Software

Smartsheet Review: Smartsheet Project Management

Jonathan Friedman
August 24, 2020
Smartsheet Review: Smartsheet Project Management

Smartsheet. Maybe you’ve used it before, or perhaps you are considering buying a license. This Smartsheet review will help you determine if Smartsheet is the best project management software for you and your organization. We’ll also shed light on why we believe TrueNxus is a better alternative.

In this Smartsheet review, we'll go over some critical Smartsheet features and their limitations and pricing to help you decide if it is the right project management tool for you. Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is Smartsheet?

Smartsheet is a powerful project management software that will help you:

As you can see within this section of our Smartsheet review, Smartsheet has everything you need for effective project management from a single online location.

Who uses Smartsheet?

In this section of our Smartsheet review, you'll find that Smartsheet is useful if you are a project-based leader that plans and executes projects with a fixed duration. While Smartsheet advertises as a project management tool that you can use for any project size, it’s best used for small projects that are centrally managed by an individual or set of individuals. 

Below outlines a set of users that benefit from Smartsheet.

Advantages of Smartsheet

Smartsheet has a lot of benefits to offer to its customers. In this section of our Smartsheet review, we'll take a closer look at Smartsheet’s pros.

1.  It’s a spreadsheet

Smartsheet, as its’ name alludes, is a spreadsheet-based tool. It was first rolled out before there was Google Sheets, and while every significant company was using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they were late to the game of rolling out online based spreadsheet tools. As a result, Smartsheet took advantage and is now a leader in the space.

If you are a Microsoft Excel power user, Smartsheet will be a smooth transition. Additionally, suppose you are used to building and managing project plans in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. In that case, Smartsheet will seem like a dream come true because you’ll now have online collaboration and standard project templates to leverage.

2. Coordinate the project in one location

Unlike traditional spreadsheet-based tools, you’ll coordinate with your project team in one online location. You’ll no longer have version control issues as every project team member will be able to access the same information from one place.

Additionally, you’ll be able to attach files and share them. For example, say you’ve now completed a deliverable, and you want to share it with the team. Simply upload it to Smartsheet.

3. Gantt charts allow you to visualize the project across time

Smartsheet provides you with a Gantt chart view of your project. Gantt charts are a bar chart visualization of a project schedule. As a result, you have a visual representation of the project.

Additionally, you’ll be able to document the following types of data:

4. Reporting is powerful and flexible

Smartsheet comes with powerful reporting capabilities to monitor project health. The reports give you a view of project status at a snapshot in time. 

The status reports are great because they are populated automatically based on the project data. As a result, you will save you a lot of time by not having to herd cats and chase everyone down for updates.

5. Automation enabled with workflows

Another powerful feature of Smartsheet is its automation capabilities. You and your team can add automated workflows so you can be notified when rows of data are added or changed, or when a date has been reached. 

Capabilities such as automated workflows will save you and your project team time and increase the quality of work by allowing the team to stay on top of everything.

Disadvantages of Smartsheet

Unfortunately, Smartsheet has a lot of drawbacks and limitations. In this section of our Smartsheet review, we'll take a closer look at Smartsheet’s cons.

1. It’s a spreadsheet

Depending on your comfort with spreadsheet-based applications, you may find Smartsheet overly complicated and challenging to set up. Many reviews online mention that there is a steep learning curve for most. Smartsheet in general, and project management specifically, is not intuitive in Smartsheet. 

Do you want to learn how to use something like this?

Smartsheet project plan, or project schedule

Or, would you instead work with something intuitive like this?

Project plan

2. Coordination is not collaboration

Like other spreadsheet-based applications, think Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, are excellent in their ability to do one-time or ad-hoc analysis and management. Smartsheet takes it one step further and provides the ability to coordinate projects with out of the box templates. 

