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Unlocking Complex Business Relationships with SmartSuite's Association Tables

Unlocking Complex Business Relationships with SmartSuite's Association Tables

9 minutes

December 29, 2022

Mastering Relationship Management in SmartSuite: The Power of Association Tables

Welcome to this deep dive into managing intricate networks between entities—we’re talking companies and contacts here. If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled by how to keep a handle on these relationships, particularly in the nebulous world of CRM systems, you’ve hit the right spot!

Our journey starts with John, a SmartSuite enthusiast and baseball parent, who faced a conundrum: how to track the evolving relationships between coaches and their schools. It was crucial for him to be able to look back and pinpoint when a coach served and what role they played—even after they hung up their cap for a new challenge.

Before diving in, let’s set the stage. We're taking John’s sports scenario and giving it a broader corporate twist. Stick with me as I unravel how we typically mirror these ties in CRM systems, coupled with a few smart strategies to capture the layers and nuances.

Understanding the Basic Relationship Structure

In the CRM world, the most basic setup is the 'many-to-one' relationship. Picture a plethora of contacts linked to a single company. This one-to-many structure is the bread and butter of many CRM and no-code platforms, helping us associate multiple individuals with one entity.

Take SmartSuite’s personal CRM template, for example. Within it, you'll find fields like ‘current company’ under contacts, which links to the company app. Simple enough, right? But what about the history, the progression, the tales that dates and titles tell?

Tracing Historical Relationships

For many, knowing that a contact changed companies suffices. Using SmartSuite, you can peep into their activity history and note the transitions. Yet, if you’re like John and me—thirsty for details like tenure and roles that morphed over time—it’s not just about the 'where' but the 'when' and the 'what'. And for those threads of past experiences, you'll need a nifty feature—enter 'former companies'.

But wait, what if we need more insights? What if tracking the sheer number of companies isn't enough? What about the specific dates or the varied hats worn at different junctures? This, my friends, is where we up our game with an intricate yet elegant solution: the ‘association table.’

Crafting the Ultimate Solution: Association Tables

Think of association tables as the master key that unlocks the ability to collate additional data points—the where, who, when, and what of contacts' experiences. SmartSuite calls these 'association apps.' Essentially, they’re the linchpin that sits snuggly between our contacts and companies, helping us chart the journey from point A to B and beyond.

Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into a practical example. We’ll whip up an app called 'work experience' to capture the fusion of contacts and companies. Sprinkle in some fields for tenure and roles, and voila! We have a customized logbook of each professional voyage mapped out in one spot.

Consider Angela, whose work journey we’re plotting. We can easily input her stints—Managing Director at Bloomjoy, in January 2016 till June 2018, followed by her ascent to CEO at Rebel Brands—each entry weaving together dates, titles, and companies into a coherent storyline.

With SmartSuite, pulling up Angela’s work experience is a cinch. Opening her contact record unfolds her professional tapestry clearly, showcasing her ascension and the impacts she must have had at each juncture.

"Using association apps like SmartSuite’s 'work experience' transforms the depth of data you can handle, elevating your understanding of professional relationships to a new level."

The Takeaway

What this boils down to is the unrivaled power of capturing the full spectrum of professional associations. By employing association tables or apps, you harness the capability to peer into the history books of companies and employees, tapping into the rich tapestry that shapes their stories over time.

This powerful construct is a staple you should frequently leverage. And here's a pro tip: Experiment with it, mold it to your design, and watch as it illuminates the intricate paths of professional lives within your databases.

To experience SmartSuite's key benefits for yourself, start a free trial today and explore its intuitive work management platform.