Does Smartsheet even care about users?

jb@59069 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited 12/09/19 in Smartsheet Basics

We started using Smartsheet in October 2017. It WAS a great help to us for time, expense tracking and project management. We made serious gains in productivity once we figured out how to use Smartsheet for our specific needs. All was well and we were happy. I spent a lot of time combing through the Community, Help, videos, online training, attended a Smartsheet two-day event in Austin.

I was however, becoming somewhat concerned in finding user requests that would GREATLY help our situation, languishing on the Community, with initial requests dating  back to 2014, 2013, 2012. The only movement from Smartsheet seemed to be a corporate canned response of: "I've logged your vote." But these significant requests have gone unanswered. In late 2018, Smartsheet even stopped offering the canned response of "I've logged your vote", (most likely thrown on the trash or deleted), so now there is ZERO knowledge or record of any request being recorded.

There is the "Submit Product Enhancement Request", but this is an automated response that an average chimpanzee could be tasked with.

Yet, we renewed our subscription October 2018.

Then December 13, 2018 arrived with the new UX. I even signed up for and attended the related webinar, which was poorly presented and basically worthless. Seemed like some manager walked by that morning's sales hire desk and said, "Oh, by the way, you're presenting a webinar on the new UX in 10 minutes. Good luck."

During the webinar, it was admitted that Smartsheet knew this new UX would burden system resources even more. This has affected me greatly based on how my workday goes, how many browser windows I already used prior to this pile of garbage. Before the new UX was forced on us, I was rebooting 1-2 times per week. Now that I have to have even more browser windows open in Windows, a notoriously inefficient memory resource hog, I am rebooting 2-4 time EACH DAY due to "Out of memory" messages and lockups.

I sent an email to Support voicing my issues and frustration and actually received a call from Smartsheet!

Hold on, they tasked a sales person to discuss my technical issues. Complete waste of time as he continually repeated that he was in sales, could not address my technical issue, but he would report them.

I doubt that Smartsheet even cares about real user needs. Based on the length of time that real, meaningful user requests have gone unaddressed, yet this moronic, at best, UX has been shoved down our throats, it is glaringly apparent that either: 1) Smartsheet does not have the technical ability to address these issues, or; 2) Smartsheet does not care about real user issues, only new sales.

Personally, I believe it is both.

I spent 20 years designing and building plastic injection molds, vacuum and thermoform molds, as well as managing tooling shops. I started out my computer life after leaving the Army in 1986, working on a proprietary 2D CAD system running on a PDP-11 using two 8-inch floppy drives, having to draw all geometric shapes on graph paper and calculate, by hand, all lines, arcs, intersections, elipses, etc. I was a Beta tester back in the DOS days for MasterCAM and CADKey, with direct phone numbers to the company owners and programmers. I was a Beta tester for SolidWorks in the 1990's with direct emails and phone numbers of various executives and coders. I've used Pro Engineer, AutoCAD, SmartCAM, BobCAD, operated and programmed 3, 4 and 5-axis machining centers, CNC lathes, Bridgeport mills, manual and CNC EDM machines and grinders. I spent another 9 years designing water treatment plants in SolidWorks for industrial and municipal sites all over the world.

That said, I have never experienced such a bassackwards implementation of a UI and lack of response to user's requests for real, substantial improvements.

We track time and expenses for clients in Smartsheet. We have to track based on project, phase, deliverable by date ranges. I have many sheets, specific to each client, with multiple date columns, each column containing 80-180 formulas.

I need to create new date columns and edit the formula based on a DATE statement. This requires me to edit each formula individually. Thankfully I can cut & paste, but with 180 formulas per column, in just one sheet, this is time consuming and we can't eliminate the human error factor completely.

Find & Replace for formulas was requested in 2014 I believe, with multiple users echoing the need. "I've logged your vote." is the only response.

Copy columns within and between sheets is another, suffering the same dead end.

Freeze rows, Conditional formatting of rows, not just columns, etc. These and many more are multiple year old requests that apparently lie at the bottom of the Smartsheet digital Mariana Trench.

Sadly, instead of allocating my time to increasing our capability in Smartsheet, it appears that I must now spend my time and resources, searching for a replacement.

I have learned a valuable lesson though. Research the product's user groups/forums before signing the contract.


