Smartsheet CRM Review

"The Smarter way of solving complex problems"

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  • Expert Review

Introduction

Smartsheet is a cloud based multipurpose business software that helps team members collaborate more efficiently and effectively. It is intuitive, easy to use, scalable, secure and combines features found in MS excel, access and presents them in a familiar spreadsheet like user interface.

Smartsheet is an enterprise-ready tool that can be used for almost anything be it project management, sales data management, task management, customer information management, crowdsourcing, the possibilities are endless. It is used by businesses of all sizes, where teams work together to get more done and to drive results. The application integrates well with some of the leading cloud based applications such as salesforce.com, Google Apps and many other core applications.

Technical details

Smartsheet has been developed using PHP, Javascript and is deployed on a highly scalable and secure infrastructure with a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%. With a robust API to cater to various enterprise integration scenarios, it can be easily integrated with core business systems. It is easily accessible on tablets and smartphone devices. The solution features Safe Harbor Certification and has been issued an SSAE 16 Type II report.

Smartsheet at a glance

  • Free trial: Yes, full feature enabled free trial is available for 30 days.
  • Ideal for: It is vertical independent and ideal for businesses of all sizes. Existing customer base ranges from SMEs, Fortune 500 companies to academic institutions and government agencies.
  • Training required: Very little to no training required. Smartsheet has a spreadsheet like interface.User limit: There’s no user limit. Sheet creators can be added as required by paying as per their existing plan.
  • Support available: Yes, you can submit questions, and with ‘Smartsheet Support Promise’ expect response and callbacks.
  • Accolades: Winner of THINKstrategies’ Best of SaaS Showplace in 2011.

Website

The website as simple and effective as the end product itself. Content is neatly organized, help and support options are easily accessible.

Getting started

A full featured enabled 30 day free trial is available for a test drive. The trial registration form is the quickest and shortest we have found amongst all others. No need to enter credit card information , one simply needs to provide the email address and voila!, registered users can start using this tool within 2 minutes of registration and notice for yourself the advantages of using Smartsheet.

Smartsheet CRM Free 30 Trial Registration Form

Smartsheet being a cloud based application, requires no install extra software to be installed, all that is required is a compatible web browser,. The application is equally well accessible on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, however some of the platforms may have a native app so users might want to download and install the native app as is the case with the iOS platform.

Look and feel

As soon as you sign-in into Smartsheet, the first screen that you would encounter is the dashboard. It is fully customizable, you can see organize the dashboard and rearrange items in such a way that you can see the sheets that were recently updated, your To Do list, Reminders, and your favorite rows that are important.

Smartsheet-Image2-CRM-user-dashboard-that-can-be-customized-and-re-organized

In fact, the user interface can be modified – the colors of the tab and the background can be altered as per your choice, you may as well use a custom logo that will be displayed on the top right hand side. The impact of changing the colour and uploading a new logo can be instantly previewed.

The screen capture below shows how we have customized the look to per our tastes and to use our logo.

Smartsheet-Image3-CRM-The-customized-user-interface

Templates and Sheets

In Smartsheet, a sheet is the central concept, it stores, tracks, manages the information and files you collaborate on. You can set up sheets for literally anything.

Creators create sheets and decide who and how others can collaborate on those sheets. They invite collaborators with edit or view permissions on sheets.

The image below shows a gallery of neatly categorized templates, the ‘Featured Templates’ category  displays the most popular business templates. Templates are easily modifiable, you can save your own custom templates and share them with your team.

Smartsheet CRM Create new Sheet for import existing data

How is Smartsheet useful as a CRM?

Smartsheet while being a general purpose project management tool provides a wide range of pre-built templates to choose from, it can be easily modeled in way that to work great for managing customer details, tracking sales opportunities and much more.

In the upcoming sections we review how it fits into a variety of use cases.



Task management

Efficient and effective task management is a must for every enterprise.
Smartsheet can act as your daily task manager to manage your to-dos by priority. Colour codes are used to display over due tasks in red text and upcoming ones in yellow.

Smartsheet CRM Shows how Smartsheet can be used to manage day to day tasks

As a team task management tool, Smartsheet can be employed to keep you and your team on the same page thereby saving time on status meetings.

Smartsheet CRM As a team task manager

Calendars

Smartsheet’s interactive and easily customizable calendar is accessible to any user.  The solution offers a variety of options for communicating calendar details with your team, making it easier to track the progress of projects. In addition to updating the projects directly from the calendar view, users can export projects, email them to others, or even take printouts.

Smartsheet CRM The calendar for the year share the key dates with everyone in your organization

Alerts, reminders and notifications

Smartsheet, can be configured with ease to set automated alerts to remind you and your team members about upcoming tasks and approaching deadlines. Setting automated reminders and notifications helps streamline and simplify the work process. The notifications can be sent via email when other people make changes to a sheet so there are no surprises. As a creator you determine and define the criteria, recipients and frequency of notifications.

Customer data management

There are existing templates which demonstrate how Smartsheet can used to effectively manage customer data. Its possible to track key client information in a sheet which can be shared others in the team. Rules can be defined to automatically set a flag on people not contacted for 30 days and highlights main contacts over 30 days.

Smartsheet CRM As a customer data management tool

Let’s how a sheet can be used to track all customer interactions by your team. There’s enough flexibility to group rows by customer or possibly manage each customer in a separate sheet.

