The Mythological Product Development Team

jrobbinsjrobbins
edited 12/09/19 in Using Smartsheet
04/19/18 Edited 12/09/19

Once again, I have gone in search of what I would consider a perfectly logical and necessary function only to find that Smartsheet can't accommodate.  When I call customer service, I receive the same answer every time: “We don’t currently offer that function, but we will submit this to our product development team and they will take a look at it.”  I then check the community forums and find people who have been asking for the same thing since 2015!  Again, the same response is given that the mythological product development team is on it.  Does this team even exist?  When I inquire about what they’re working on with customer service, I can never get an answer, as if their work is classified top secret.  I stumble upon the famous “workarounds” that never seem to fully address my needs and are always cumbersome and complicated to implement.  Of course, we get a new user interface roll out that moves the menu buttons to the top of the screen instead of the left side.  Boy, I sure am glad we invested resources into fixing that awful layout problem!  We’ll put all the projects that people have been requesting for years on the back burner while we do this.  I mean, who needs functionality when you have a pretty looking interface, am I right?  (insert as much sarcasm as possible into the last 3 sentences to drive the point home)

I can’t possibly be the only one who is this frustrated.  I’d like to call on the Smartsheet community to list the perfectly reasonable and logical changes you’d like to see in Smartsheet on this forum thread and let’s see if we can’t spur them to action on this list.  I’d also like to request that Smartsheet release what product enhancements they are working on and their justification for prioritizing the workload.  Surely, they can create a dashboard to show that…or at least a workaround for it.

I am currently requesting the following items.  Please add yours to the list below:

  • True recurring task functions
  • Parent/child relationship carried over to reports
  • Hyperlink data labels on charts in dashboards
  • Master contact lists that can be updated and cascade through all of the sheets.  That way when I add a new employee to my company, I don’t have to go through every individual sheet to add them as an option for “assigned to” columns
  • Templates that can save notification rules
  • Ability to turn off notifications for updates by current user across the entire sheet, rather than each individual user having to personally deactivate it
  • Remove the 100 cross sheet reference limits on sheets (this is just absurd)
  • Option to apply formulas to an entire column range so that even if you skip a line, the formula still continues.  This would also protect the formula from being deleted.  Yes, I know you can lock a column, but this would allow it so you could delete rows without fear of losing formula
  • AVERAGEIF formulas.  You have COUNTIF and SUMIF, why not AVERAGEIF?

Comments

  • Mike WildayMike Wilday ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good luck. Here is a couple from my list. 

    • Some kind of Timestamp functionality to record the date a field was changed. Ie. (when a checkbox was checked)
    • Ability to assign editors to reports without being editors on the main sheet. (To allow vendors the opportunities to see their rows without having access to everyone else's rows on the main sheet).
  • Mike WildayMike Wilday ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would also add: 

    • The ability to view reports in Card View so that people can use card view with projects that are specific to them. 
    • The ability to sort only by parent rows instead of every row within a parent row. (We have several projects that need to be sorted but when we sort it sorts the parent and the children within the parent.)
  • Jrobbins and Mike, 

    Thanks for elevating us to mythical status, however I assure we are just as human as everyone else ;) 

    Smartsheet has a large number of customers (over 70,000 unique domains) and this community site and the enhancement request form are one of many ways we take feedback from them. We work closely with our support organization, our sales teams, our customer success teams (account management) and our consulting teams. All of these groups are working directly with customers every day. As a result, the product team is often pulled into calls directly with customer as well as going on multiple customer visits per year. We also have an in house research team to validate new feature ideas and run usability tests on unreleased features, and while we know that we cannot please everyone we do make substantial efforts to ensure we are releasing features that benefit the largest possible number of our users. 

    There are no shortages of good ideas, and many of the ideas posted on this site are things we ourselves wish the product included (e.g. card view on reports), however there is a limited amount of time and resources to build new capabilities. Charting is a brand new feature for us and after the launch in February we have recently added a number of new chart types, Similarly we spent a large amount of time investing in automation rules over the last 12 months (BTW you CAN save notification rules in templates). For a more comprehensive list check out https://community.smartsheet.com/announcements

    All the features we ship must balance customer value with cost to deliver, we also need to balance features for power users and making things  simple and more familiar for new users. Our customers are amazing and use Smartsheet for thousands of different use cases, some are simple some are complex, it is a fun challenge to build a platform for such a diverse group, but I assure you we are listening...we just don't have mythical powers. 

    Cheers, and thanks for the feedback,

    Robin

  • I just tested the notifications being saved as a template and it does not work.  It saves the rules but drops all of the email addresses.  What's the point of saving the rule if you have to go back and put all of the contact information back in?

  • Chris McKayChris McKay ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 04/25/18

    Hi Robin,

    Thank you for the detailed response. While I appreciate that the Product Team has limited resources, it's the strategic decisions that are letting you down, not the timeline of new features being delivered.

