives team members further visibility and helps optimize your workflows. 

 The common Airtable views include:

  • Grid view is the default view in Airtable. It looks just like a classic Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
  • Calendar view displays records on the calendar to help the team meet due dates consistently. 
  • Gallery view highlights visual attachments, showing your data as a large card.
  • Kanban board is a popular dashboard view style used by Trello and ClickUp. It's ideal for a project team that tracks project status step by step. In Kanban, tasks are shown as stacked cards.
  • Gantt Chart view is perfect for complex, multi-step initiatives. Here, tasks are shown across the x-axis, and a timeline showing tasks' duration to completion is displayed along the y-axis.

Check out the video below by Gareth Pronovost from GAP Consulting to get a better view on improving your workflow with Airtable.

Airtable’s various view options give team members extra visibility and help optimize workflows. 

3. Automate recurring tasks

Airtable saves you further time and decreases the risk of manual errors by allowing you to automate recurring tasks. For example, if you need to manually create a new record for your team’s recurring sprints every week, you can set up Airtable to automatically create these for you.

All you need to do is set a condition, for example when the sprint project status is “complete,” and a trigger, which will create the new record for you.

If your project has recurring tasks, take advantage of Airtable automations to save time and decrease the risk of errors. 

4. Do more with a robust API and extensions

Airtable’s robust API allows you to integrate with over 1,000 websites and apps. For example, you can integrate your project data with Github, so your team members can access Airtable data directly from Github and vice versa. This allows for a seamless data flow system between tools and database solutions.

You can also integrate blocks (mini-apps) and extensions (previously called apps.) For example, you can add a time-tracking block to boost your productivity, or you can integrate Loom to help you better communicate asynchronously with your team members and stakeholders.

Airtable marketplace

Airtable’s API allows you to integrate with over 1000 websites and apps to supercharge your experience. 

What are the challenges of using Airtable for project management?

Although Airtable provides powerful functionality for project management, like automations and customizable views, there are some disadvantages as well:

  1. No complex communication capabilities
  2. Higher learning curve compared to other tools 
  3. No granular user permissions
  4. Only available in English 

1. No complex communication capabilities 

When making other tool comparisons, like looking at Airtable vs., Airtable falls short of complex collaboration capabilities. For example, while Airtable allows users to put comments on a row, it doesn’t have an in-app chat function that can give context to a discussion, like does.

Softr fills this gap for Airtable users by offering an instant messaging integration that enables peer-to-peer, in-app, communication. 

Softr x Airtable

Softr offers users the peer-to-peer Atom Chat integration to make up for the lack of real-time communication tools in Airtable.

2. Higher learning curve compared to other tools 

Airtable is a highly complex tool that allows for a variety of use cases. But this complexity also means it takes longer to set up initially. However, there are many Airtable templates available to get you started. And if you have a specific use case you can’t find a template for, there’s always Airtable Universe, a platform filled with bases created by Airtable expert users. (More on this later!)

Airtable universe

Airtable Universe is a collection of bases created by expert Airtable users and can help specific projects get off the ground more quickly. 

3. Lack of granular permissions 

Airtable does have certain permissions levels like

  1. Workspace owner
  2. Workspace collaborator at the editor level
  3. Workspace collaborator at a commenter level
  4. Base collaborator at the editor level

However, these permissions are pretty basic and no different from a normal Google Doc, for example. Softr elevates Airtable by offering granular permissions that make sure users only see the information that’s relevant to them. 

For example, a marketing employee won’t be able to access the same tasks or documents as a team leader. This reduces information overload and increases data integrity.  

softr content visibility

With Softr, you can add roles and conditional permissions to make sure only the appropriate team members can access certain information. 

4. Only available in English 

Right now, Airtable is only available in English, which makes it harder for international teams to manage projects effectively.

Are there any advantages to using Airtable for Project Management?

Despite its limitations, there are quite a few advantages to using Airtable for project management. Some of these advantages are:

  1. Comes with pre-built templates 
  2. Highly adaptable 
  3. Easily integrates with other database solutions

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Pre-built templates

One of Airtable’s most useful features is its pre-built project management templates. This is perfect for smaller teams and startups who are looking for fast and easy ways to start optimizing their workflows, and don’t need tons of customization.

airtable PM template

Airtable’s pre-built project management templates are perfect for newer users, or smaller teams who are looking for fast and easy ways to get started.

2. Adaptability

Airtable is a highly adaptable tool because: 

  1. Its familiar spreadsheet-like interface makes it easy for any user, with any amount of tech-savviness, to get started. 
  2. Its free plan allows smaller teams and startups to get their business off the ground with minimal costs. Not many tools offer a free plan, especially one with features that are actually helpful. Just look at Airtable vs. Smartsheet
  3. It easily integrates with third-party plugins, apps, websites, and platforms like Softr to help you optimize your workflow. An integration with Softr also means having the option to add a team wiki or knowledge base on top of your project management platform if you ever need it.

team wiki template

By integrating with no-code web app and website builders like Softr, Airtable gives your team the possibility to adapt and scale your solutions whenever you need. 

