You’ve taken the time to build a system that accurately reflects your workflow’s needs, now it’s time to turn to an equally—if not more— important part of orchestrating great work: setting up your stakeholders for success in your new system. Team work makes the dream work as they say.
In this guide, you’ll learn step-by-step how to set up your stakeholders for success in your Airtable base . By the end of this guide, you’ll have a system that’s ready to be shared with all of your stakeholders—no matter the role they play in your workflow.
You’ll learn how to:
In step 1 of this guide, you mapped out your workflow’s goal. Achieving your workflow goal requires a tight coordinated effort among many stakeholders. Therefore, optimizing your system for the success of each stakeholder is just as important as setting up the base itself.
Before you jump into optimizing up your base, make sure you have in hand the stakeholder mapping you created in step 1. In this mapping, you grouped stakeholders into the following categories:
- Overview: This type of stakeholder wants to view information, but will not need to add or edit information. Common examples include cross functional team members or executives.
- Input: This type of stakeholder needs to submit information, but will not need further visibility. Examples include partners submitting requests or customers providing feedback.
- Collaborate: This type of stakeholder needs full access to view, edit, and add information. Examples include your project’s team members, cross functional collaborators or any one else that is an integral part of your workflow.
→ Before continuing, make sure every stakeholder is considered and in the right category! And remember that their success is your success!
Every stakeholder requires different information and plays a different role in your workflow. Even collaborators—your stakeholders that need full to access—may play different roles. Among your close collaborators, some may participate in building your system—adding tables or fields—while others only need to update information.
In Airtable, you can provide your collaborators different levels of access depending on what they need. As you go through each permission level below, think back to your collaborator mapping and consider what the right permission level would be right for each collaborator in your workflow.
A collaborator with creator level access can edit and configure everything in the base. This is the highest permission level and should be reserved for trusted collaborators you expect to continue building your base (adding new tables, configuring fields etc.).
A collaborator with editor level access can edit records, add records and create new views but cannot add tables, fields or reconfigure existing ones. Invite collaborators as editors when you expect them to add and update information in your system but do not want them to be responsible for configuring your base.
A collaborator with commenter level access can comment on records but not add or edit existing information in your base. Provide commenter level access for collaborators that do not need to input any information, simply see existing information in the base and add their comments when needed.
A collaborator with read-only access can see the information in your base but cannot edit it in any way. Provide read-only access to collaborators who need access to all of the information in your base but do need to update any of it.
Some things to consider as you’re mapping collaborators to the right permission levels:
- If a stakeholder only needs access to some information in your base, they may not need to be invited to the base—we’ll cover how to share part of your base via shared view links in the overview section!
- All collaborators except read-only are considered billable, see airtable.com/pricing for more.
- All collaborators—regardless of their access level—will become options in the collaborator field.
→ Take a moment to map each of your collaborators to the right permission level. Do you want them to maintain and grow the base? Mark them as a creator. Will they be responsible for adding information in? Editor feels right. Otherwise you can bucket them at lower access levels like read-only or commenter.
It’s important to provide context before collaborators enter your base, so don’t invite them just yet!
Concepts covered: Views, view descriptions, personal views, locked views
It’s important to provide context for all of your stakeholders so they feel oriented in this new system you’ve created.
In Airtable, there are different ways to provide this context, so each stakeholder knows where to go to update the information for their role or get the information they need to orchestrate their work.
Your collaborators require different sets of information at key moments of the workflow to accomplish their various roles. For instance, at the prioritization step, project managers need to see all upcoming and in progress projects to decide which should be next while at the execution phase while a designer wants to see all assets assigned to them to get a sense of personal workload.
In Airtable, each one of your collaborators can get the information they need using views. Views are different ways of visualizing your information. They provide a way for each stakeholder (or set of collaborators) to pull up what they need quickly and efficiently.
To orient your collaborators, you can create relevant views for them before inviting them. If you’re a web design agency, this could be a prioritization view filtered down to “up next” and “in progress” projects grouped by status or a calendar view of deadlines for the asset designers.