However, given the steep learning curve, getting the entire project team bought into the tool is unlikely. As a result, with Smartsheet, you’ll need someone to act as an official project manager, who knows all of the ins and outs of Smartsheet. You’ll need a Smartsheet guru, or a power user to direct and coordinate everything. 

Sure, Smartsheet allows one person to coordinate everything by planning and executing in one location and uploading deliverables, but that’s not collaboration. Real collaboration is where there are dense interdependent connections, and stakeholders share power. Smartsheets is for coordination, not collaboration.

3. Gantt charts are confusing and messy

Like many traditional project management software solutions, Smartsheet has Gantt chart  functionality to allow the project team to visualize the project across time. However, Gantt charts  can be confusing to the rest of the project team, especially if the project team has many stakeholders. Typically, non-project managers are unwilling to take the time to learn a Gantt chart  because they are not intuitive. More often than not, once you put together the first Gantt chart view, it’s not looked at again, and the project team moves onto another tool to manage the project.

Additionally, adding lots of detail, or only having a lot of tasks in a Gantt chart  gets chaotic and difficult to understand quickly. With traditional Gantt charts, as is true in Smartsheet, when there are many tasks, you have to scroll down (or up) and right (or left) simultaneously. In short, traditional Gantt charts  are not intuitive. Furthermore, if you zoom out, you can’t make sense of the plan.

Again, do you want to learn how to use something like this?

Smartsheet gantt chart

Or, would you instead work with something intuitive like this?

Project timeline, or gantt chart

4. Reporting requires you to be an analytics expert

Smartsheet reports are compelling and flexible. You can use out of the box templates or create reports from scratch. However, to leverage Smartsheet’s reporting prowess, you need to be an analytics expert or power user. If you are not familiar with pivot tables, you’re going to have to learn how to build the status reports you want, which will take a lot of time. Again, Smartsheet is extremely powerful, but there is a steep learning curve to take advantage of advanced features like reporting.

Unlike, Smartsheet, TrueNxus provides you with an out of the box status report that provides you and senior leadership the insights you all need to know to clear roadblocks, make decisions and move the ball forward.

Project status report

5. You cannot see everything you are responsible for

Smartsheet allows you to visualize every task you are assigned to in a specific project. However, to do this, you have to go into the project and filter your name on the Assigned column. Then you have to do this every time. 

While this is hugely inefficient in its own right, it’s even more annoying and unproductive if you want to see every task you are assigned to across multiple projects. To view every task assigned to you across all of your projects in Smartsheet, you have to create a custom report. However, this report does not show you everything you need to know to understand what you are responsible for or how others impact you. It lacks insight into task dependencies. If a task is dependent on another task, you have to go into the project and find the task and see if anything has changed.

Who has time for such inefficiency? At TrueNxus have a section called My Work that provides you a view into everything you’re on the hook for, including any dependencies that you may, or may not be assigned.

MyWork

Smartsheet pricing

Without a breakdown of Smartsheet's pricing, a Smartsheet review is only half done. So let's take a look at Notion's pricing.

Whether you’re buying an annual plan or a monthly plan, Smartsheet pricing is expensive. The Individual plan starts at $14/user/month ($19/user/month if billed monthly). However, if you want reporting capabilities, you need the Business plan, which is $25/user/month ($32/user/month if billed monthly), with a minimum of 3 licenses, resulting in a minimum of $75/month ($96/month if billed monthly). What’s the point of Smartsheet without the reporting, though?

How does TrueNxus pricing compare to Smartsheet pricing?

At TrueNxus, you can sign up for monthly or annual billing. If you choose annual billing, it’s only $8.33/month for your first 5 licenses. That’s only $100/year for 5 licenses. Then, each additional user is only $7.50/user/month when billed annually. Compare that to $25/user/month.

Now, let’s compare TrueNxus and Smartsheet Business annual plans on pricing alone.

