Smartsheet Review
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Smartsheet Review

Sometimes it’s the numbers that really matter. If spreadsheets and data are the driving force behind your projects, find out if Smartsheet is the right project management tool for your team.

Quick Hits

What We Like

  • Extensive customization capabilities
  • Multiple task management and overview options
  • Stellar customer support options

Could Be Better

  • Difficult to navigate at times
  • Steeper learning curve
  • Steep pricing

The Blueprint Score

Determined and ranked by our resident expert based on firsthand knowledge and unbiased research.

Ease of Use 6/10
Support 9/10
Pricing 5/10
Features 9/10
7.0 out of 10
Updated April 22, 2020

Some products provide new experiences and fresh takes on completing certain tasks, obstacles, and issues. In my opinion, Smartsheet is not one of these products, which is unfortunate. While this platform has a lot to offer users, it struggles to break out and make something for itself.

This tool relies on old and worn out features that you can find in other products, some of which are offered at a better price, even free. The way I see it, Smartsheet is a glorified spreadsheet program with a few additional features you wouldn’t find in other spreadsheet programs.

Overview

Who is Smartsheet for?

Smartsheet is for the project manager that loves the versatility of an Excel spreadsheet but is looking for more in terms of functionality, reporting, and visual flair.

This platform is definitely inspired by Microsoft’s interface style, opting for a function toolbar at the top of every window and similar navigation system as most Microsoft Office products.

However, this nearly identical setup to Microsoft’s gives Smartsheet a slight learning curve if you’re more experienced with other project management tools such as Wrike or Asana.

In essence, Smartsheet takes everything fun about spreadsheets introduced by other tools like Airtable and brings them back down into a more corporate world. This tool is better suited for corporate projects than creatively driven marketing teams.

In fact, I believe Smartsheet is explicitly suited for those implementing a lean project management strategy where measuring productivity and minimizing product inventory (for the sake of keeping costs low and quality high) are the key pillars for success.

Features

Smartsheet’s features

Smartsheet offers nearly every feature that a project manager would need to manage and complete the tasks at hand. Finding those features while using the software is a different story at times.

Management and planning features:

  • Task prioritization and scheduler: Smartsheet gives you the choice between their standard spreadsheet (grid) view, a Gantt chart, a card view suited for scrum ceremonies, and a calendar view. You have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to project planning.
  • Shared team calendar: As mentioned in the previous bullet point, Smartsheet offers a shared calendar view which displays tasks extending over the time period they are meant to be completed.
  • Time tracking: The flexibility of Smartsheet’s grid view allows you to create time tracking fields.
  • Resource management: All of your project resources are trackable through the customizability of Smartsheet’s grid view.

Document storage

Smartsheet includes a file column in each spreadsheet where you can upload images, documents, and other relevant files for each individual task.

Collaboration features:

  • Communication: Smartsheet includes a commenting column so team members and project managers can communicate progress for each individual task in the grid sheet.
  • Team dashboards: Dashboards are custom created by the user based on the selected data in the project grid sheet. Unlike many other project management solutions, these dashboards are not automatically set up for you.

Budgeting features:

  • Budget reports: You can create and render detailed financial reports in Smartsheet all sorted by hours, days, and amounts.
  • Budget dashboards: Just like the team dashboards, budget dashboards are custom made through selected project metrics from the grid sheet.
Ease of Use

Smartsheet’s ease of use

Right off the bat, you’ll know whether the Smartsheet software will be an easy or difficult tool for you to learn. If you’re highly skilled with spreadsheets and understand all of the benefits they provide, then Smartsheet will be a cakewalk.

However, if you’re more used to a traditional project management software setup offered by tools like Mavenlink, Asana, or Jira, then you’re likely to face a learning curve, as I found out the hard way.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t have any experience with spreadsheets, because I’m decently skilled in Excel and Google Sheets. That being said, I’m not as talented as I wish I was. What’s more, I found Smartsheet a little difficult to navigate.

Creating a project in this tool was easy enough thanks to the extensive list of templates to choose from, but I struggled once I ventured out looking for other features such as reporting or dashboards.

A screenshot of  Smarsheet's project templates and integrations

Smartsheets has lots of project templates and integrations to choose from.

Eventually, I had to lean on Smartsheet’s knowledge base in order to figure out how to take advantage of these features and discovered that nearly everything you do is built through your grid, which is their term for spreadsheet.

In fact, I used Smartsheet’s knowledge base for about half of the features I tested on this platform. One of the few features I found easily was the task management views button, which is located on the grid view toolbar.

Smartsheets different project management tools at glance.

Switching between the grid, calendar, Gantt, and card views was as easy as picking from this dropdown menu.

The Gantt, calendar, and card views were a little unremarkable in terms of their user interface, but their functionality was fantastic.

The Gantt view was very reminiscent of Microsoft Project with the grid view remaining on the left while the chart populates on the right. As you add tasks and dates, the Gantt chart will populate these durations into the chart complete with names and dependencies if you add them.

These functions are crucial when building out the project timeline in your scope of work or project proposal, and Smartsheet is definitely up to the task.

Screenshot of Smartsheet’s Gantt charts for project management.

