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There are many applications that let you track customers, projects and jobs. If you’ve chosen Airtable, congratulations, it’s an excellent choice for this purpose! Here’s how to track customers, projects, and tasks with airtable.
Airtable is a database.
That means you have a bunch of lists or tables, each meant to track specific and detailed information about a certain thing.
When you look at accounting software like QuickBooks Online, this will make a lot of sense.
I have a customer list. An account list (aka chart of accounts). A vendor list, and so on.
If you want to track customers, projects, and tasks with Airtable, you have to do the same thing.
A “base” in Airtable is made up of tables.
Let’s start by creating a table for each “THING” that we want a list for, so we can connect and track all of the “things.”
It might look like this to start with as a list of tables to build:
Staff (both in house and subcontracted)
You might even include a table or list of your services. This can come in handy.
Next we need to know what information we will want to track in each list.
I highly recommend dynalist for this. It makes it easy to plan out something just like this, and it is much easier that way, then if you realize after you are hours into building your database, that you forgot a critical component.
This is especially important, because as you’ll see, when I am setting up my projects, I’ll need the staff list in place, so I can link to that table, giving the ability to assign the person in charge of the project. So you wan to build the staff table first. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do this planning, but it will definitely save time to map it out before you start creating this in Aritable.
Once you setup your base to track customers, projects, and tasks with Airtable, the key is going to be in how you use the “views.”
Views in Airtable are like reports. Sure you can filter the grid when you need to, but if there is one particular filter (like only show tasks that are open (not completed) that you will use frequently, you should save that view.
To recap there are really two keys to get Airtable set up to track customers, projects, and tasks really well.
The first key is in setting up your tables properly.
The second key is in using the views to capture the information in various forms that make it easy to analyze and understand.
Watch the video and see how to do this
I can’t keep up! There are so many apps to use. Can’t there just be one app that does everything? This is what people are frequently asking in some way, shape, or form, every single day. Use Airtable to track your App Ecosystem. Airtable is the best solution I’ve seen to date. It has everything you need, and a whole lot of things you wouldn’t have thought of that make it a whole lot of awesome!
Asking for one app that does everything is like walking into a car dealership and asking if the car comes with a kitchen, bath, and office. Then again, you can probably get an RV that fits that description.
Let’s use Airtable to see what we need to track so we can decide what apps we need. First we need to know what problems we need to solve.
You can’t buy the gas before you have a car!
Many people do this backwards. They start looking at apps to see what they might need. That’s a recipe for instant overwhelm.
Imagine walking around a car dealership with a gas can, trying to decide which car you’ll put the gas in?
Apps are there to fill a need. So first we need to define our needs. Then we research the apps that fill them.
Let’s look at the following App Genres
- Project Management
- Social media management
- Marketing (email)
That’s a good start. Now we need a place where we can research and document the many apps that we can choose from. Of course I am recommending that you use Airtable for this!
Then we want a way to track what we’ve chosen.
At a certain point you have to choose something and try it.
You’ll still want to use Airtable and keep this database as a resource, in case you think there might be something better out there. As time goes on, new needs will arise, and new apps will need to be employed. you might want to employ a good note taking app, like Evernote right off the bat. But there are other choices that you might like better.
- Zoho Notebook (check it out. It’s really cool!)
- Google Keep – simple, but powerful
- Penzu – I love this app, but I don’t love the company’s presence (or lack thereof) online.
Also, depending on what you do for a living, this in itself may become a service you can offer your clients – helping them figure this out. So you might want to track information about their affiliate programs.
This is another important part of your research. You might love an app, but if you’re a new startup, you may not have the budget for some of them. This means you will also want to track the number of users needed for each app, because in almost every case, this will drive the cost, and which plan you’ll need for each app.
Let’s take a look at how you can use Airtable to track your app ecosystem. You’re going to love it!
Get Airtable → Click here
My upcoming webinar on Airtable is next month! Register here. After that the same link will take you to where you can purchase the recording.
