Workflow

Smartsheet Review–The Good and Bad

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Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-style project management solution for businesses managing multiple projects with dozens of moving parts. It’s great for larger companies with the capacity to build out a custom work management platform for themselves.

However, it’s overkill for most small and medium businesses.

Smartsheet is the enterprise work management platform

Compare Smartsheet to the Best Project Management Software

At its core, Smartsheet is the most powerful and sophisticated spreadsheet tool we’ve ever seen.

It works well for people who already use spreadsheets to manage projects, but feel limited by traditional options like Excel and Google Sheets. It can also be a good choice if you want full control and customization capabilities.

Not a fan of spreadsheets or don’t need all that control? Here are some of our other favorites.

Monday.com is also customizable–not to the same extent, but it’s more user-friendly. It’s interface is modern and colorful, you can use it to track customers, leads, tasks, projects, or anything else you’d use a database/spreadsheet for.

If you prefer a more traditional project management tool that’s already set up and ready to go, ClickUp can’t be beat. It’s not as flexible, but it has a wide range of strong collaboration tools.

For service providers, Teamwork can’t be beat. It gives you granular control over client access with unlimited client users at no extra cost. Check out our full review of the best project management software if you want to learn more about our favorites or explore all of your options.

Smartsheet: The Good and The Bad

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.

The Good

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.

Smartsheet offers tons of collaboration tools, including proofing, sharing, attachments, conversations, and notifications

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. In fact, Smartsheet made our list of the best simple project management software options.

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 Smartsheet’s 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.

Smartsheet offers powerful no-code automations via workflows and document generation

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.

Automatic document generation: Smartsheet is one of the few work management tools that can automatically create documents based on form submissions or data within your system. Users can even sign documents right within Smartsheet using the DocuSign integration.

Extended functionality: Besides basic project management, you can add resource management, digital asset management, and portfolio management capabilities that will give rise to project budgeting, time tracking, advanced reports and analytics, and forecasting tools, among others. However, these features aren’t baked into Smartsheet’s plans—they’re an add-on that have an additional price tag. But it’s nice to know that the platform expands to match your needs rather than making you buy another tool to grow your business.

Customization and flexibility: One of Smartsheet’s claims to fame is flexibility. Much like a spreadsheet, you can manipulate your sheets into just about anything, from project management and inventory management to budget tracking, expense categorization, campaign tracking, and more. You can use it in hundreds of different ways, which makes it a contender to replace other business tools you may be using for other functions or departments. You get unlimited custom fields, multiple views, and unlimited sheets. So, there are no limits to how you can use Smartsheet—compared to other project-management-only tools, it’s refreshingly versatile.

Take advantage of templates: When you want to be up and running quickly with Smartsheet, you can use one of the 350 templates that are part of the software. The template provides a basic structure for managing your project. You then can adjust the template as needed to perfectly fit your needs for a particular project. Smartsheet’s sprint planning template is one of the best available among project management software packages. We also named a few agile project plan templates from Smartsheet among the best available in the market.

The Bad

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.

Higher prices: At first glance, Smartsheet seems pretty affordable. Plans start at just $7 per user 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. And they require a minimum of three users on any plan, so you’ll be paying more that you have to if you only need a platform for one or two users. 

Odd autosave feature: For some reason, Smartsheet does not autosave your changes or update the page to reflect edits in real time. This issue admittedly won’t be a big deal to everyone, but we find it to be incredibly annoying. Most cloud-based software packages save your changes in real time, so it’s a feature we’ve come to take for granted. Smartsheet requires you to click a Save button and a Refresh button after you make changes. You can go into the Settings window of Smartsheet to set up autosave once a minute or when you leave a sheet, so you can sort of work around the problem. (However, we believe you shouldn’t have to.)

Smartsheet Pricing and Options

Smartsheet Pricing

Smartsheet offers four plans, with each offering more features and fewer limitations than the last.