  • Robin Sherwood


    My name is Robin Sherwood. I'm the Senior Director of Product Management for the Application Experience team here at Smartsheet. I was one of the presenters on the webinar you referenced. I was the product manager for the UI refresh project directly. I'm stating this only as a means to say that I'm not in sales, or support or disconnected from the work in any way. Yes I am a manager, but I was the person directly responsible for making these changes to the UI. I also read and post in this community. Not every post of course but I do try to follow posts related to features I have worked on and Shaine alerts me to posts I may want to participate in. I have been following and engaging in this community since it was launched. When a user submits an enhancement request either via the form on this site, or through their sales rep or customer success manger at Smartsheet, all of that goes into a sheet where we track these requests. Every week I get a digest email of all new requests for the week. Most weeks this is the first message I read the morning it is delivered.

    This community, and the sheets that track enhancement requests are two big sources of feedback for our teams, however, they do pose a challenge. Periodically we aggregate all the feedback and look for trends looking to answer a key question "Of all the requests we get what is the most popular?" We know exactly what it is. The most popular request of all time is Multiple Assignees on a contact column. This was the feature we shipped at our user conference in October 2018. Now, multi assignee has been #1 for a while and it may seem odd that it took so long to add to the product. Well the thing is, out of all of our requests multiple assignee makes up 2.7%. Second place is Multi-Select Drop-downs with 2.5%. then things start to trail off. However, as an aggregate enhancements around dashboards and reporting account for 9% of all requests so do we focus on dashboards and reports? or multi-select? Or try to do both? 

    Another other key factor in whether a feature gets prioritized is how much it will cost to do? Sometimes features that appear to be "a simple change" are not at all. To use multiple assignees as an example the request is "just let me add more than one person to a contact column." This has to work with conditional formatting, filters, automation rules, notifications, reminders, resource allocations, reporting to name a few. This project took nearly 9 months for a  small team of developers to complete a "simple" change. This is the nature of software. As products grow and become more capable they also become more complex. We have great engineers but this is challenging work and takes time to do right. So we spent the better part of a year to address 2.7% of our user requests. The vast majority of requests are well below 1%.  

    Because of the broad distribution of requests, if features were based purely on "votes", most of the items people seem to be frustrated about in the community would never get done, there simply are not enough votes. So how do we solve for this. We talk to customers directly. We try to understand what you are using Smartsheet for, we try to understand what challenges you face in your business. We have over 75,000 companies using Smartsheet on over 2000 documented use cases. We look for commonalities across the use cases to prioritize features that benefit a large number of users. We also build features that will unlock new use cases for our customers so they can do more with the tool. 

    I'm happy to get on a call with you, have a screenshare and try and understand how you are using Smartsheet. I cannot promise we will make the specific changes you ask for, but I can promise we will listen and try to understand your role and your business. If you want to chat just reply and we will look up your contact info an reach out directly. 




    (aka this morning's sales desk new hire)

  • Tucker Webb

    As a new user on Smartsheet and considering whether or not this software is right for me and my business, I have to say I am almost locked into onboarding with this program. To me it's really important that companies such as yourselves (smartsheet) listen to the users and really care about what they want and are looking for as we run businesses ourselves and hurdles we experience in your programs can really cost us a lot of time and money. It's great to see the dialogue between you two Robin and JB. I'm quite impressed with your response and how you keep your cool Robin, good on you guys for hashing it out. Smartsheet staff and team seem like the kind of people I want to engage with.

    Oh btw, lol, please consider making tasks easier to create, currently you have to spend a lot of time constantly clicking in and out of each cell in the primary column when creating a task or sub task, only just to create a new task or sub task, there should be a new cell created below every time we press enter and if you decide to close the keyboard down after you've hit enter and it brings you to a new cell, exiting the typing window will than close down the new cell entry and keep the sheet compact and clean. I think creating new tasks and sub tasks quickly would really help a lot of people, everyone really. It's an important feature to have. I'm also quite confused that for an app so amazing, why we cannot create saved field views as templates, say I have a new sheet and I want to update the sheet with new fields and formatting, you could call that a "view", well now I can't add a view template into smartsheet into my existing sheet, I have to manually create new fields. I think you guys need to have global custom fields, this would save so much time and effort. Clickup does this really, really well and I really hope you guys consider making the program easier to use in these ways.

    Anyways, thanks for the good read and cheers to you both. Amazing product so far, just think there is a bit too much double entry stuff and you guys could streamline it a bit better.