I’ve seen many accounting and bookkeeping professionals struggle to figure out what to use to manage their engagements.
I think many of the tools out there can work, but I have settled in on one as my top choice. It is an out of the box solution that has everything you need to set up command central for all of your accounting projects. Here’s how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab.
Ultimately you’ll want to create a template, so that every time you have a new client, you have the foundation set up in a click. But first, I suggest setting up a dummy project so you can play around with what you need.
The trick is in how you set up your task lists. This is the backbone of how your project is structured.
Some of you are going to want to set these up based on frequency, such as monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Don’t DO This!
You can set up recurring tasks in Activecollab, so using your task lists in this manner is redundant.
You’re wasting the feature.
As I’ve often taught, when it comes to compiling, and then managing a set of books, it all comes down to the balance sheet. At last year’s QuickBooks Connect, during my talk I mentioned that I set up my Slack Workspaces this way. We create channels for major areas of the balance sheet.
- Accounts Receivable.
- Inventory if applicable.
- Accounts Payable
- Payroll (liabilities)
- Sales Tax
- Owner’s Equity
This makes sense, because these are all of the things that have to be “managed” in order to keep the books up to date and accurate.
Using the balance sheet as your guide is how you manage your accounting projects more effectively. Activecollab is the tool.
You set up task lists based on the major areas of the balance sheet that you have to manage. So ours looks something like this:
- Client Onboarding
- Cash Flow Projections
- Accounts Receivable
- Accounts Payable
- Sales Tax
- Owner’s Equity
Of course you can add other things as you go.
Notice I started with some non-balance sheet items as well. The inbox is the default. This is where emails go when they are forwarded, and they can easily be moved to the appropriate list from there.
This is pretty straightforward. It’s the tasks that need to get completed in order to on board the client. Once this part is complete, just like a task, you can mark an entire task list complete. This means the information is there in case you need to reference it later on, but it’s out of the way when you have completed the process.
This is that list of tasks that will generally never be completed. This is the specific part that turns activecollab into command central. In other words, whenever it’s time to work on a client, Activecollab is the one and only place you need to go for access to any / everything else having to do with that client.
I create tasks with links to the client’s Google Drive folders, Smartsheet Workspace, and even the company profile in Nimble (our cloud based CRM).
The Balance Sheet
Then we start with the balance sheet areas as task lists.
First is the Bank Accounts task list. The first, and most obvious thing is that you will have recurring monthly tasks to reconcile each account based on the account’s statement closing date.
The rest of this should be pretty self explanatory. You create the task lists to keep the tasks organized by area. Then you start creating tasks and assigning them to people as needed.
Active Collab has an amazing report module that lets you view things anyway you need. Think “Pivot Table” for your project management data.
The notes are really useful for keeping track of… well… notes! I use this for meeting notes, when I have a call with the client. We also have a standard note built into our project template called, “About Client X.” This is where we keep general information about the client.
As your team grows, this can be a useful way to give new hires a place to go to read and learn about the client. A knowledge base of sorts.
As I am growing the consulting arm of Nerd Enterprises, Inc. I am more focused on streamlining every single process. I think about what I want in place, so that as I hire new people, I can automate the process of training them on the clients they’re assigned as much as possible.
I don’t use this in Activecollab, because Slack handles this much better.
You can also use labels in Activecollab to further organize your tasks. These can be used in any way you like, but remember not to waste a feature on something, where there is already a process for it. Some people want to use labels for due date proximity, as in:
As long as you have assigned due dates to everything, the above can be accomplished through reports. The WIP option can be accomplished by assigning both start, and due dates to tasks.
The key to understanding how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab or any product is learning everything it can do. When you learn every feature that a product has, then you can understand how to avoid redundancies, as well as simply how to get the most out of the product.
Activecollab is easy to use, and as I mentioned above, it is an out of the box, ready solution for managing all of your engagements.
Once you have outlined your sample project, you can use that as a guide for building your template. The video above will show you how to set up a project, and then a template for how to manage your accounting projects more effectively with Activecollab.