Smartsheet is a cloud-based project management platform that allows its users to plan, organize, manage, and report on work. Its core capabilities include multiple ways of visualizing data such as Kanban cards, Gantt and calendar views, customizable templates, and powerful collaboration tools that include discussions and client proofing features. Smartsheet also boasts workflow automations, ensuring that tasks move smoothly from one stage to another.
On the other hand, Smartsheet does not have a modern interface and its paid plans are expensive. It does not have an automatic in-built time-tracking tool, though an integration can compensate for this. Smartsheet is best suited for large companies that require a robust spreadsheet-database hybrid tool.
In this Smartsheet review, we will explore project management features, pricing, ease of use, add-ons, and more.
What is Smartsheet?
Smartsheet is a work execution and project collaboration platform that specializes in spreadsheets and data manipulation. Founded in 2005 by Brent Frei and Mark Mader, Smartsheet has opened additional offices worldwide in major cities like London, Sydney, Edinburgh, and Boston.
Their customers hail from over 190 countries and over 83,000 companies like Netflix, McGraw Hill, Oglivy use Smartsheet as their go-to project management software.
Facts and Figures
|Founder||Mark Mader, Brent Frei|
|Headquarters||Bellevue, Washington, USA|
Smartsheet Project Management Features
Smartsheet is a comprehensive, spreadsheet-based project management software, making it suitable for teams that want to perform complex data manipulation. It features a broad range of project views, including Kanban, Gantt charts, Grid, and Calendar views. Smartsheet’s workflow automation features also allow project managers to customize all types of workflows, eliminating repetitive tasks and manual approvals. Teams can collaborate internally and externally with discussions, as well as allocate resources across projects. Proofing for clients and other external stakeholders is also possible with Smartsheet.
Smartsheet supports multiple data views such as grids, cards, Gantt charts, and calendar views. These visual methods of displaying data create a unified, customized view of projects and make visualizing project timelines easier. Teams using Smartsheet can also benefit from powerful task management capabilities, such as creating task dependencies and using pre-installed task and to-do lists. Smartsheet also supports customized workflow automations that include approvals, status updates, and reminders.
Gantt charts are essential in project management as they demonstrate the relationship between tasks, milestones, and deadlines. To use the Gantt feature in Smartsheet, teams need to have at least two date columns in their sheet: a start date and an end date. Project managers can also color-code Gantt bars, create dependencies between tasks, set the critical path of projects. Teams can also use hierarchy to create summary rows for further organizations of projects.
Smartsheet supports a variety of data visualizations, including Kanban boards (also known as Card view). In Smartsheet, teams can update Kanban cards with custom fields such as description, due dates, priority, and more. Team members can also add images, documents, and comments. Users can drag and drop cards to update statuses, filter cards and lanes to view workflows from multiple perspectives.
Smartsheet’s task management features, such as creating and managing tasks, are easy to use. Smartsheet’s application comes installed with a task and to-do list designed to give users a headstart in executing tasks. Project managers can also assign these tasks to team members with varying levels of permissions to view, edit, and manage the sheet itself. In addition to Kanban and Gantt views, Smartsheet also features a Calendar view and Grid view, giving users different ways of visualizing work.
If a task grows and needs to be broken down into smaller tasks, Smartsheet allows users to add rows that contain sub-tasks to organize hierarchy and provide more information. Links and attachments can also be included while describing a task in further detail. Teams can also use Smartsheet’s collection of templates to start projects, saving time and effort in the long run.
Smartsheet allows teams to automate work processes with a series of connected actions, ensuring that tasks move smoothly from one stage to another. Smartsheet’s workflow automations combine multiple scenarios and actions that trigger specific results, such as approvals, status updates, alerts, and reminders. Project managers can customize elements such as the trigger block, condition block, action block, and condition path. This flexibility allows teams to set up the best workflow practices for their needs.
Communication & Collaboration
Smartsheet’s collaboration features are great for close work collaboration such as giving and receiving feedback. Teams can hold discussions via the Conversations feature, tag a team member, and attach files and documents. Clients can also use the client proofing feature, which allows them to annotate documents and send high-level feedback. Teams can also store files up to 250MB and send them to each other, keeping all project materials in a centralized location.
Smartsheet provides teams with the ability to upload and store files in a sheet, row, or comment via the Attachments icon in the right panel. It supports a large variety of file formats, including PDF, DOCX, JPG, and more. Users can upload 100 files at a time and each file has a file size limit of 250MB. Teams can also upload and track files from a third-party file-sharing application such as Google Drive and OneDrive.
Smartsheet’s proofing feature allows project managers and admins to review a team’s content, give feedback, and log approval decisions. While proofing, users can edit written content, markup, and annotate images and PDFs. Smartsheet also keeps a running tally of the number of users who have approved the proof and the number of users who have yet to review it. The proofing feature is available to external collaborators and clients who want to give feedback on a task.
Additionally, multiple users can edit a sheet simultaneously, and all changes are updated and reflected in real-time.
Team members in Smartsheet can hold real-time discussions and send feedback to each other via the Conversations feature. Conversations can apply to a specific sheet or a specific row or card in a sheet. Users can tag a team member with the @ symbol, reply to an existing comment, edit, email, print, or delete a comment. To provide more context to a comment, users can also attach files and documents.
Resource Allocation & Planning
With Smartsheet’s resource management features, teams can track and review how time and money are allocated across a project. Project managers can create a project budget from scratch or use a budget template from Smartsheet’s template collection. Team members can also manually enter time spent on tasks or opt for a third-party integration that tracks and logs time automatically.
