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Moving on: Still can't assign to multple people or restrict sharing...

Robert Casper
Robert Casper ✭✭
edited 12/09/19 in Archived 2017 Posts

I am giving up on running Project Management through Smartsheet.  For all of the annoyances of the MS Project / Excel World solved by Smartsheet and the incredible value for the price, it unfortunately introduces two critical flaws:

#1) Can't assign a task to multiple people.  First noted in April 2015.  I am confounded that this still is the case.  There's over two years of community +1s met with Smartsheet "keep voting so we can prioritize it".  My opinion is that there is a Steve Jobs DRI (look it up) zealot in your midst who is getting in the way of this.

#2) Can't partially restrict sharing a sheet.  First noted in October 2015.  We're stuck with sharing all or sharing nothing.  Any suggestions to use "Update Requests" or voluntary filters will reflect a lack of reading multiple threads on the topic.

These aren't feature requests.  They are core functions and the community has actively requested these for two years.

I appreciate all that you have built and all you have done, but my own world is also moving at a rapid pace.  It is unfortunately frustrating to see one new feature after the next come up to address items which don't come close to the level of discussion these items have.  As an attempted reseller partner, these are the top two reasons corporate clients can't use the product.  They are the top two reasons I can't bring it to my own corporate needs. 

Smartsheet needs  to address these items and bring back the Product Pipeline page to keep us informed of what is in the queue.  Otherwise you are hoping we hold on for the next batch of product announcements to see if we've finally really been heard.

Best of luck.


  • Richard Rymill SBP
    Richard Rymill SBP ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Robert, while I would hate to get in the way of someone who wants to get some Big  thoughts off his chest and i'm sure your suggestions will be taken in good part by the guys at Smartsheet, I have some advice and some news for you.... 

    My Advice is... if Smartsheet can do 80 -90 % of what you need it to and do all that, far better than MS Project, Project Server or Project online; then you may not find going back to MSP such a good move, I suggest you use Smartsheet for what it is very good at and go back to Microsoft for what Smartsheet is not good at. 

    The Good news is that your two issues with Smartsheet can easily be addressed in Smartsheet by using it alongside Appsheet which will allow you to allocate one task out to multiple people, aggregate their time and money spent on that task. PLUS ...

    By using Appsheet you can control who sees what?  

    If you don't believe me, I will demonstrate this very solution to you at your convenience. Our Smartsheet Clients who wish to further extend their Smartsheet use are loving this solution. There is a small cost, but nothing like the costs of what you plan with MSP.  

    Hopefully you will be pleased with this news?




  • Hello - I wanted to weigh in and share my approach as well as a 7 year project management user of Smartsheet over MS Project.

    In the 'contact' column - you can override and end multiple people's names.  Although this does not carry forward the email behind the scenes, I have implemented mechanisms to still get this information in front of the multiple resources assigned to a task:

    (1) I setup reports for the various users with criteria for anything with their name (individual or combined) -- you can then automate sending the report to people as a reminder of their tasks.  Plus the report serves as a way for the recipients to make updates to their tasks that will automatically update the underlying project plan master sheet.


    (2) If you have a Business plan that includes Sights (Dashboards) I also like to setup dashboards for the various groups / individuals and display their report on their dashboard with interaction to be able to click and go into their report view of their tasks.

    I am dealing with a vendor using Excel and MS Project and it's as painful as I remember!  So for my customer, I am bringing in the vendor's information into Smartsheet to join my tracking for them so that we have the true collaboration and things are presented to them in a way that is consumable and actionable without them having to live in my world of project management.

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams ✭✭✭✭✭✭


    That's a very interesting idea. I'm going to mull it over.

    A main drawback is the lack of Resource Management. However, since that functionality is not full-featured (in my opinion), it may be less important to many (including me).

    Your idea has sparked a follow on idea that I'm going to prototype tomorrow if I have time.

    I will withhold a full rant on multiple-users/one-task here, as Robert lists two issues and my take-away from his  post is not the functionality but rather the perceived lack of response from the Smarthsheet product team from several issue that are continually raised in the Community.



  • Robert Casper
    Robert Casper ✭✭
    edited 07/29/17

    As a Project Manager, the core appeal of Smartsheet is the opportunity to bring the project team into the scheduling tool to collaborate.  MS Project is actually more powerful as a standalone project scheduling tool.  However nobody but the project manager touches MS Project.  Even with Project Server you only get other diehard project managers to play.  The long list of action people won't (and frankly shouldn't) touch it.  In Smartsheet everyone potentially could and with the communication mechanisms, underlying processes can be made.  That is what made me excited.

    The two issues I and others have repeatedly listed however are major setbacks to that core appeal.  Activities often have multiple people assigned from different areas such that there is no politically clear singular "lead".  Also there are tons of details in a project schedule that should absolutely not be open to viewing, much less alteration, by the entire audience.  

    So the constraints of [one task - one person] and [share it all or not at all] kill the core appeal.

    If I have a single task that can surge or ease the number of people assigned, I want to put them all on the same task.  And if I need to add someone else to the task, I should be able to without weird workarounds of added columns, duplicated rows, or excessive subtasks.

    The fact that Susan can both view and change Jimmy's task information is a nightmare scenario for larger project teams.  Sure that can be somewhat managed for a small operation but compound that with 20 or 30 or 100 people and you only need 1 to screw everything up.  That is an unacceptable level of risk.