When comparing the two, it’s a no brainer! TrueNxus is cheaper by at least $1,400/year for 5 licenses. Then next question you may ask is, why is TrueNxus cheaper? Well, that’s easy. We are lean, and we believe in value-based pricing. We believe project management software is only worth anything when you are either (1) managing multiple projects, or (2) requiring collaboration amongst various stakeholders. 

Suppose you’re only one person or a team of 5. In that case, TrueNxus will undoubtedly increase productivity and efficiency. Still, we believe that once a group of 5 or more needs to work together, that’s when the value provided goes into overdrive, and that’s why we only increase pricing once the number of people exceeds 5. Unlike Smartsheet, we at TrueNxus only charge you for the value we are providing.

TrueNxus, a better alternative

We hope this comprehensive Smartsheet review provides you with everything you were looking for in a review. However, we believe Smartsheet has more disadvantages and advantages when it comes to performing project management. That's why we built TrueNxus. We built TrueNxus, because we didn't find Smartsheet to have what we needed to execute effective project management. TrueNxus is the most pragmatic project management software in the market. With TrueNxus, you’ll be able to manage all of your organization’s projects. 

You’ll have all of the features you need to plan and execute projects successfully.

1. Multiple views

Your project management software needs to be able to provide personalized views. A view that makes sense to you may not make sense to your teammate. These views need to be in sync as well.

TrueNxus provides you with the following views:

Project plan

List

A list is a table that allows you to manage your project plan easily. Organize the work into groups such as workstreams, or any logical way to categorize tasks.

Project timeline, or gantt chart

Timeline

Visualize the project as a Timeline, a Gantt chart like view that lets you understand how the entire project fits together. Make updates to the project plan through an interactive interface.

2. Automated project status reports

Project status report

Let TrueNxus analyze the project health real-time giving senior leadership and the project team the insights they need to make decisions and move the ball forward. No more herding cats with endless phone calls and countless emails.

3. My Work

View all of your work in one place

Know what you’re on the hook for delivering. View every task, and every dependency, that is important to you, across every project, in one location.

4. Dependencies

Dependencies

Be accountable when others are reliant on you. Understand dependent tasks, change implications, and adjust course as needed.

5. Automated notifications

Automated workflows - notifications

Stay productive and get notified when changes occur. With TrueNxus’s 20+ out-of-the-box automated notifications, you will have the transparency you need to stay in-the-know. As a result, TrueNxus creates efficiency by informing you immediately when changes to the overall project plan occur, such as when roadblocks impact dependencies.

6. Comments

Collaboration by comment in the webapp

Collaborate directly in the app. Communicate with project team members and chat with one another directly in tasks.

7. Project charter

OKR with a project charter

Leverage OKR and create a project charter. Collaborate as one team and establish the project objectives, benefits, and risks from the very beginning.

8. Privacy

Project privacy

Ensure confidentiality when necessary. Make projects private to create a safe place for sensitive work.

Learn more and see all product features.

TrueNxus advantages

TrueNxus disadvantages

Nothing else. We’d love for you to sign up for a free trial (no credit card needed) and let us know what you think. We love feedback!

TrueNxus pricing

TrueNxus has flexible pricing so that you only pay for what you need. Both monthly and annual plans are available. If you sign up for a yearly plan, you get 2 months free.

Pricing is simple. For teams of up to 5 users, it’s only $10/month. Then, for teams larger than 5 users, you’ll only pay for each additional user - $9/user/month. If your team size changes, your bill will be prorated.

Smartsheet review conclusion

While Smartsheet is a great tool, it has several drawbacks, as shown in this Smartsheet review. Fortunately, you can use project management software like TrueNxus to solve all of Smartsheet’s limitations. If you want even more information, like a side-by-side comparison of the two software providers, see why TrueNxus is a better Smartsheet alternative.

TrueNxus has everything you need to plan and deliver successful projects but at a fraction of the cost of Smartsheet.

See for yourself, and sign up for a free trial today (no credit card needed).