Smartsheet’s Gantt charts are unremarkable looking yet very functional.

As for simpler tasks that I was able to figure out on my own, my knowledge of spreadsheets came in handy. Creating new tasks is as simple as right-clicking a row, inserting a new one beneath, and filling out the cell details to represent a new task, including due dates, task status, user assignment, attachments, and comments.

As for adding additional task fields, all you’ll have to do is right-click on one of the column headers and select either “insert column left” or “insert column right.”

You’ll find no standard task or field buttons like in other project tools. Instead, you’ll have to perform every function as if you’re using Excel or sometimes, Microsoft Project.

You just have to decide whether or not that is the type of project management experience you are looking for and if it’s worth the price tag Smartsheet commands.

Pricing

Smartsheet’s pricing

Speaking of price tags, I was surprised what users are asked to pay for this software option:

  • Individual: $14/month — One official user plus limited access for collaborators, unlimited spreadsheets, great for cross-functional teams, integrations, templates, and automated workflows
  • Business: $25/month per user — All previous features, plus dashboards, activity log, reporting, custom branding
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing — All previous features, plus enhanced administrative controls, system admin features
  • Premier: Contact for pricing — All previous features, plus premium support, premium apps, premium integrations (Salesforce, Jira, etc.)

Smartsheet charges jump substantially once you move beyond the basic option, especially considering the fact that it behaves like just any other spreadsheet most of the time. Is that worth the cost of taking on this platform?

That’s for you to decide, but if you’re asking me, I can’t say Smartsheet does a great job justifying what they charge their users.

The individual tier is very affordable, but once your needs exceed this platform, the price jumps up to a staggering $25/month per user.

That’s quite high in my opinion considering the fact that you’re paying for a slightly more advanced spreadsheet program, not to mention the Enterprise and Premier tiers are probably higher based on the fact that the pricing is not made readily available.

Support

Smartsheet’s support

I mentioned before that I struggled when it came to creating new dashboards or reports in Smartsheet, leaving me to rely on their knowledge base and other forms of customer support in order to learn their platform.

When it comes to the pros and cons of Smartsheet, this is where the platform truly shines. All of its support services, including several forms of training, certifications, and support request portals are available while using the program, as opposed to searching for them on the vendor website. That’s very refreshing.

A screenshot of Smarsheet's support portal for questions and troubleshooting.

Finding help was so easy while using this software.

My only wish was that the rest of the software was this convenient while testing it out. However, their support and training options were very concise and helped me understand where to find everything I wanted to use.

Benefits

Benefits of Smartsheet

The primary benefit of Smartsheet is the versatility afforded by using a spreadsheet-based platform. If you live and breathe Microsoft Excel, you'll love working in Smartsheet since the functions and user interface are extremely similar.

You can create all kinds of dashboards and reports to fit the needs of your project so long as you understand the ins and outs of the platform.

However, I see this benefit as a double-edged sword, since this wide open versatility gives this platform a steeper than average learning curve. Unless you’re experienced with spreadsheets, you might struggle learning how to perform seemingly basic project functions while using Smartsheet.

On the flip side, Smartsheet security is a huge benefit for users looking to protect their data from hackers and other forms of corporate espionage. Smartsheet offers all kinds of encryption and permissions that’ll keep your information safe at all times from those who would otherwise do harm to your operations.

Smartsheet is like Airtable without all of the charm

When I reviewed Airtable, I remarked that it was a project management tool for creatively-minded teams, but to be honest, its audience doesn’t end there. Like Smartsheet, Airtable is also based on a spreadsheet framework first and foremost, making it a viable option for data-minded users.

Airtable succeeds because it has a lot more to offer users who aren’t just looking for a project management spreadsheet.

When it comes to Smartsheet, this tool leans so heavily on its spreadsheet functionality that it creates a barrier to entry that some users will find intimidating. It also doesn’t help that Smartsheet is far more expensive than Airtable.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for Smartsheet

Is there a free version of Smartsheet?

As far as I can see, there is no free version for Smartsheet. The best you’re going to get is a 30-day free trial for the software, with the cheapest pricing tier starting at $14 per month.

This was a little disappointing to me since many of the features this platform offers can be found in other free spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets.

What kinds of teams and projects work best with Smartsheet?

While Smartsheet offers all kinds of project templates in order to get users started, I can’t see many creative teams and marketing agencies using this platform for their projects. This tool seems better suited for corporate businesses that thrive on spreadsheets and numbers.

What kinds of customer support does Smartsheet offer?

Smartsheet shines when it comes to customer support. Rather than navigating all over the vendor website to find the help you need, all the support options are available right in the tool itself, including training materials, certifications, support forms, and even phone support if you need it.

How Smartsheet Compares

Product File Sharing Financial Management Collaborative Tools Phone Support
Smartsheet Yes Yes Yes Yes
Airtable Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Project Yes
Mavenlink Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scoro Yes Yes Yes Yes

If you’re looking for an advanced Microsoft Excel-like experience for your project management software, give Smartsheet a try and see if it fits your needs.

If you’re looking for an advanced Microsoft Excel-like experience for your project management software, give Smartsheet a try and see if it fits your needs.

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