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Capture Historical Data Snapshots in Airtable

airtable Aug 31, 2020

The most powerful feature of Airtable is that it is a relational database. However, this very capability can often prove troublesome. More specifically, a relational database is outstanding at presenting the current state of things. However, it's not always the best fit for demonstrating historical data.

For example, imagine you have an inventory tracking database built in Airtable. As new supplies are received, you add them to your growing list. As items are built and sold, they are instantly subtracted. You can always see your current inventory numbers at a glance... great system, right?

Yes, EXCEPT you have no way of knowing how your inventory looked 10 days ago, or 10 months ago. It's always showing you one thing: the current state of affairs. If you want to figure out your inventory levels from the past, you have to do a ton of math to remove received supplies and add back sold items. This (clearly) makes it difficult to make some business decisions.

But now, thanks to the new Airtable Automations feature, it's a simple task to build a historical record of your database by capturing snapshots in time. With this automation and corresponding database architecture, you can easily grab the current state of your inventory (pipeline score, accounts receivable, etc.) and memorialize the values at a point in time. Now, as changes are made to your database, they won't impact this hard-coded snapshot!

Credit: the core idea for this automation was first shared by one of our incredible Group Coaching students!

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