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Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-style project management solution for businesses managing multiple projects with dozens of moving parts at any given time. It helps companies of all shapes and sizes manage workflows and improve collaboration efforts from a single platform. With that said, it’s not beginner-friendly and it doesn’t have the familiar Kanban view and project management style we’ve all come to love. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good fit for you and your team. Should you use it? Let’s find out.
Compare Smartsheet to the Best Project Management Software
At its core, Smartsheet is a spreadsheet tool on steroids. It’s a great option if you’re comfortable using spreadsheets to manage your projects but feel limited by traditional spreadsheet software like Google Sheets and Excel.
However, Smartsheet didn’t make it into our top five picks for project management software because it’s not a good fit for most businesses. There’s nothing wrong with it, but its spreadsheet-esque system is challenging to learn. With that said, we don’t hesitate to recommend it to those who prefer databases and spreadsheets over more visual options like Kanban, Gantt, and timeline views. But if visual project management strategies are more up your alley, see all of our top picks.
Smartsheet: The Good and The Bad
Despite not making our top list, Smartsheet has numerous breath-of-fresh-air redeeming qualities for spreadsheet and database fans. If that sounds like you, it may be worth the confusing interface and expensive price tag.
Team Collaboration Tools: In addition to project management, Smartsheet brands itself as a “dynamic work and collaboration software.” Teams can easily collaborate with file sharing, notes, and tasks, all within a central source of truth. This allows everyone on a team to keep up with the progress of a particular project. Multiple team members can share presentations, images, and PDFs to work on content at the same time, complete with notifications, version control, and a customizable approval process. The entire Smartsheet solution is highly customizable so you can add the collaboration features you need and remove the ones you don’t to keep things as simple as possible.
Powerful Analytics and Reporting: Admins, managers, and users love Smartsheet’s reporting capabilities. The advanced reporting makes it easy to consolidate the most crucial information from multiple sheets into a single report in just a few clicks or taps. In doing so, you can identify trends and potential bottlenecks to continuously improve. You can also publish and share your reports with team members, departments, stakeholders, or anyone else who should be in the loop. You can even use Smartsheet’s activity log to see who is accessing reports and when they’re doing it so you know who’s seen what. One standout feature of Smartsheets reports is that they’re bi-directional—if someone makes a change on the report, it’s updated in real-time back to the attached sheets. And reports update in real-time when someone updates the attached sheets. So, you never have to worry about outdated information again.
Data Security: As an enterprise-grade solution, Smartsheet uses top-of-the-line data protection standards to keep your team, your data, and your business secure with a Fort Knox-style gusto. It offers dozens of security features, including two-factor authentication, single sign-on (SSO), granular user access controls, secure data centers, AES 256-bit at-rest encryption, and more to prevent unauthorized access. Smartsheet is also HIPAA, GDPR, ISO, SOC, ITAR, and FERPA compliant so you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to worry about privacy and security compliance.
Robust Automation Tools: Most project management tools come with basic automation features but Smartsheet outshines most of them with an incredibly comprehensive set of integrations, connectors, intelligent workflows, and automation tools. Despite its power, setting up basic automations takes just a few minutes thanks to Smartsheet’s drag-and-drop automation builder. It uses basic logic, conditional paths, and triggers, allowing you to create even the most advanced workflows you can imagine.
Extended Functionality: In addition to project management, Smartsheet has solutions for resource management as well. This includes project portfolio management, project budgeting, time tracking, advanced reporting, and more. However, not all of this functionality is built-in to all plans. 10,000ft by Smartsheet is the solution for these features. We’ll discuss this offering in greater detail shortly.
Integrations and Add-Ons: Smartsheet meshes well with tons of third-party apps and cloud tools for business use. Key integrations include Slack, DocuSign, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Dropbox, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more. Some plans even support premium integrations, like Salesforce and Jira. You can also use Smartsheet’s growing list of premium add-ons for things like mapping data, reducing operational risk, dynamically refreshing data, and so much more.
Confusing For Beginners: Spreadsheets are something that the vast majority of us are familiar with. In theory, Smartsheet shouldn’t have a steep learning curve. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The interface isn’t very user-friendly, which can make it challenging to chart and analyze data. Unless you’re generating reports, there’s no real easy way to analyze the sheets at-a-glance. You’ll have to manually go through rows and columns, which is tough to do at scale.
Limited Activity Log: Smartsheet’s activity log allows users and admins to track common actions, like who has viewed what, what’s been shared, and more. However, this log is a bit limited compared to other project management tools on the market today. You can’t really just get a quick glance at what’s happened since you last logged in. Sometimes it can be time-consuming to get an answer. For example, to see a full history of a particular cell, you’d need to navigate to that cell, right-click, and then find the history from there.
Not Ideal for Certain PM Methodologies: Agile teams that want to use Kanban boards and other hybrid project management methodologies will struggle with Smartsheet. The software just doesn’t offer that type of functionality. Everything is spreadsheet-based. Even though you can change the view to a calendar or something else, most of what you’re doing will rely on conditional formatting within a particular sheet.
High Prices: At first glance, Smartsheet seems pretty affordable. Individual plans start at just $14 per month. However, when you take a closer look at these packages, you’ll find Smartsheet to be a bit expensive compared to other project management tools on the market today. Especially since you’re not getting quite as many features as other solutions, the cost can be tough to justify for certain businesses.
Smartsheet Pricing and Options
Smartsheet has several different plans and product offerings. They have solutions for individual users and enterprises alike. No project management software review would be complete without an in-depth overview of the plans and prices, which is exactly what we’ll cover below.
