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users feel intimidated by Smartsheet

I collaborate with many people who have no PM experience and/or prefer memo-style information over cell-based.  Some people feel overwhelmed by the tool so they send emails rather than update Smartsheet.  Beyond the training and show-me sessions we already do, how might I help people embrace Smartsheet?

 

Do you know of ways to present the tool in a more user-friendly way while maintaining links to an existing sheet?  The ideal would be a memo-style report where people can make changes that would push back to the sheets.

Comments

  • Jim Hook
    Jim Hook ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    The only simple way I can think of off the top of my head is to use the Discussion feature for each project. This is just like posting a short message and it shows the person and time they did the post. Alerts can be set up so that others get an email notification (immediately, hourly, daily or weekly) when someone posts on the sheet. That can become annoying if there are many posts on different projects that others are not involved with all on the same sheet.

  • Thanks, Jim.  That's better than an email.  I think it's going to be a matter of education and exposure since we'd still have the task of ensuring responses get logged in the cells they need to be in.

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams Top Contributor

    YRE,

     

    I use Discussions during requirements gathering and initial development.

    I create a "Questions" sheet that has the brief description of the question and a place for an answer.

    I send that as an Update Request, allowing discussions and attachments.

    User responds via the Update Request or I go over the process again.

    Elaboration on the question go into the Discussions and that gets passed back and forth.

    As originator of the Update Request, I get immediate feedback from Smartsheet on the answer and that cuts out one email. Users tend to start seeing the benefit of the collaboration centered on Smartsheet rather than on emails.

     

    In general, for new users, if something CAN be done in Smartsheet, try to incorporate that into the workflow. Emails, meeting invites, etc...

     

    Hope that helps.


    Craig

  • Atus Bartal
    Atus Bartal ✭✭✭✭✭

    Craig,

    thanks for the detailed description, I like learning about best practices.

    What I don't understand: what do you use columns in this "Questions" sheet for? To record the agreements or something about the status of an issue? A lot of posts in a discussion may be confusing after a while, you should have a clearer picture, I guess. Do you send out Update Requests or Rows later with more information, or use the whole sheet in meetings later? Thanks. 

     

    YRE,

    What I always tell new users, it's really much more time saving to write a few words about a topic in Smartsheet than to start an email with adressees (not to forget someone...), subject, greetings, description of the issue, questions-answers, greetings again etc - not to speak about searching previous emails in the topic... 10 seconds compared to 3-5 minutes. They usually get it.

     

    Atus

     

     

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams Top Contributor

    Atus,

     

    I'm still refining the process.

    Often, the first set of questions can be asked and answered without commentary in the Discussions.

    As a consultant, I usually have something to do after I get the answer, so there is column to mark that I'm done.

     

    There are 6 columns:

    Question_ID - a running ID (Q001, Q002, etc..) so I can reference it easily elsewhere.

    Question - the question. Gets updated occassionally as it gets refined.

    Comments - clarification or expanding note on the question

    Process_Impact - if it is pertinent, I'll add what part of a process or schedule the question pertains too. This helps (I hope) to put the question into context.

    Answer - the answer goes here. If it gets answered by the other party in an attachment or discussion, I'll summarize.

    Action_Taken - I mark to say I have gotten the answer, processed it, understood it, and nothing else is needed on the question. 

     

    I also use an Action Item list, which has some overlap, so I'm open to new methods to streamline it further.

     

    For your last question ( Do you send out Update Requests or Rows later with more information, or use the whole sheet in meetings later?), it depends.

    I will send Update Requests on one or more rows. If there are a lot of things to clarify (either my question or their answer), we'll set aside a portion of a meeting to go over them. At some point, the written word stops being the best effective method and I gladly shift to speaking. 

     

    YRE,

    To expand on Atus comment, if you have people "joining the conversation" later, then the Discussions are better than email, in my opinion. It is already consolidate, less likely 'hijacked' for a different topic too.

     

    Craig

     

     

  • Atus Bartal
    Atus Bartal ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks, Craig, for the detailed answer!

    That's quite refined by now :)  I've learnt a lot. 

     

    Emails:

    I don't know when companies will transcend the email-word-excel trinity (regardless they have ERP or CRM, or they are small or multinational enterprises). But there are exceptions. A friend of mine is a CEO at a health care management consulting group, and they introduced a system (unfortunately not Smartsheet :(, but a private development), and stopped sending emails within the company. 20 employees, 40 contracted consultants, ca. 100 hospitals they work for, and 0 email. All documents and communications are kept and managed within the system. And I'm talking about Hungary, not the US... So we can hope... :)

     

    Atus

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams Top Contributor
    edited 04/25/16

    Atus,

     

    I get two main things out of writing such long posts.

    1. It helps me to write down the process, especially if I haven't already, and sometimes I learn something/think about something in a different way.

    2. I hope it might help others and that brings contentment.

    That might be three things.

     

    0 email sounds like a dream. 

    Has anyone done a study on how much time/money has been saved or lost?

     

    Craig

  • Thanks.  We've used the update requests to some advantage.  Some people who need to update cells have taken to it immediately, recognizing the similarity to Excel.  Others feel ambivalent, and the one key player - the person resonsible for reporting to our parent company - is the most resistent.  We attempted to share the sheets with Corporate, but it didn't work due to techincal issues. 

  • Atus Bartal
    Atus Bartal ✭✭✭✭✭

    Craig, I'll ask him about the quantitative results, but the qualitative ones were said to be obvious for them - e.g. managers can see all information about a project or contract at one place. I'm just writing all these because it might be the main advantage of using Smartsheet for teams (even if they like emails :)

  • J. Craig Williams
    J. Craig Williams Top Contributor

    I definitely push the collaborative benefits of Smartsheet.

     

    There are other solutions for PM's but communication is the biggest obstacle in most projects, so having a tool that end users are involved with, even at the expense of a PM's time, is well worth it in my opinion.

     

    Craig

     

     

  • Atus Bartal
    Atus Bartal ✭✭✭✭✭

    I agree, absolutely

  • I really appreciate the input.  When it comes down to it, our situation is as follows.

     

    When I was responsible for updating certain reports, I'd send reminders directly from Smartsheet and use reports to keep the views down to the fields a user needed.  Users would enter information directly in the Smartsheet reports, thus updating the data in one step. The regular exposure made it work. Now a higher-level person has the responsibility and he doesn't manage the data with smartsheet because he likes to view everything in memo format. A memo-style interface, along with the same auto-update functionality, would probably win him over.  He's all for improvement, he's just not warmed up to the worksheet format.

This discussion has been closed.