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6 Steps to Build Business Software with Airtable

June 26, 20236 min read

6 Steps to Build Business Software with Airtable

Operators can benefit from standardizing internal processes with a few simple steps.

1. Map existing process

For the process in question, map the detailed actions (procedures) required today to deliver the desired outcome.

Start with a brain dump of all the actions you take to get the job done in a bullet point list just to get them out of your head and onto paper. Don’t worry about it being a perfectly complete list, you can fill in the gaps later. Also be sure to list who is responsible for that task, whether they’re a certain role type or a department.

Once you have a list that feels like you’ve covered the majority of the tasks required, start mapping your processes in a swimlane workflow diagram.

Tools to Use

Tools like Miro are great whiteboard tools for mapping your processes visually and will allow you to easily make edits to the flow in the future. Use our process map template for a great mapping experience.

In your Miro board, each row (swimlane) is labeled with a persona or department and your columns will be used as space to map out the steps of your process. 

Starting at the beginning of the process, organize the steps you listed earlier in chronological order within its corresponding swim lane. 

Then connect each step to the following step. Be sure to mark the decision points and what needs to happen based on each decision.

Once your diagram feels complete, test it by following along with each step of the flow. Try it out yourself according to the directions you’ve listed, and ensure you reach the end objective of your process without a hitch. Correct the process where necessary.


2. Define software requirements

Choose how to define your requirements. We recommend writing your requirements as user stories according to the Agile Software Development Methodology (here's some additional info on how to write user stories).

This part of the process is essential as it sets the vision for what you’re going to build next. These user stories should represent the ideal user experience based on the constraints your business must work within. This requires you to put yourself in the shoes of each user persona to explicitly define their needs.

At the end of this step, you should have created a complete list of the requirements you want to build out in the next steps based on the desired improvements in the process you defined in step 1.


  • As a project manager, I want to be able to easily track and manage the progress of each task in the project, so that I can ensure timely completion and identify any potential bottlenecks or issues.

  • As a team member, I want to have a clear understanding of my assigned tasks and their priorities, so that I can effectively manage my workload and contribute to the project's success.

  • As a stakeholder, I want to be able to access real-time project status updates and reports, so that I can make informed decisions and provide timely feedback to the project team.

  • As a project manager, I want to have a centralized document repository where I can store and share project-related documents, such as requirements, design specifications, and meeting minutes, so that team members can easily access and collaborate on them.

  • As a project manager, I want to be able to define and manage project milestones and deadlines, so that I can set clear expectations and keep the team focused on achieving key deliverables.

Want a pre-built tool to help you write and organize your user stories effortlessly? We share our free SOPs and tools for this process in our consultation calls.

3. Model the database

List the required tables, fields, field types, and linked table relationships based on the needs defined in your user story requirements. Intelligent database design will allow you to fully satisfy some user stories simply based on how you design your database structure.


  • Projects

  • Start Date - Date

  • End Date - Date

  • Tasks - Link to Tasks

  • Tasks

  • Project - Link to Projects

  • Due Date - Date

  • Status - Single Select

  • Owner - Link to People

  • People

  • Name - Single Line Text

  • Email - Email

  • Department - Single Select

  • Tasks - Link to Tasks

This can be done in a spreadsheet or basic document fairly easily. However, we also share our free SOPs and tools for this process in our consultation calls.

If you’re feeling extra cheeky, you can skip the step of writing out all this information and start configuring your database as needed in real time.


4. Develop system features

For each user story, modify your database architecture in order to facilitate the user experience you need to create. Set up views and interfaces that allow you to visualize and interact with your data. 

You may need to develop additional automations and integrations in order to fully meet your requirements, however these advanced features are out of the scope of this article. This part usually requires the most technical knowledge. If you get stuck and need extra help with development, our team can jump in quickly to help you build advanced features like custom scripts, interfaces, and 3rd-party integrations.

Check out our Airtable for Beginners course for video walkthroughs of how to use the most powerful features in your Airtable database.

5. Validate build

Review each user story one-by-one and validate that the intended requirements are supported by the system features. Test each feature ensuring that no bugs, errors, or issues exist. Testing may differ depending on the type of component you need to test:

Automations / Integrations

Test with a variety of inputs (especially edge cases) to ensure that your outputs are created as expected.

Tables / Fields

Confirm that all the required attributes and their corresponding types are present in the database schema.

Views / Interfaces

Check your groups, sorts, and especially your filters to validate that the expected data is displayed properly in any given view or interface.

6. Create SOP documentation

Your final task will be to document your new procedure in detail in a well-written SOP. 

Documentation is the most critical step to standardizing your process as it creates the source of truth that your team will reference in the future to complete the process. 


In your SOPs, be sure to describe:

  1. What resources and tools you need to complete the process

  2. The list of steps to follow to complete the process

  3. Additional notes and FAQs that may come up including links to your workflow diagrams

  4. A video walkthrough of the process for visual learners (try using Loom!)

If multiple roles are responsible for completing the process, separate the action items of your SOP according to each role so that each role can study their responsibilities in a focused manner.

Be sure to organize these SOPs in a central location that everyone can access. Airtable is a great tool to organize resources like this for your team in one place.

Here's some more in-depth information on How to Write an SOP.

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Mecca Parker

I operate a startup technology consulting agency that helps agency leaders across industries build internal IT systems that drive productivity, efficiency, clarity, and collaboration in their operations. Our specialities are in Airtable and, as well as other low-code tools. As a technology consultant, I serve clients across a range of industries including in marketing, legal services, media and entertainment, art, non-profits, and more.

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