Project Management 101

ClickUp's guide to all things project management.

Airtable Project Management

Airtable is an easy-to-use database and spreadsheet software. It lets you add “records,” or cells of data, to a comprehensive data table. This grid view serves as your default Airtable workspace.  
Essentially, Airtable takes the best features of an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet and presents them in a simple user interface
An Airtable spreadsheet can help a user
  • Manage inventory data 
  • Track lists of reference items 
  • Build a makeshift CRM software

What are the key features of Airtable?

So what made this tool so popular?
Here’s a closer look at Airtable’s best features:

1. Pre-made templates to help you quickly create your first Airtable base

As setting up the Airtable workspace can be really complex for new Airtable users, the  software provides hundreds of pre-made templates to help you out.
These templates range from personal projects to conventional business themes, such as:
  • User Research”
  • “Social Media Campaigns”
  • “Bug and Issue Tracker”
Regardless of what you use an Airtable database for, you can find pre-made templates that’ll cater to your needs in the Airtable universe.

2. Custom views for different applications

The Airtable app lets you create different custom Airtable views, like the Calendar view, to help you adapt to your team’s needs. 
These include:
  • Classic spreadsheetdisplays a  spreadsheet/ grid view similar to Excel and Google Sheets
  • Calendar: the Calendar view displays Airtable records according to date columns, like submission dates
  • Gallery: card-oriented view that shows file attachments like images and documents
  • Kanban: Kanban board is a popular stacked-card format used in Agile project management  tools like Trello and ClickUp
Note: While the tool  supports all these Airtable views, it lacks a basic Gantt chart view — something every Agile  project needs. 

3. Document storage keeps project files in one place

Airtable lets you store various file attachments in your database records.
You get storage spaces ranging from 2GB to 1000GB in various pricing plans. This way, you can save your project  data within your Airtable base without running out of space.
Yeah, no need to declutter just yet!
The Airtable app also supports multiple formats for your file attachments like:
  • Images and videos 
  • PDF documents 
  • Spreadsheets, including support for a CSV file

4. Task management and tracking 

In the days of yore, people used Excel and Google Sheets spreadsheets for project management! 
This was before the era of any dedicated project management tool — most of them now being  Airtable alternatives.
And if listening to Queen or Phil Collins isn’t enough to bring back memories, you can create a basic task management system with the free Airtable spreadsheet or grid view.
You can use the tables in your Airtable workspace to enter task data, like how long someone spends on a task. This way, you get quick overviews of project statuses,  provided you manually update it on a regular basis.
For added flexibility, you can also share the Calendar view with your teams to plan and manage project timelines and to-do lists.

5. Airtable blocks can integrate third-party plugins

Third-party plugins that support Airtable integration are called “Blocks.” 
Airtable doesn’t have the essential features you’d expect in a project management app (what most Airtable alternatives offer).
Blocks let you work with plugins like Google Drive to compensate for the tool’s drawbacks. 
Some of its popular integrations include:
  • Slack: instant messaging and communication tool
  • GitHub: software development platform
  • WordPress: free open-source content management system
  • Stripe: online payment processing platform
Note : The downside here is that Blocks aren’t included in the basic Airtable pricing plans. You can’t unlock the Airtable Google integrations without shelling out some major bucks.

Why Look for an Airtable Alternative?

While Airtable is a handy software, it isn’t the perfect management app
I mean, it’s basically a database management  tool — not a project  tool! So why look for an Airtable alternative?

Airtable Con #1: No organized commenting

Modern project management platforms center around real-time collaboration  and feedback
But Airtable isn’t designed for this. 
Unlike the Airtable branding, the actual tool’s more of a relational database that helps represent relationships between data in a table. 
What’s a relational database?
The very fact that you have to ask that shows you how complicated this entire thing is, right?
It means that Airtable doesn’t focus on easy collaboration or communication. If you want to leave a comment for your team, you’ll have to perform multiple searches to find the right record.
And we all know how fun looking through hundreds of messages is! 
The only way out of this is to link Airtable to another project  management software

Airtable Con #2: Lack of big picture views

Here’s a few common questions that project managers ask often:
What’s the status of this task? How is it progressing? Where are my donuts?
(I’m serious! Who doesn’t want a donut?!)
When a user uses Airtable it’s virtually impossible to answer those questions and know what’s going on.
For task management, everyone must update their tables manually and give you access.
Even then, you’ll have to keep switching between each team’s tables just to find what you want! 
If that isn’t going to be annoying, what is?
You’ll be wasting all this time shuffling between tables when you could be munching into a double glazed donut with sprinkles instead.
And that’s not a reasonable trade-off.

Airtable Con #3: Tasks (and subtasks) are near impossible to use

But managing tasks in Airtable is virtually impossible. 
I mean, does Airtable even have tasks?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: it has rows without the ability to add specific comments. 
You’ll have to put in loads of effort to actually use or organize tasks — which defeats the purpose of a  project management software.
And don’t even ask about subtasks!
For those, you’d have to create and link another table containing the tasks you need. 
Seriously. Talk about clutter, confusion and complexity! 

Airtable Con #4: Absence of detailed reporting features

Airtable doesn’t give the user detailed built-in reports. 
The only reports available are basic graphs and reports via Airtable Blocks, which are too costly
In Airtable, you have practically no way to analyze your project progress to know if things are proceeding according to plan!

Airtable Con #5: Lacks native time tracking 

Want to know how long each task took?
In the free Airtable plan, you can’t
You can’t make project time estimates or track time without yet another Airtable integration or add-on.
Not only is this inconvenient, but Airtable Blocks are only available in its premium plans like the Airtable Pro plan and Enterprise plan. 
You’ll have to shell out at least $20/month per user for a simple time tracking feature!
Or perhaps use your watch and punch in numbers into another spreadsheet?

Airtable Con #6: Expensive pricing plans

Although Airtable offers a free plan, its functionality is too limited. 
As basic Airtable plans don’t allow you to use Blocks, you don’t get any time tracking or reporting features.
For essential features like Blocks or personal and locked views, your Airtable cost will rise to at least $20/month per  user with the pricier Airtable plans!
Say goodbye to that vacation you planned after COVID-19 goes away!

Looking for an Airtable alternative?

Check out our master comparison chart, or click the links below to find an Airtable alternative that is right for you!

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