Smartsheet Hits (and Misses) – A Communications Perspective
Updated September 30, 2015
Smartsheet Hits (and Misses) – A Communications Perspective
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Smartsheet
Our communications department uses Smartsheet to document, organize and plan communication requests we receive from the ministry areas in our church. Currently, it is a tool used only by our communications staff, but we are planning to train our ministry administrative assistants to view and track their requests. Eventually, we would like to make it accessible to our executive staff for a high-level view. Previous to using Smartsheet, we had numerous requests for various communications materials to be created for various timespans. It was inefficient, in consistent, and the "system" was the use of file folders and post-it notes and the ability to retain memory of conversations with the requestors. Now, it is a repository that contains all the emails, files, etc. in one place and something that is easily accessible by our other team members.
- Highly customizable. You can talk about one line/task/row in a project, or an entire sheet/project. You can share with anyone, regardless of permissions.
- Provides an efficient tool for current and previous records by keeping all your files, emails, discussions, etc. in one place.
- Adaptable style for any type of visual person. From background colors to the type of project status symbols, users will feel comfortable in creating a view that's right for them.
- Linking cells to a second spreadsheet is helpful. However, there seems to be some gaps in the designed functionality. When you want to remove something, and unlink the original, the previously linked cells in the second spreadsheet do not delete as well (requiring manual deletion and wasted time). There seems to be some problems with filtering, and then sorting a column (it won't let you). Last, the Reports feature used to show "last update" by the minute which was updated even if just looked at and resaved. A few months ago, the "last update" column would not update even if a change was made. The Smartsheet rep replied by email saying Reports require a change to a column header to make "last update" update. This is not helpful because I update the date query to sort the data I would like to look at each week in the report (and never need to change any columns). For me, this has caused a negative impact in what I thought was an effective work flow.
- Adequate customer service, but not superior. I've had immediate help through email with Smartsheet tech support. However, I would prefer a phone call for two-way interaction. Additionally, I attended a helpful webinar, but submitted a question, and was told all questions would be followed up with individually. I never heard back.
- There have been some problems with connectivity. Maybe 10–20 times in the past year, I have received "Smartsheet is unavailable at this time, check your browser" while other websites are still accessible. I had to wait anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to access our data. A few times it went offline while I was working and I hadn't saved (there is a helpful reminder that pops up every 10 minutes reminding you to save your work though).
- Overall. increased employee efficiency
- Improved work flow and communication
- Better customer service with more accurate end products
I can speak for communication teams who might have a large amount of varied projects coming in that start and end constantly, and only a small team to deal with them. We have a five person team, and as requests come in, I am the one tasked to create our sheets. While I work with our team to finalize actual delivery dates and tasks, I am the person that links every task to a master task sheet so that we can view tasks by team member and discuss accordingly. This Software as a Service (SaaS) is extremely helpful in organizing things in one place and customizing based on needs and preferences. However, the task of cell linking to other sheets in order to see customizable reports is extremely time consuming, repetitive and mundane. IN the last year, we estimate we have linked at least 2000 individual lines to other reports. I estimate at least 30-40% of my time in the program is in reference to this un-ending task. I hope Smartsheet will find a way to make this aspect more efficient for the user. If you are interested in customizing reports based on assigned tasks, there may be better SaaS programs out there. Or maybe this task can be delegated to an assistant or intern.
Smartsheet Feature Ratings
Only our Communications Team uses Smartsheet at this time (to organize our work). We have a communications specialist, a creative communications specialist, an assistant, a director, and a multi-media director. Smartsheet helps us organize our work in "advertising" or "branding" each event in our church. Some of the work Smartsheet captures is also operations based for staff personnel.
To use Smartsheet, one needs the ability to think from a "high-level" down, be organized, be consistent, be scheduled, and have an interest to improve (via use of Smartsheet tutorials and webinars). Because Smartsheet can capture any information you wish, if you have projects with similar information you are tracking, you must be careful in determining which information should be captured. It is possible to capture to much that is not efficient to use.
- "To Do" list for random projects the team has been assigned.
- "Catch All" tracking sheets for requests that don't come through our formal request system.
- Gantt charts to determine volume of work over the course of the year.
- Reporting to executive staff.
It definitely meets our needs as far as organizing and archiving our tasks and files. As we train more staff to view it, I see opportunities for more improvement, which I am sure this program can handle. I look forward to seeing continued improvement from Smartsheet on their capabilities and functionality.
Evaluating Smartsheet and Competitors
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Product Reputation
- Third-party Reviews
We wanted something that met our needs, was balanced in price and was dependable. There were a few other Software as a Service (SaaS) products out there, but this one stood out in the reviews. The free trial was an excellent way for us to try it out and see if it was a good fit, and was the reason we decided to use it. One year later, our communications team is definitely much more organized and efficient, and I believe we all agree this is a good service.
Know your team roles and the expectations of your supervisor—from the top down. Implementing Smartsheet was definitely an iterative process that required (and still requires) maintenance and fine-tuning. Although we have a new working tool and process, I expect that we will continue to improve both through the next few years.
Yes - We entered projects tasks into their own project sheets, then began to organize the sheets by ministry area. We then wanted to view by task, so we created master task sheets and linked each task to its parent task sheet. We then created "sort" reports to view the desirable date range of each task. We use these sort reports for our weekly tag-up to see what is on each person's list each week and to check on status.
- Determining what information (tasks and dates) we needed to capture across every project and ensuring that was reflected in our columns.
- Determining who would capture the information and the process for handing off a sheet for further administrative upkeep.
- Training staff and ensuring updates to statuses were made as completed.