    So both those cases drive me to having to tightly manage the project schedule myself...which negates that core benefit of Smartsheet.

    Yes, I know.  Project doesn't do those things either however it is a stronger standalone tool.  If Smartsheet is going to tout its ability to foster collaboration, then they need to respond to these critical collaboration needs.

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams ✭✭✭✭✭✭


    I will rant elsewhere about why I believe multiple-users per task is nearly always poor management or simplification of the process. That may not always be a bad thing, but it depends on what you are trying to track. I understand that many people want the feature. I don't. Seriously. It breeds bad habits.

    For the share the sheet with multiple locks, I don't want to end up with the Excel's model where every cell has (potentially) its own lock. I spent too much time fixing someone else's bad design using that feature. I think one of the simplest things to do is change or add to the privileges for REPORTS. If I (as Admin) could build a Report for each user and the user would see only the columns I wanted her to see, I could also set up a "Permissions" column in the sheet to allow her to only allow see the rows I wanted her to see.

    One change that should not have too catastrophic impact on the users system as-is but would allow nearly all of the security related concerns others have expressed.

    I have tried to think about why Smartsheet does not implement certain features. It helps me when I building work-arounds and add-ons to have an opinion on whether my work will be moot later (due to Smartsheet changes) or likely not. In this case, I believe the increased security configurations at the sheet level are likely due to the system being browser based. If the code needs to check for security each time I attempt to do something, that will slow the system down. Once I am in the sheet, there is very little I do that requires a permissions check (there are a few), but not for every cell, every time I edit something. It is one thing to check "is this column or row locked" and another to check if it is locked for ME. At least, I think so. Remember at its maximum size, I have 5000 row checks for lock, and 200 column checks for lock. Not 200000 cells for locks. Maybe the code is optimized and I am likely oversimplifying anyway. But I'd rather spend browser processor resources on something else.

    Back to your post, what are your users allowed to change anyway? I would not want my engineers changing the project dates or dependencies without talking to me. Comments, % Complete, attachments, but what else is really their decision?

    My experience with MS Project is based on managers that used it as a glorified Gantt chart generator. No resource loading, no real dependencies, no real WBS creation. High level project views with the project run by the engineers (without access to the schedule). I did not do it that way but for managers like them, Smartsheet is vastly as better tool. 





  • Hi Robert,

      I definitely understand and have felt your pain on large scale projects! I know work arounds are frustrating and I wish my work arounds were a viable solution for you. 

  • One additional I item I wanted to share/weigh in on was the topic of Resource Management and Smartsheet.

    I will go ahead and confess -- because you may start to wonder -- I loved Smartsheet so much as a project manager that I joined them in Consulting Services in 2016 and just recently left in May 2017 to do independent consulting for project management services.  I still use Smartsheet and still love many things about it because of the pain points it DOES solve for me as a person going on 18 years of being a project manager.  But as I mentioned above - I do get some of the frustration around the work arounds some of us have offered up.

    If you have a need for more robust resource management than what is included 'in app', there are a few options that are not readily known based on what is on Smartsheet's website.

    One is a vendor that has integrated with Smartsheet called TempusResource by Prosymmetry. http://prosymmetry.com/

    Another option is to engage with Smartsheet's consulting services for a custom solution build - complex resource management was one of the biggest asks of Enterprise level customers.  There is an option here using a combination of Smartsheet, advanced formulas and two premium apps Smartsheet offers as integration (1) Pivot App (2) DataMesh.



  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams ✭✭✭✭✭✭


    Thanks for the Prosymmetry link. I hadn't seen that one.

    I have not been impressed with DataMesh. I really hope it isn't the basis for what the Dev Team is rolling out for cross sheet lookups. Or that it is but much better than what I have seen.

    Both Pivot App and DataMesh are too expensive for non-Enterprise customers, in my opinion (and the opinion of my customers). We can provide the same functionality using other 3rd party tools at a fraction of the cost. But ... since I don't have access to them on a typical project, my opinion could be skewed.

    I was going to private message you if you were the same Michelle Watkins that used to be an employee. Thanks for beating me to it and clearing that up.



  • Andrée Starå
    Andrée Starå ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi Robert,

    Not sure if you're still here but I thought that this might help you and maybe make you come back to Smartsheet.

    Yes, assigning multiple people to a task is now available.

    Please see the attached link/screenshot for more information.


    I hope this helps you!


    Andrée Starå

    Workflow Consultant @ Get Done Consulting


    Hi all,

    We're pleased to announce that you can now quickly & easily assign tasks to multiple people. To do so, check the new "Allow multiple contacts per cell" checkbox in any contact column. The cells in that column will then allow up to 20 people to be added.

    You can still leave that option unchecked when you only want a single person to be assigned to a task at a time.

    Adding multiple contacts to a cell is useful not only for assigning people, but also for other scenarios where you want to associate multiple stakeholders with a row. For example, you might want those people to receive notifications when the row changes, or you may want them to appear in reports and filters.

    For some projects, you may want to add 2 contact columns: one for the primary owner, and another for additional team members.

    We welcome you to try it out and let us know what you think.

    - Daniel


    Andrée Starå | Workflow Consultant / CEO @ WORK BOLD

    W: www.workbold.com | E:andree@workbold.com | P: +46 (0) - 72 - 510 99 35

    Feel free to contact me for help with Smartsheet, integrations, general workflow advice, or anything else.

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