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Full Smartsheet Project Management Software Review. All you need to know about Smartsheet

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What is Smartsheet?

Smartsheet is project management and collaboration software that enables teams to better communicate and collaborate together. It uses an intuitive and simple interface that will instantly be familiar to anybody used to working with spreadsheets.  The solution includes project management functionality including document and resource management, reporting and time-tracking. Issue management is also available as an optional extra.

The core objective of the program is to make spreadsheet data more dynamic. That means expanding the traditional functionality of rows and columns to include drop-down menus, dates, checklists, symbols, contact lists, and more. Hierarchies can be added to task lists, tasks linked, and Gantt charts created. Conditional formatting allows users to define parameters and create “what-if” scenarios.

The program is used across a range of industries, and can be scaled from the individual user and start-ups, to multi-national enterprise organisations.

The vendor’s current client roster includes global brand names like Netflix, Bayer, Hilton, HP and Cisco.  It claims that it is used by more than 76,000 leading brands and 96% of the Fortune 100 Companies.

Benefits

The principal benefits of the solution are:

Simple to use

For anybody that is already familiar with spreadsheets, Smartsheet is simple to use with a user-friendly and intuitive interface.  Teams are able to quickly build plans and configure the software without the need for dedicated IT resource, and without having to spend much time learning the program.  Shared views, a detailed history, and activity logs promote transparency.

Extended capabilities

Despite this, it is more powerful than an ordinary spreadsheet because it has been designed as a collaboration tool, with interactive alerts, real-time visibility, powerful visuals, and useful integrations with third party applications.  It is designed to reduce activities that damage productivity in many organisations, such as endless email conversations and threads, information silos, and excessive meetings.

The solution also offers automatic reminders when tasks and projects are due, which significantly reduces the risk that critical milestones and deadlines will be missed. At the same time, potential roadblocks and bottlenecks can be identified in advance, so that appropriate and timely action can be taken to address the problems.

Reporting and Dashboards

Dashboards and reports offer users access to information in real-time, enabling them to make better, data-driven business decisions. Key reports offered include Gantt charts, Critical Path and Card Views, and a Calendar View.  All dashboards are fully customisable, so users can ensure that the information that is most important to them is highlighted, with appropriate key metrics displayed.

Sharing Capabilities

The program endeavours to make collaboration quick and easy. Subscribers can share an entire sheet with other users, or just part of it. At the same time they can set different permission levels in order to control who, amongst their contacts, is able to do what.

Workflow Automation

Smartsheet enables uses to create, without the need for any coding, work process automations, through the use of simple rules. Custom forms can be created to collect organised and consistent data.

Multiple Views

The program enables uses and project owners to view information in a variety of ways. Grids can be used to organise tasks, Gantt charts to display timelines, cards to create online Kanban boards, and calendars to visualise due dates.

Mobile Accessible

Not only does Smartsheet offer native mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as Kindle Fire, but the program itself can be accessed from any web-enabled device as well.

Third Party Integrations

The solution offers users multiple integrations with third-party systems and programs to extend the functionality of the system, with an open API that enables system developers to build their own integrations with their existing business applications. Furthermore, it offers integration with Google and Microsoft products.

Features

The main features of Smartsheet are:

Project Management Tools

Smartsheet offers a comprehensive range of project management tools which empower teams to collaborate together with speed and accountability, enabling successful outcomes to be achieved faster. Tasks can be viewed through visual tools like Gantt charts, and card and calendar views, whilst files can be attached from programs like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive, to ensure that all team members are on the same page. Automatic update reports help to streamline work, whilst data access can be controlled with secure and intuitive user permissions.

Critical Path

Users are able to highlight quickly the key tasks in any project timeline with a Critical Path. This enables them to see, at a glance, which tasks are vital for project success. A Gantt chart can be set-up with key dependencies, and predecessor columns, to create the Critical Path. Crucial timeline elements will be outlined in red, and the chart can be shared in pdf form with colleagues to ensure that everybody is kept informed about the status of a project.

Cards

Smartsheet uses colour-coded cards as an effective visual method of defining tasks or ideas. Borrowed from Kanban project management techniques, cards can be categorised into lanes to make workflows easier to understand, whilst any changes to a card can be immediately shared with an entire team. In addition, cards can be moved from one lane to another with a simple click, whilst filters allow users only to view what is important to them. Cards can be shared by email or input can be requested from other team members.

Forms

Forms are a simple way to capture and act on information. In Smartsheet, forms can be easily built and customised through a user-friendly interface which makes it easy to gather consistent and error-free data, both from within an organisation itself, and from external stakeholders, which can then be saved into the system. This makes it easy to see the status of various items, and to take appropriate action. Forms can be shared with others via a unique link, and files and pictures attached to them.

Forms are suitable for a variety of applications, such as event registration, collecting customer feedback, field ticket collection, and more.