    I don't think anyone will argue against the Charts feature, as it makes the Dashboards an infinitely more valuable tool than they were. When designing dashboards for multiple audiences, it's nice to be able to consolidate or simply information for time-poor executives or drill down into details for project team members. The additional Chart Types were nice, but at this stage, completely unnecessary.

    Enhancements like this should never be prioritised above remediating gaping holes, bugs or issues with the current platform. Rather than adding the additional chart types, time should have been spent fixing core issues (e.g. System Times, Multiple Resources, Baselines, Cell-link & Cross-sheet Reference limits etc.).

    The shortfall with the Notifications raised by jrobbins is a prime example of something that is only half-implemented. How about things like forcing grey Parent Task Bars upon us? Who decided that was a good idea? We can set colours for Child Tasks, so it almost looks like it was intentional.

    What sort of testing is done outside the product team? I'm apparently on the early access list, but I'm never involved prior to the features being set in stone. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that including notifications in templates is only useful if it retains the contact information originally configured.

    It's frustrating to see Smartsheet being hampered by poor decisions that do not take into account the impact it will have on your customers. It actually takes some of the gloss off the features you implement well (e.g. Charts) when we're still frustrated by half-baked inclusions and judgement calls that mandate how things should be without taking into account the needs of the majority of your customers.

    Kind regards,

    Chris McKay

  • I've also been disappointed with the pace of product development at Smartsheet. It seems that every time I can't figure out how to do a basic task, I just need to search the Smartsheet community...and I'll find a discussion going back several years with numerous users requesting the same feature, and being told that their votes have been added to the list.

    But perhaps I'm not being fair, I thought. Perhaps the product development team has been hard at work, adding useful functionality - just not the functionality I need. So I looked at the Release Notes, going back to 2015. There have been a lot of releases - but mostly bug fixes and UI enhancements. In terms of adding core functionality...not so much.

    I selected Smartsheet as the collaborative project management tool for my company because I liked the user interface. I believe that's what attracts most new users - and judging from the release notes, that's what they've made the decision to focus on in terms of product development. But while UI might have made the sale, functionality is what will determine how long this relationship lasts.

    Based on my experience thus far - the number of things I haven't been able to do, and Smartsheet's apparent lack of interest in improving functionality - I'm not expecting to have a long-term relationship with Smartsheet. And I certainly wouldn't recommend it to a colleague looking for a robust project management solution.

     

  • BEING ABLE TO MENTION PEOPLE IN COMMENTS, which has also been requested since 2016

  • As someone who has been directly involved in the programming nightmare that are certain projects, I appreciate and understand most of what Robin says in his response. I understand that it is not possible to please everyone...

    That said, some of the concerns raised by Chris, David, jrobbins, and others are definitely warranted! I haven't been using the software too long and already have noticed a few key features lacking in Smartsheet. Some of these requests are quite simple to implement and would mean a world of difference to those customers, as well as the thousands of others that have the complaint but find a work-around or don't even know they need it till it's there.

    For how bulky Excel and other programs are, it is nice to see the power functions that it possesses (again, not used by all, but definitely nice). Smartsheet's CEO said that most Excel users utilize 8% of the formulas/functionality, but (as you can see here) that's not 100% true. As a power user, it can be difficult to use parts of this software.

    Thank you,

    Oliver

  • I would like to add that still not being able to do @user tags with notifications is becoming a major issue that is pushing us to evaluate other platforms.  I see requests for this feature on the SmartSheet Community going back to 2016 (likely even earlier).  Do you know when this will be implemented?

    Thanks.

  • Mike WildayMike Wilday ✭✭✭✭✭
  • edited 12/03/20

    We've only been using Smartsheet for our business for less than a year and it's already replaced many of the old excel/paper based systems we have used. For most the part it's been absolutely fantastic in it's ability to do almost anything you want it to do within the confines of it's aim. I wouldn't be over exaggerating to say the difference it's made to the business has been sizable in how we communicate and share date across departments.

    However, I understand your exact frustrations with the lack of innovations in the day to day usability. Seemingly simple functions that have been omitted often have multiple threads going back years asking for it, and yet you still hear crickets from the dev team many years later.

    It's great bit of software, but the lack of any sort of dev transparency is a major source of frustration. Of course someone always rolls up with the typical 'That's a great idea! Why don't you suggest it to our team using this form!' but that's starting to feel like more and more of an insult each time I get that as a response to a question. Submit your idea that 1001 other people have also asked for to this black hole where ideas go to be forgotten. It's getting to the point where I really can't be bothered to submit any ideas as I know it's a waste of my time.


    Two very simple ones I have that come to mind are:

    • Ability to use time, not just entire days in dates.
    • On date formats it would be nice to see more options such as just month or Month and year. Sometimes i've needed to just show eg April 2020, and to find that I cannot do that without having 01 April 2020.


  • The last bullet point can be solved by using column formulas.

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