We have a base that serves as a CRM and application management program for us. I am working on cleaning up the way we take notes on our applicants and clients. We currently have a few different notes fields, but I’m trying to transition us to using a Notes table that links back to the client/application. The problem I’m struggling with is trying to make it as seamless as possible to add notes through an interface.
Let me use a concrete example. We have an interface that is called “Intake Notes”. This interface was set up starting with the Record Review structure and pulls in information from multiple tables. This information is reviewed for accuracy and/or inputted during the intake process. Additionally, there are fields for General Intake Notes and a notes field on Required Documents (in our application process). These are just rich text fields in the interface and easy to add notes to. But if I make these linked records, adding any notes is more complicated, especially without going to a new page.
Another example: we have a dashboard where we review completed applications in the pipeline for review. We have grid view of all these records, and have a field titled “Pipeline Status Notes”. In a meeting with the team that reviews the pipeline, they’ll make occasional notes about various applications in the pipeline. Right now, as it’s a notes field in the grid, it’s easy to do and a seamless part of their notetaking during the meeting.
I have identified a few different options (described below) but all have limitations. Does anyone have options I’m missing or ways they’ve handled this? My preference, for most cases, would be to have a structured form for the note pop up, ideally on the side but at least not on a new page, but I don’t know of anyway to do this.
Identified Options for adding new notes (via linked records)
- Interface Button that activates an automation that creates a linked note
- Minor limitations: 1) Small wait to create (may sometimes need to refresh interface page); 2) After creation, user would have to then click into the record to add
- Major limitations: 1) I would want to do this on multiple interfaces and each interface button would need a new automation. I’m already above 40 automations in this base; 2) This wouldn’t work at all in the pipeline scenario above.
- Interface Button that takes user to a form to create a note
- Limitations: 1) Opens in a new window; 2) Not automatically linked to record; 3) Have to hit “Create” to create record. (Because everything else in Airtable just automatically saves, I’ve found that this final step is very easy to overlook.)
- Current preferred option: Add the linked field as a “Card” to the interface.
- Minor limitations: 1) Have to scoll past other linked notes, which in this case are completely extraneous, to click “Add note”; 2) After clicking “Add Note”, user then has to click “Create New Note” at the top of the pop up. (I think this is a bug, but you don’t have the option “Create New Note” when the linked field is a “pill” or a card not showing any fields, either of which I would prefer in order to minimize limitation #1)
- Major limitation: Doesn’t work for pipeline notes scenario above
If it were possible to add new records in the Grid or Gallery View’s for linked records, that would work well in most scenarios, but it doesn’t seem to be possible. (Very weirdly - another bug I think - I can add a new note in the Gallery View when there are no notes linked but once a record is linked, that option no longer shows. And I did verify that the field allows multiple linked records.)
Under some circumstances, it might make sense to automatically create blank linked notes when conditions are met. Then, the blank linked record would be created and a user would just have to click into the record to add the note text. (For example, we have a stage “Intake Scheduled”. When a client reaches this stage, an intake note could automatically be added.) Relatedly, on the Pipeline status example, the only two viable solutions I can think of are: 1) a check box field visible in the grid that would automatically create a note record linked to the specific client. The team would then click into the new linked record to add the text note; or 2) We keep that Pipeline notes field as is but create an automation to duplicate it as a linked note so it can be part of the overall “notes library” for a given client.
Again, any thoughts or approaches you’ve had to address any similar challenges would be greatly appreciated!
(In general, I am trying to figure out the best way to keep and organize notes on clients, especially when these notes span databases. That’s a larger question, but if you do have successful approaches to adding and organizing client notes, especially across bases, I’d love to hear about those too!)