Smartsheet is a cloud-based work management tool designed to be simple and easy to use by a broad range of employees. Launched in 2006, it began to gain ground after a 2010 redesign in which a significant number of features were cut.

 

Now, more than 70,000 companies use the application, including half of the Fortune 500; customers range from Google and Netflix to the U.S. General Services Administration.

 

Its success stems from its ability to appeal to a wider range of business users, specifically project managers, according to Chris Marsh, research director at 451 Research. For Bellevue, Wash.-based Smartsheet, this means combining a familiar spreadsheet format with richer work management and collaboration capabilities.

 

It competes against more widely used task management products like Asana and Trello.

 

How does Smartsheet work?

Although it has similarities to more traditional project management apps, Smartsheet is part of a new generation of emerging work management tools that includes the likes Clarizen, Workfront, Asana, Planview’s Projectplace, Wrike and others.

 

“As rich as the potential is from these vendors, there isn’t an easy way to describe this category: more agile than project and portfolio management tools, more comprehensive than team and task management, collaborative in nature but not collaboration tools,” said Marsh.

 

At its heart is a simple user interface that focuses on ‘sheets’ similar to Excel spreadsheets, which have long been used to manage projects but can become unwieldy and complex to use.

 

There are a number of ways to track the progress and status of projects within Smartsheet. The company last year added Kanban boards similar to those seen in Trello with the launch of Card View; users can also manage tasks from the app’s calendar feature.

 

 There are also capabilities designed to track work at a high level. In 2016, for example, Smartsheet launched a visualization dashboard, Sights, to offer businesses a window into the work being done across teams such as important projects, deadlines and goals. One goal: to offer greater visibility into bottlenecks on complex projects.

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