3. Easy to integrate with other database solutions 

If you’ve been working with other spreadsheet tools or database solutions like Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets, you can easily transfer your data to Airtable. 

importing airtable with other platforms

You can easily import your previous data to Airtable from a CSV file, Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets.

And, if your project requires you to go back and forth between Excel and Airtable, you can also integrate the two tools so once new data is entered into Excel, a new record will automatically be created in Airtable.

Like Airtable but looking for something more?

Softr is the easiest and fastest way to upgrade your Airtable experience.

How to use Airtable for project management 

Let’s go over some of the basic steps of beginning your project management process with Airtable. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, narrow down your needs and expectations
  2. Then, create your workplace
  3. Create a base from scratch or choose a template
  4. Populate your template or your base with data
  5. Add your team

And you’re good to go! Let’s look at the steps in more detail.

Step one: Narrow down your needs and expectations 

Planning your projects and narrowing down your needs at this early stage, will help you get the most out of the tool, and save tasks from falling through the cracks in the future.

So before starting your work management with Airtable, you need to hone in on your needs and expectations. For example, if you’re a social media manager, you could need Airtable to help you

  1. Create brand hashtags
  2. Interview industry experts
  3. Create Instagram posts
  4. Write Tweets
  5. Meet with the marketing team

All of these different needs can become tasks, subtasks, or full-on projects in later steps. 

Step two: Create your workplace 

When you first log in to your Airtable homepage, you’ll see all the workspaces you’re part of. Chances are that if you’re a new user, you’ll see “My First Workspace” already created for you. Workspaces house your bases so you’re more organized.

To create another workspace, just go to Workspaces on the lower left-hand corner of the screen, click on Add a workspace, and give it a name. Now you can go ahead and create a base.

airtable workspace

To add a new workspace, log in to your Airtable account, and click on Add a workspace on the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

Step three: Create a base from scratch or choose a template 

If you're new to Airtable, we recommend you start by choosing and copying a ready-made template. Airtable offers various templates for project management, so you don’t have to start from scratch. But if you’re an Airtable wiz, or up for a challenge, you can start from zero.

To create a base, head over to your Homepage>Add a base. Here, you can choose to either import your previous data, check out some templates, or start from scratch.

Check out the video below for an in-depth tutorial.

When first starting out with a new base, you have the option to either import previous data, copy a premade template, or start from zero.

Step four: Populate your template or base with your data

After finalizing your template, start populating it with your own data. To import data from a CSV file or another spreadsheet, open your base, and click on Import data on the top left-hand corner of your screen. 

import data to Airtable

To import your data, open your base, then click Import data. 

Step five: Add your team

Lastly, invite your other team members to begin collaborating on your new project. On the top right corner of your screen, click share. From here, you can either invite your team members through an email invite or create and share a link to the base.

invite team member

When you’re ready to invite your team members, click on share on the top right corner of your screen.

Take Airtable project management to the next level

Thanks to easy-to-use templates, various automation, and powerful API and extensions, Airtable’s spreadsheet-database solution is perfect for smaller teams and startups who need a quick and easy way to manage their workflows

But when used by itself, Airtable is only really fit for basic project management. That’s because it has a few drawbacks, like

  1. Lack of complex communication abilities 
  2. Higher initial learning curve compared to other tools 
  3. Lack of granular permissions 
  4. Only being available in English

However, if you’re still an Airtable fan and are just looking for more complex abilities and functions, then the Softr-Airtable duo is for you. And if you ever need to expand your tech stack with custom-built internal tools and web apps, you can use Softr to supercharge your Airtable data and scale your business. 

Like Airtable but looking for something more?

Softr is the easiest and fastest way to upgrade your Airtable experience.

Frequently asked questions about project management

Airtable is a spreadsheet-database hybrid that allows anyone to quickly create a database, which can then be used to power visualizations, processes, and integrations for a custom application. It’s simple, user-friendly, and helps smaller teams and growing startups manage their workflow.

Airtable is a database spreadsheet hybrid software that helps you to create and share databases with others. However, Asana is web-based task management software that allows teams to collaborate and track their work progress.

Airtable is the perfect task management solution for smaller teams, but when it comes to project management, it needs other tools like Softr to plug in some limitations such as 1. Only being available in English 2. Limited in-app communication 3. A higher learning curve than other traditional project management tools

Airtable is a spreadsheet-database hybrid with project management capabilities. With the help of Softr, individuals and teams can even use Airtable to power no-code websites and web apps. Trello, on the other hand, is a simple, easy-to-learn, Kanban theme task management software.

In addition to its free plan, Airtable’s pricing includes 1. Plus plan: $12 per seat/month 2. Pro plan: $24 per seat/month 3. Enterprise plan: Depends on the requirements of the company

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