Smartsheet CRM Shows interactions with customers grouped by customer

Sales management

Smartsheet can be used as sales management tool, the sheets can be customized to collaborate with sales reps on sales pipeline. Effectively manage and track each sales opportunity by recording each key info such as estimated deal value, expected close date, probability of sales closure, sales stage, next steps.

Sales managers should setup the sheets and share them with sales reps who have permissions to edit the sheet.

Smartsheet CRM As a sales management tool it can be used to track sales pipeline by probabilitySmartsheet CRM Shows how to keep track of sales pipeline by rep

Marketing management

Can be used as an event planning and management tool which can used to plan and manage every detail of event, conference, or show: such as due dates, task completion status, estimated budget, and actual expenditure. Easy to share and update with event team, remote colleagues, and key vendors.

Smartsheet CRM Shows how Smartsheet may be used as marketing management application

Marketing managers should setup the sheets and share them with colleagues, vendors and other key stakeholders who may have permissions to edit the sheet.

Managers can plan, define marketing goals and share with everyone concerned.

Smartsheet CRM Plan your marketing efforts and track goals

As a survey collection tool, it can be used to collate and collect data generated by customer surveys.

Smartsheet-Image14-CRM-Data-collected-from-surveys

Case and customer request management

As a customer case management tool it can be used as a ‘Help Desk Ticket Tracker’.

A tracking sheet can be used to log, track, and resolve help requests. Publish a form to your web site or intranet, then share and work through the sheet with your help desk staff to ensure each item is handled quickly and thoroughly.

Smartsheet-Image15-CRM-Track-and-manage-customer-requests-in-a-transparent-manner

Project management

Manage your project schedules, track budget variances and monitor project performance all in one sheet. You may define attributes such as status, summary, budget and schedule variance. Compare estimated, actual labor, materials, and other costs. Include Gantt chart with dependencies.

Smartsheet-Image16-CRM-Use-Smartsheet-to-monitor-and-manage-projects

Integrate Smartsheet with your website using Web Forms

Smartsheet Web Forms enable anyone to collect and act on data using an easy to create and customizable form. A comprehensive forms solution that helps gather information, automatically consolidate responses, and take action directly within the sheet. These forms can be easily designed with the help of a simple drag and drop form builder.

Web Forms can be created and configured by the sheet owner and collaborators with Admin access to the sheet. These users can generate a link to the form, which can be entered into a browser’s address bar, or iFrame code to embed it into your website using simple HTML. Whenever someone submits the web form, the information is auto-populated as a new row in the related linked sheet.

The image below shows a form which when submitted puts data into the ‘survey collection sheet’ we discussed in a previous paragraph.

Smartsheet-Image17-CRM-Forms-that-can-be-put-up-on-your-website

Reporting

Smartsheet’s reporting feature can help create editable “live” summaries from several sheets. Information can be quickly discovered across any of the sheets. The reporting tool is ideal for managers useful in team meetings, and at any time high level view of work status might be required. Reports can be shared with team members and can also be saved in PDF or Excel file formats. They may as well be sent as attachments, or even be printed in full color. Report may be  scheduled wherein a copy of the report can be sent on defined intervals.

Data security

Full history of every operation is diligently maintained. It is even possible to see a history of cell revisions very simply by placing the right mouse over the cell and click ‘View History’. Very granular  access controls may be setup in which sheet creators can provide access to a single cell of data. As creator, you can see who you are sharing with and can revoke access at anytime. Some of the subscription plans also offer a useful feature wherein its possible to remove a collaborator from all sheets.



Integration with Google

Smartsheet is seamlessly integrated with Google Drive and Google in general. If your company uses Google Apps already, then integrating your Smartsheet solution would be a good idea.

Users who have installed Google Drive can attach Google documents from their Google Drive account. Its also possible to create Smartsheets directly from Google drive, however this works in Google chrome and requires installing app from chrome webstore.

Gmail contacts can be imported into Smartsheet so that you can easily share your sheets with them. Smartsheet tasks may even be displayed on your Google Calendar. Google Calendar events can be viewed in Smartsheet’s Calendar View allowing you visibility to each when working in the other.

Mobile support

Smartsheet is optimized for access by mobile devices. Mobile users can access the mobile version of the application from any smartphone or on any mobile platform, there is a dedicated app for iOS devices, the app is compatible with both iPhone and iPad devices. An native app for Android is on their radar and will be released soon.

Pricing

Its a subscription based model and the offering is divided into various subscription plans – Basic, Advanced, Team, Enterprise. Subscribers may upgrade, downgrade or cancel their subscriptions at any time.

Pricing is based on number of distinct creators (users who can create sheets and reports) who will be using Smartsheet and the plan. No license is required for inviting collaborators.

Some of the features are dependent on the plan such as number of sheets that may be created, similarly reports may only created in Advanced plans and above.

Benefits

Any enterprise tool should help improve efficiency of business users and give good ROI.

There are numerous benefits of using Smartsheet, the most significant one is its similar look to spreadsheets. The familiarity with spreadsheets is an advantage as this means much less effort needs to be spent in learning this application and a faster rate of adapting to this application.

Users who have been using MS Excel would find same features – they can use formula, apply conditional formatting, use F2 to edit cell contents, add dependencies and create linking between sheets. All your existing data can be quickly imported into this system as it can import from XLS, CSV, MS project.

Verdict

Smartsheet is an impressive application, with a very short learning curve it’s an extremely powerful system for business users. Its existing set of features and impressive product roadmap makes it a ‘go-to’ tool for those who are planning to use a cloud-based CRM or even for those planning to migrate from their existing CRM.

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