Make sure everyone knows which views are relevant to them by adding view descriptions! You can even use emojis to categorize your views and make them stand out.
In addition to view descriptions, you can opt to lock a view’s configuration—preventing other collaborators from inadvertently changing its configuration. This is especially important if your collaborators are new to Airtable and may not be aware that changing a shared view configuration affects everyone. A best practice is to lock any view that you expect to be frequently used by multiple collaborators.
To avoid crowding the viewfinder, you can encourage collaborators to create personal views for one-off information needs. Anyone accessing the base can hide everyone else’s personal views to keep the viewfinder neatly organized!
Your overview collaborators do not need access to all of the information but to a subset they want to oversee. Overview collaborators can also leverage views! You can create a view that contains the information an overview collaborator requires—the latest projects or the list of clients with an upcoming contract end date—and create a shareable view link. Anyone accessing this shared view URL will see the same information that’s in the view without having to create an Airtable account! A best practice is to encourage overview stakeholders to bookmark these URLs so they can get the right information when they need it.
→ Create the views that will be relevant for each of your collaborators with a strong description so they’ll know that view is for them. Lock the views that you expect to be shared amongst many collaborators and used frequently so no one inadvertently changes the configurations of those views! And finally, share the right views with your overview stakeholders using view share links so they have what they need to see how your workflow is progressing.
Covered concepts: Forms
In addition to keeping information up to date, it’s important that workflows get the right inputs. These are moments in your workflow where external stakeholders can input information—requests, feedback—that augments your workflow.
In Airtable, you can get inputs from external stakeholders by creating forms. Adding a form view to any table creates a custom shareable form where submissions will automatically populate in the right table!
By default, a form will include all fields from your table. You can customize it to only include the inputs you need from your external stakeholders by dragging and dropping the right fields. For instance you can create an asset submission request where clients can submit the assets they need for a particular project.
You can make forms accessible to anyone via a public URL, embed them on a website or restrict them with a password. Note that no matter the restriction levels in place, form viewers and submitters do not need an Airtable account and therefore have no impact on billing.
→ Gather the right inputs by creating the forms required for your workflow.
Concepts covered: Adding base collaborators, adding base descriptions,
Your base is now set up for collaboration:
- You know the permission level required for each collaborators
- You’ve created descriptive views for your collaborators and overview stakeholders
- You’ve got the forms ready for your input stakeholders
The last step is to invite all of your stakeholders into your system while providing context. Remember that your stakeholders are learning a new system and a new tool. Since their success in this new system is your success, it’s important to provide them the context and onboarding so they can properly fulfill their role in the workflow using this new system.
In Airtable, there are a few ways to provide additional context when bringing your team onboard. When inviting collaborators into the base, you can add a custom message to the invite. Use this text to orient into the base or encourage them reach out to you with any questions about how to use this new system!
Additionally, you can add a base description which appears when a user first enters a base. Use this space to explain what the different tables represent, which views may be relevant to different stakeholders or anything else that needs some context!
Remember that getting your team onboard is a continuous process! The invite text and base description are good starting points but depending on your team’s knowledge of Airtable, your stakeholders may need additional help onboarding into this new system you’ve built.
To help with this, here are some resources you can share with your stakeholders to help them understand airtable: airtable.com/webinars, etc.
→ It’s time to bring your stakeholder on board: invite collaborators into your base, share view links with overview stakeholders and forms with input stakeholders. Remember to always provide context with your stakeholders and additional resources where they can learn Airtable!
You’ve taken the four key steps to getting your team onboard:
✓ Invited collaborators into your new system with the right permission level and tools to be successful
✓ Shared the right views with overview stakeholders so they can get the information they need from your workflow
✓ Created form views for the crucial inputs necessary to run your workflow
✓ Provided context to all collaborators within your system with base and view descriptions
With this in place, you’re now ready to successfully collaborate in Airtable and bring your workflow to the next level.