SMARTSHEET FOR PROJECT AND PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT
So why do we really recommend it?
Having run projects and programmes for over 20 years and used my fair share of software over that time, I was pretty blown away when I first started using Smartsheet to manage a project I was leading. So much so that I now help companies around the world improve how they deliver projects by leveraging technology to support their people and processes by removing wasted time, unnecessary effort and limited visibility and transparency.
So yes, I’m a biased advocate, but one with over 20 years’ experience running projects, programmes and portfolios in a wide variety of sectors (consumer goods, pharma, hospitality, retail, property, construction), in a wide range of areas (product development, transformation, IT and digital, HR, capability) and at different levels of maturity.
Here's my view on why I recommend a Smartsheet solution to organisations looking to enable their people and processes to deliver projects more efficiently and effectively – and ultimately manage work where the work is happening.
But if you’re too busy manually fighting fires on your project due to the lack of transparency or visibility, now is a good time to stop reading so you don’t find out what you’re missing out on.
• Portfolio visibility – management teams need to have easy visibility of headline information on the portfolio to understand if they are on track and if not, where they need to focus their attention. Portfolio dashboards provide the all-important overview on the portfolio status, highlighting key measures and trends, providing an ‘air-traffic control’ overview, and with easy drill-downs to zoom in on projects that need attention. It’s also easy to add in sub-portfolio views for different departments, programmes or categories
• Flexibility – Smartsheet is remarkably flexible and customisable, enabling it to be adapted very easily to how the end-users work. As a key stakeholder on a PPM tool implementation before I came across Smartsheet, I was hugely frustrated at providing my input, then having the solution presented back to me 3 months later and being told I could not make any changes. It’s no-code, meaning non-tecchies like me can design and implement what we actually want and need
• Effective intake and demand process – it’s so quick and easy to set up elegant and user-friendly forms for data to be submitted consistently every time, removing wasted time for re-entering data or having to remind people what information they need to fill in
• Efficient approval process – leveraging the power of automations when new requests are submitted or when a status changes and an approval is needed, requests for approval from the right people can be triggered without waiting for someone to send the email
• Capacity planning and resource management – when deployed with Smartsheet’s Resource Management module, you can easily see overall capacity views for team by week and month, or have an overall heatmap that you can view by team or by individual and what they have been assigned to
• Project ‘blueprint’ template set rapidly deployed – project template sets can easily be created providing the project manager and project teams with a dashboard with an integrated status report and a consistent set of documents and trackers designed to their needs, not system default settings, and where new projects can be created rapidly (with automations in minutes) that roll up to the portfolio reports. Think RAID logs, change logs, budget trackers, benefits realisation trackers, etc…
• Project schedules – the schedule or timeplan is fundamental to any project and Gantt charts with a critical path, dependencies and baselining have typically only available to MS Project licence holders. With Smartsheet, a spreadsheet is turned into a Gantt chart instantly, and turned back again for those with an aversion to them. As the schedule also double as a spreadsheet with powerful formulas, it can also be used to run calculations to track budget information and so much more
• Work your way – In addition to switching between Gantt and spreadsheet view, at the press of a button you can also view the information in a Kanban board card view or calendar view. And given Smartsheet’s flexibility, you can ultimately set it up to work in the way your organisation wants to work, rather than being forced to work the way the system was set up
• Attachments, comments and proofing – attachments can be added to any row so if there’s key information on a task or line item, it can be attached. Comments can also be added to any row with the person @mentioned notified by email. Attachments can also be turned into proofs that are sent to contributors or approvers to annotate and approve or reject
• Automations – a powerful range of automations can be set up to alert people, request action, updates or approvals, to move or copy rows, record or clear data, record dates or generate PDF documents based on dates, a recurring schedule or when triggered
• Personalised views – users can also have personalised views where their tasks, actions, approvals or whatever from multiple projects are pulled into a single personalised view that only shows the tasks for the person who is viewing it
• Consolidated data – reports are quickly and easily set up that pull together data from multiple sources (can be hundreds of sheets) that then just show the data that is specified based on defined filters
• One version of the truth and greater transparency – as a web-based platform, as long as you have access to the web, you have access to the same data everyone else has access to. And as soon as updates are made, they are there for all to see. This requires people to be much more transparent and takes away excuses so enables a whole new way of working and efficiency
• Single data entry – this means data is only every entered once and not manually transcribed or collated into a different system or location [OHIO – only handle it once] and the data flows automatically to where it is needed
• Scheduled and simplified email update requests straight to your email – updating tasks or status reports can be done directly from your email and sent on an automated schedule where end users simply click on a link, update the text and submit, which automatically updates the master, removing all the time wasted sending out update requests manually and then transcribing them manually back into a central version
• Online tracking and history – as an online system, you then get the ability to see easily who has made what changes (or not in some cases), and to roll these back if needed
• No file corruption – all Smartsheets have unique IDs, so no matter where you move them to or rename them, any links you have made to other files remain and the data keeps flowing
• Easy to share and withdraw access – items can be shared with other users in a few clicks (they just need a Smartsheet account and to be in line with the organisation’s security settings) and access can be removed as quickly
• Rapid to implement – you can set up a world-class PPM solution in a very short space of time that organisations can have fully functional in less than 30 days (with the timings typically dictated by the customer’s availability)
Raise your focus and valuable time to focus on what needs to get done and what the blockers or opportunities are, not on getting the updates
Written by Rich Coles, Managing Director, Prodactive Project Solutions