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How to Automate an Approval Process in Airtable

Mar 09, 2020

An approval process is an important check and balance for any business. As your team grows and you add layers of complexity to an operation, you'll want to empower your leadership with a clean and simple way to manage. For this, you can leverage the power of Airtable and Zapier to organize and automate the necessary steps.

In this tutorial, I walk through an enhanced approval process that we've built to help run our home. Instead of going the business route, I wanted to share how you can manage and approve chores for an unruly teenager. Let's face it, teenagers are WAY more difficult to manage than employees in most cases!

As always, you'll want to start with the proper database structure in Airtable. The tricky part about this system is that we track chores at multiple levels. There's the 'Payout' level that includes multiple days (we pay allowance weekly). You'll also track chores on a daily basis, which we call a 'Chore Submission.' Lastly, each submission includes multiple details which warrant their own table, called 'Chore Detail.'

The structure is critical, but the system is incomplete without automation. For this process, we include five different automations.

  • First, the database needs to create a new Payout record for each week of allowance due.
  • Second, the chores must be submitted each day - we use an automated form with a text message for this
  • Third, the responses to each submission must be recorded in the database and the people responsible for approval must be notified
  • Fourth, each Submission must be appropriately linked to the proper Payout - no one wants to do this manually!
  • Fifth, once all submissions have been evaluated (and approved!) for a Payout, texts are sent to update all parties involved.

Automated processes like this definitely take time to build, but the time (not to mention energy) saved on the back-end is massive! It's processes like this that have helped me to reclaim 10 hours of my workweek back with the help of automation.

What things have you been putting off automating?


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