There are two basic categories of Smartsheet—Standard and Enterprise. Within these two categories, there are four different plans to choose from:
- Individual — $14 per month
- Business — $25 per user per month
- Enterprise — Custom pricing
- Smartsheet Advance — Custom pricing
The rates listed above are based on an annual contract. Here’s a brief overview of what comes with the first three plans:
At first glance, you can see that the Individual package is extremely limiting. It’s not intended for business use. So, the vast majority of you reading this right now can just ignore that option. It’s sufficient for personal use. But most people won’t need such an advanced spreadsheet in that case. Using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel is usually more than enough.
That leaves us the Business and Enterprises packages. This is where most people find themselves torn when evaluating Smartsheet.
Even the Business plan can be somewhat limiting. It doesn’t come with SSO or other advanced security features like enterprise access controls. That said, this is fairly common for other project management tools at the same price point.
You’ll be able to integrate the Business and Enterprise plans with basic apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and more. But premium integrations and premium add-ons will cost extra.
The Smartsheet Advanced package is the only plan that includes all premium add-ons at no extra cost. There are three tiers, including Silver, Gold, and Platinum. It’s also important to note that the only way you can upgrade to Smartsheet Advanced is with an Enterprise plan. Even though we don’t know the actual prices, we do know it’s going to be expensive.
In addition to the add-ons shown above, it can also connect with Jira, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Most Enterprise packages from other project management software providers include these types of features for free. That’s one of the reasons why we think Smartsheet is slightly overpriced. To truly get the most out of this software, you’ll need the top-of-the-line package.
The Smartsheet Standard plans are designed as an entry-level point for growing businesses. You’ll still benefit from real-time project management, team collaboration, and workflows, but the plans are more on the basic side.
Here’s a quick glance at the top features and benefits of the two Standard plan options—Individual and Business:
As previously mentioned, the Individual package isn’t viable for business use. We don’t recommend it, so we won’t spend a ton of time discussing it here. You can get more for your money and even find free project management software elsewhere.
The Standard Business plan is a viable option for smaller businesses and simple projects. It comes with all of the Smartsheet core features at a reasonable price point. Business plans require a minimum of three licenses.
Once you hit the Business level, you’ll benefit from unlimited free users. So, you don’t necessarily need a license for every team member. But it’s worth noting that free users can’t create sheets, reports, or dashboards. They can only view or edit those items that have been shared with them by licensed users.
Overall, the Business package is solid. It does fall a bit short compared to other project management tools at the same price point in terms of value. But it’s still loaded with features, and we can recommend it with confidence for businesses that prefer spreadsheet-style project management.
The Enterprise and Smartsheet Advanced packages are Smartsheet’s top-of-the-line product offerings.
The Enterprise plan comes with everything in the Business plan plus unlimited sheets, single sign-on, enterprise access controls, directory integrations, chargeback reports, user merge, and the ability to send emails from your domain email addresses.
The entry-level Enterprise package is good, but the Advanced option is better. Pricing isn’t available for either online, so you’ll need to contact Smartsheet for a custom quote.
With the Enterprise plan, you’re definitely getting an upgrade from the Standard Business package. But the plan lacks some of the tools that really take a spreadsheet to the next level. This is especially true if you want to take advantage of Smartsheet’s premium add-ons.
Dynamic View, Data Uploader, Calendar App, Pivot App, and DataMesh are all included with the Advanced plan. It will be more cost-efficient to get these from an Advanced package instead of getting an Enterprise license and buying the extras separately. If you plan to use any of those add-ons, go straight for the Advanced plan.
If your company is currently using Salesforce, Jira, or Microsoft 365, you’ll definitely want the Advanced package. This is the only way to integrate those premium tools with Smartsheet without paying extra fees.
Compared to similar project management tools on the market today, Smartsheet is still a spreadsheet. But at least the Advanced package extends that functionality.
10,000ft by Smartsheet
To be clear, 10,000ft by Smartsheet is not a project management tool. But we definitely recommend it for businesses that want to fill the gaps with features not offered in a traditional Smartsheet plan.
10,000ft by Smartsheet is a resource management platform. Since resource management and project management go hand-in-hand, it’s worth considering.
The software is designed to simplify resource allocation and improve the accuracy of project planning. It even offers tools for time tracking, budgeting, forecasting, dynamic reporting, and more.
For organizations managing projects at scale with Smartsheet, 10,000ft by Smartsheet essentially becomes a must-have.
It’s a bummer that these features aren’t included with any of the other Smartsheet packages. However, other project management tools on the market don’t tend to offer these, either. So you can usually expect to pay extra for resource management tools, regardless of the project management software you’re using.
Overall, we strongly recommend 10,000ft by Smartsheet if you’re using one of their project management tools—especially for businesses on the Enterprise and Advanced plans.
Comparing The Best Project Management Software
Check out our top picks of the best project management tools to see some popular Smartsheet alternatives:
- Monday.com – Most versatile project management software
- Asana – Best for small to midsize remote or distributed teams
- Trello – Best project management tool for small projects
- Jira – Best project management system for agile teams
- LiquidPlanner – Best project management software for large teams
Smartsheet is one of the most powerful spreadsheet-style tools for project management on the market today. It’s built for teams of all sizes and comes with plenty of capabilities. With that said, Smartsheet does have some limitations. So try it out with a 30-day free trial before you commit. This will help you decide if Smartsheet is right for your needs.