Best practice question for dashboards and performance

I am in the process of changing everything over to Smartsheet from another package, and am having a great experience so far.

I did have a question for experienced users that has to do with best practices when displaying information on a dashboard though: Is it better to have a helper sheet, or use the Sheet Summary for information that I am collecting for my dashboard?

To give a little background, one of the things I am working on is collecting post-implementation surveys from team members. Of course I have to provide a "free-form" text field for additional comments, and not just the rating scales. I had started by creating a table that has a column for each text field, and has the formula:

=JOIN(COLLECT({RANGE}, {RANGE}, >""), CHAR(10) + CHAR(10))

to collect all the instances from the other sheet where a comment was collected for that field. (Thanks to the community here for the CHAR value making it look better!)

This solution was working good, but I didn't like the fact that it had the column name in the data, and was looking for a solution to that, when I realized that since I use the Sheet Summary in other sheets, I could probably use the same formula on the original sheet and get the same results:

=JOIN(COLLECT([ColumnName]:[ColumnName], [ColumnName]:[ColumnName], CHAR(10) + CHAR(10))

I get a better result when adding a Metric Widget from the Sheet Summary, than a Report Widget, which is a report running off the extra sheet that is collecting the data from the original sheet. (See picture below. The top two rows are from the report, the bottom two are from the Sheet Summary.)

So after all this - my question is which is the best practice solution?

I prefer to use the Sheet Summary (second solution). It doesn't need a report that is simply gathering all the comments together, and it looks cleaner on the dashboard.

With the Sheet Summary solution, templates are easier too. I am a big fan of having a template, configuring a few fields, and having the project mapped out in a couple of minutes. I simply copy the pre-configured template and modify it as needed. With the Post-Implementation survey, it is a snap.

So which should I do from a "best practice" standpoint? Is having all that data in the Sheet Summary going to slow down page loads, or is there something I am missing by using them? I think it might be the ideal solution when I am not referencing other sheets, but I am new to Smartsheet and would like an experts opinion before I make the changes to my templates.

Thank you.


  • Paul Newcome
    Paul Newcome ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    It should be fine to just use Sheet Summary fields, but it could get tough to manage if you end up with a bunch of them.

    I personally like to use a separate sheet (or sheets) to gather my metrics and whatnot for my dashboards. It provides for greater flexibility, better scaling, easier management and visibility when creating, etc..

    At the end of the day though... It really just boils down to personal preference if you are not using Control Center.

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