Grids

Grids enable users and project managers to create a unified and customised view of their projects. This helps them to monitor key variables, and to keep project teams on track. They can also be utilised for activities such as event planning, due diligence lists, managing audit and compliance, and more.

All grids can be customised with multiple column types, including date, contact, symbols and more, Information can be organised and displayed visually through the use of row hierarchy, conditional formatting, and formula. Automation rules to prompt project status updates and keep tracks on task can also easily be set-up within any sheet. Related materials can also be attached and updates provided with in-row comments.

Dashboards

Smartsheet offers a range of fully customisable dashboards which offer project owners and other interested parties a real-time view of business-critical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), critical trends and summary performance reports. Easy to use widgets display charts, live data and more, and users can customise their dashboards so what is most important to them is highlighted, without any need for assistance from IT professionals.  Anytime, anywhere access helps keep team members informed, engaged and accountable.

Portals

Centralised portals can be created which help bring teams together and stay up-to-date. Through a portal, all team information can be centralised and updated in one place, helping to reduce the amount of time that is typically wasted because of multiple versions of files or spreadsheets.

Portals can be customised as required with text, images, widgets, and a drag-and-drop user interface. Real-time, cloud-based access enables teams to work and update documents remotely, from virtually any device. Users can also attach live links to Smartsheet, or to any integrated cloud document management system like Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.

Smart Calendars

Calendars in Smartsheet provide users with an interactive and complete view of project activities, and significant milestones and deadlines.

Users have the option of importing into the program their existing calendars from Google Calendar or iCal; alternatively, they can choose to customise the pre-built calendar interface to match their needs. Calendars can be either securely published online, or else embedded within the system in places where team members are most likely to see them. All calendars can be instantly viewed and edited, or exported into third party applications.

Collaboration Tools

Whilst Smartsheet does not offer a real-time chat facility, it does have collaborative features. Worksheets can be shared with colleagues with different permissions, but they can also be added to what are called Workspaces within the program. A Workspace is a common area which is shared amongst a team, each member of which can upload files, and see and edit associated sheets. They can also leave in-line comments on the individual lines within a sheet. These remain hidden until a user clicks on them.

The program offers cell-linking functionality, enabling data to be linked across multiple sheets. This can be useful, for example, for those looking to consolidate departmental budgets or to create cross-project dependencies.

Pricing

Smartsheet offers one pricing plan for individuals, and three for businesses. All plans offer tools like grids, cards Gantt charts and calendar views, collaboration features like simple sharing, comments, attachments, forums, alerts and integration with leading chat tools, and third party integrations and APIs.

Individual (US $14 per month): This plan offers free templates and unlimited free collaborators.

Business (US $25 per user per month): This plan is for a minimum of three licences, and offers additional functionality in terms of data visualisation with dashboards and charts, activity logs to track progress, automated workflows, extended data analytics and consolidated reporting. It also offers customised branding.

Enterprise: This is offered on a quotation-only basis. Interested parties should contact the vendor directly for further details. The Enterprise Plan offers all the capabilities of the Business Plan, plus SSO (Single Sign-On), enhanced security and access controls and further group admin and systems features.

Premium: Again this is available only on a quotation basis. It is essentially the Enterprise Plan with premium support, apps and application connectors included within the package.

(It should be noted that these monthly prices apply when billed annually).

The vendor offers a 30-day free trial period – prospective users are not required to provide their credit card details.

Technical

Smartsheet is a cloud-hosted web-based platform that supports Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. In addition, there are native mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as Kindle Fire, although it does not auto-save on mobile devices.

Smartsheet offers pre-built connection with existing file management programs like Google Drive, Box and Dropbox. There is also an open REST (Representational State Transfer) API which allows users to integrate the platform with popular CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Project Management, and Marketing programs, as well as other third party solutions, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Jira, MailChimp and Zapier. In addition, the platform integrates with Google and Microsoft products.

In terms of security, Smartsheet works with top-tier hosting partners who offer multi-site data redundancy, and 24/7 production environment management.  All data centers and protocols are subject to regular reviews and audits by independent industry consultants. Furthermore, all user data is encrypted using 256-bit TLS (transport layer security) technology, which is the same as that used by banks and major financial institutions.

Support

Direct support is primarily provided through an online ticketing system; whilst the company can be contacted by email or phone, this is primarily for sales-based enquiries. There is also a live chat facility available on the company’s website.

The vendor can also be contacted through social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

In terms of self-service resources, the company offers a Knowledge Base which contains product guides and tips, as well as help articles. There is also an online community where subscribers can get help from other Smartsheet users, and share ideas and suggestions for new project features. There are also FAQs, a Learning Center, product demos and webinars, and a blog which features product-themed articles.

Smartsheet offers a paid consulting service to its customers to assist with effective system implementation and deployment, whilst the vendor offers a range of training opportunities – classroom-based, virtual team-based and self-learning. Users have the option of taking to Smartsheet Certification exam to demonstrate their prowess with the application.

Apart from English, Smartsheet also supports French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese.