Solution Spotlight: AirTable


Through the GraceRock Blog, I’ll be sharing various things including my opinions, reviews of software products, profiles of amazing people, and recaps of happenings in the HR Tech space. This is my first solution review, and it’s for a product I’ve come to love over the past several months. While it’s not specific to HR or even recruiting, it has a lot of uses and I’m sure you’ll find more than one way it can help you.

Last year while working with a consulting company, I happened across AirTable. We were scaling their event strategy and execution services and they needed a way to track all of the events and associated asset requests for their various clients. Airtable turned out to be just what we needed to get the job done. That was the first of several use cases we found where it applied. Not only that, but the system quite literally changed how I think about building products and crafting solutions.

Airtable describes themselves as “a spreadsheet that acts like a database.” Founded in 2012, it’s become a powerhouse for content production management with clients such as Time, Atlantic Records, and Netflix. They raised $60M in funds last March and then another $100M in November. In a Forbes Article from last November, they are reported to be at at 20M in revenue after growing 400% in 2018. Their founder, Howie Lieu, told Fortune he wants to help companies build their own software, just like you can build anything with Lego blocks. They have a breadth of features for project collaboration and an extremely user-friendly UI. The image above shows a use case example of Airtable managing a rocket launch (who knows…maybe Nasa or SpaceX are clients). That should give you a feel for the scope of Airtable’s capabilities – they’re very broad.

For me personally Airtable been a huge asset. I’m a product manager by trade for the past 20+ years. Going into the consulting world this past year had left me without a development team to collaborate with when building product solutions. AirTable has given me the ability to build solutions for clients with ZERO development resources. While I’ve enjoyed working with developers over the years, it’s been both fun and liberating to build solutions in AirTable all on my own. I used it just last week to share the HR Strategy Value Calculator with readers in this post.

At first glance, it feels like Google Sheets, but it’s so much more powerful than that. The easy to use drag-and-drop user experience lets you enter information and link records together, drag around records and attachments, and format sharing views of information with ease. If your needs include gathering small (or large) amounts of information, organizing it, collaborating on it, integrating it, reporting it, sharing it, trello-ing it, rank ordering it, organizing it into a calendar, or mapping it, and you want to do it QUICKLY, as in TODAY, AirTable is a tool you need to know about. Their free plan is very robust – used by 1 in 6 users today. Per user plans are $10-or-$20/user per month, and Enterprise Plans start at $60/user.

Here are just a few ideas for how you can make the most of Airtable in the HR and Talent Acquisition world today:

  1. Gather and share stories
  2. Build, manage and publish candidate personas and journey maps
  3. Gather and store quarterly bonus scorecards from employees
  4. Collect, audit, and manage your HR system configurations
  5. Support and track a “simple” approval requests
  6. Collect superfluous data that is junking up your ATS
  7. Organize campus event associated collateral, costs, and feedback
  8. Collect and aggregate RFP responses and demos and reviewer ratings into single site
  9. EVP Branding Study Management
  10. Plan a wedding (Okay that one is not HR related but I have to throw it in there because this is actually a great product for helping plan big events)

Let’s look at a real example. Below, I’ve linked to an AirTable base I created in my free workspace in under an hour to gather stories, such as candidate stories. Feel free to play with it. Here’s how:

The Form: use the link below to share a story: https://airtable.com/shryj8uEBgwC2kDeq (this is the no frills free version so no branding is applied)

Published Site of Personas: To view approved stories, click here: https://airtable.com/shrDh8h4xlYaim0aH/tblLyprk2V6LLnzUM

Once the form is completed, it is submitted into the base but not shared with anyone on the published site. In this case, it’s configured for the base owner/editor (me in this case) to review and approve form entries. Changing a status field to a specific value makes the story available on this webpage based on how the page is set. (These pages can be password protected or domain restricted on the paid plan).

Want to use AirTable for yourself? Click this link and you can get your free AirTable account.

When you sign up for AirTable you will be given you own personal workspace and you can also be invited to join or create additional workspaces. Billing is controlled per each workspace you have access to. Free workspaces can have bases of up to 1,200 rows and 2GB of attachment file space – PER ROW. Inside a workspace, you can create as many bases as you’d like. Each base is an isolated use case for how you will use AirTable. So if I had a workspace that was used for the 9 examples I gave above, inside you would find 9 bases – one for each scenario.

For clarity sake, let me also share what AirTable is not. It is not an Applicant Tracking System, or a Talent Management suite, or an AI Sourcing tool, or any other tool where advanced searching of documents is desired, or a user (employee or candidate) logs in and gets to access, manage and update just their information. It is almost, but still not quite, an org charting tool. It is not multilingual. Based on their long term strategy, that’s the goal though. They are just a few…make that several, Lego blocks away from being there.

Are you using AirTable or other full-blown Low Code development platforms like Outsystems to support your HR use cases? I’ve love to hear about them and the successes and/or challenges you have faced.

Solution Spotlight: AirTable

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