10,000ft also enables project managers to manage time resources in projects. Teams can set up a budget based on time and labor allocated expressed in work hours or days. The hours worked by the team weighs against this budget. This feature comes in handy when hiring freelancers or hiring extra workers.
Nevertheless, Smartsheet does not have an in-built timer that automatically logs time spent on tasks, so users will have to install an integration such as ClickTime.
Smartsheet’s 10,000ft, a resource management platform, empowers users to better track budgets and financial expenses. Teams can create a project budget in a preferred currency based on the estimated project costs and put in the number of hours worked by the team. For non-labor related costs, users can also set up a budget based on project expenses such as costs incurred when hiring outside vendors, ordering prototypes, and travel costs. Examples of expense categories include travel, materials, and consultants.
Finally, teams not using 10,000ft can obtain a budget report template from Smartsheet’s template collection, also known as the Solution Center.
Project managers can use Smartsheet’s project-specific and cross-project resource views for a summary of all resource allocation. When a resource is overbooked, Smartsheet sends an alert to the project manager, reminding them to manage the resource allocation percentage per task so that team members are not overloaded with work.
Smartsheet offers four paid plans billed on an annual basis: Individual, Business, Enterprise, and Premier. On the Individual and Business plans, teams have access to different data views, dashboards, attachments, alerts, and reminders. The Individual plan starts at $14 per user, per month, whereas the Business plan starts at $25 per user, per month.
The Enterprise and Premier plans, geared towards large teams and organizations, unlock features such as unlimited sheets, extensive security and administrative controls, configurable file storage options, access to premium add-ons, and more.
Non-profit organizations on a Smartsheet plan are also eligible to receive annual discounts. Visit Smartsheet’s pricing page for more details.
Teams using Smartsheet can enjoy industry-grade security measures taken by the company to safeguard customer data. All customer data is stored with NIST approved ciphers, proven transport layer security (TLS) technology, and encrypted with AES-256 when at rest. Smartsheet is also GDPR compliant. Smartsheet works with top-tier hosting partners such as Equinix and Amazon Web Services facilities to host customer data. All of their facilities are ICPA SOC 1 examined and tested and ISO 27001 certified.
As far as physical security goes, Smartsheeet’s monitoring of data includes biometric scanning protocols, continuous surveillance, and the company regularly hires third-party security professionals to run access audits. All data is limited to authorized members of the Smartsheet Technical Operations team and they frequently implement updated countermeasures to prevent unauthorized access or unplanned downtime to Smartsheet’s services.
Teams on the Enterprise plan can also activate SAML-SSO that only allows employees with certified company credentials to log into Smartsheet. Other forms of authentication include Google Account, Apple ID, and Microsoft Office 365.
Smartsheet works seamlessly with other popular third-party applications such as Slack, Jira, Salesforce, and Microsoft Outlook. When integrated with Jira, Smartsheet provides transparency to IT and software development projects as it tracks issues and bugs. With Salesforce, Smartsheet allows teams to automate critical processes like pipeline review and forecasting and making bulk updates. Here are some other integrations:
- Google Inbox
- Google Drive
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Excel
- Skype for Business
While Smartsheet is a powerful and functional tool for any team looking into project management software, its user interface is not particularly modern. Nonetheless, it is easy to use and features a basic spreadsheet design with a grid view. On the left, users can find the navigation menu, which provides access to “Most Recent Items”, “Favorites”, “Home Screen”, and the “Solution Center”. Compared to other spreadsheet-based software like Microsoft Excel, Smartsheet makes spreadsheets user-friendly and accessible.
However, since it is a cloud-based tool filled with extensive features, Smartsheet can sometimes feel glitchy or unresponsive. For non-spreadsheet users, Smartsheet may also take some time getting used to.
The Smartsheet mobile apps for iOS and Android devices enable users to work on the go regardless of where they are. It gives real-time access to data and information can be updated easily in editable grid. Teams can also track progress on dashboards, fill out forms to collect data, and complete a range of activities starting from adding photos from smartphones to updating requests.
Smartsheet offers its users a variety of customer support options:
Learning Center: Smartsheet’s Learning Center provides helpful tutorials in a self-paced format that teaches users how to use Smartsheet. Teams on the Individual and Business plans can also purchase self-paced and individual training sessions.
Smartsheet Community: The Community is a forum where users can post threads and questions about Smartsheet.
Direct support: Smartsheet offers email support to all of its customers via a form submission. Additionally, Business plan users can also purchase phone support and professional support where a Smartsheet expert directly assists in business challenges.
For Enterprise and Premier users, email support, phone support, and self-paced training are provided in the subscriptions. Professional support and individual training are also available for purchase.
Smartsheet is a flexible project management tool that gives users a lot of control over their data, but it is a spreadsheet-based option. For companies that do not require a grid view of information and tasks, here are some alternatives:
Smartsheet is a cloud-based versatile project management tool with a firm grounding in spreadsheets. It takes ordinary functions in Excel and injects additional capabilities in them, providing businesses a logical and systematic approach to keeping track of data. Smartsheet also offers multiple views of data, including grid, Gantt, calendar, and card views. Other features such as workflow automation and project budgeting allow teams to have better control over their projects.
Nonetheless, users who are not familiar with spreadsheet-based software might find Smartsheet challenging to manage. Its user interface is also not the most modern and user-friendly. Furthermore, coming in at $14 per user, Smartsheet is not the cheapest project management tool out there for small businesses. Nonetheless, Smartsheet is a great candidate for any team looking for a spreadsheet-based tool with task management features.