There’s also a separate package called Smartsheet Advance that includes everything on the Enterprise plan, plus all the extra add-ons you’d have to pay for on the Enterprise or Business tiers.

  • Free — Up to one user and two editors
  • Pro — $7 per user per month
  • Business — $25 per user per month
  • Enterprise — Custom pricing
  • Smartsheet Advance — Custom pricing

One big thing for the bargain hunters out there to be aware of: Smartsheet requires a minimum of three users on any plan (aside from the free one). In reality, the starting price for Pro is really $21 per month and $75 for Business.

Smartsheet pricing

The free plan may work for very basic project management. It limits you to two sheets, but you do get Gantt, Grid, Card, and Calendar views, which is nice. Many others restrict you to one or two views.

At first glance, Pro and Business seem similar–the Pro plan limits you to 20 GB of storage and is limited to 10 editors. It’s not super clear, but you’re also limited to 10 widgets on each dashboard, 250 automations per month, one sheet per report (you can’t run reports on multiple projects), and 30 MB for attachments.

Business has far more storage and fewer restrictions across the board. All those limits above disappear and you’ll get 1 TB of storage plus a 250 MB upload limit.

However, the advanced features, like conditional form logic, proofing, publishable reports, a document builder, unlimited automations, custom branding, integrations, and security features, really make the difference between Pro and Business.

You’ll also get two of Smartsheet’s newest features on the Business plan: timeline view and workload tracking. You could technically do these things before, but now they’re significantly easier to set up.

Smartsheet’s Enterprise plan unlocks unlimited storage, AI tools (new), advanced security, better customer service, and a no-code app builder.

Smartsheet Advanced

Many truly advanced enterprise tools are only available as paid add-ons to the Business or Enterprise plans. Things like data connectors, CRM and software development integrations, scalable portfolio management, and secure request management all cost extra.

The Smartsheet Advanced package is the only way to get all of these without paying à la carte. There are three tiers, each of which includes different add-ons: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Enterprise users are the only ones who can upgrade to Smartsheet Advanced.

Smartsheet Advanced features

Resource Management by Smartsheet

You can technically manage resources with Smartsheet thanks to its new workload tracking features on Business and Enterprise plans, but you’ll miss out on a lot of powerful capabilities unless you purchase Resource Management by Smartsheet, too.

It gives you all the tools you need to plan, schedule, and optimize your resources.

Resource Management by Smartsheet lets you unlock your team's full potential

It exists to help you simplify resource allocation and improve planning accuracy. It even offers tools for time tracking, budgeting, forecasting, dynamic reporting, and more. 

For organizations managing projects at scale, this solution helps ensure your schedules have the right folks, prevent them from burnout, let you know when you need to hire, and when you have too many resources for no reason.

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. 

Brandfolder by Smartsheet

If you manage a lot of digital assets, Brandfolder helps you keep them organized, secure, and consistent. You’ll be able to keep track of different versions, build brand guidelines, and even embed assets on your website without taking up hosting storage.

There are two plans to choose from: Premium and Enterprise.

Premium includes document intelligence and OCR for reading text, asset analytics, bulk update capabilities, availability controls with go live and expiration dates, and a range of video AI tools.

Brandfolder by Smartsheet is visual, beautiful, and intelligent.

The top plan includes all of that and then some. You’ll also get powerful automations, more granular permissions, data connectors, and a vanity URL.

This can be a great addition to Smartsheet if you’re a marketing, creative, or design team.

Reviews of the Best Project Management Software

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. Test it out with a 30-day free trial before you commit. This will help you decide if Smartsheet is right for your needs. 

Check out our top picks of the best project management tools to see some popular Smartsheet alternatives. There, you’ll get a good sense of what else is on the market and how Smartsheet compares with other popular options.


Cait is a banjo player, snowboarder, climber, cat mom, and (former) engineer who lives in Olympia, WA. She's been a professional writer for more than five years, specializing in B2B software with a technical yet empathetic approach that puts data and hands-on experience at the heart of every review.

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