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Post Trial Review of Smartsheet as an IT Project Management solution
I've been assessing Smartsheet as a viable replacement for MS Project at our office over the last 30 days and I thought I'd share my finding with the Smartsheet community in case somebody else is also doing such a review. I'd also invite Smartsheet to respond to my observations if they feel I've misrepresented anything below (or have alternate work-arounds to these issues).
- Single Resource Allocation: Smartsheet does not allow more than one resource to be assigned to each task. The recommended work-around is to insert one sub-task per resource under the task requiring multiple resources.
- Sheet Limit: Our anticipated licence type was “Team”. This license type has a limit of 50 sheets per license. This restriction is somewhat mitigated by the sheet limit being shared among all licences in the group. For example, if we have a 30 member group for our IT PMO, the group will have a maximum of 1500 sheets to share among all 30 members.
- Effort: Smartsheet does not have a default column for calculating the effort expended on a task. For example, if a task has a 5 day duration and the resource assigned to the task is assigned at 50% allocation, the total effort for that task should be 2.5 man-days of effort. Smartsheet has no column that calculates this automatically, but one can be constructed using the applications basic formula functionality. You can also sum the effort of all subtasks using the command “=SUM(CHILDREN())”. This can be used on both embedded subtasks in the body of the plan or on Line 1 for a sum of the entire project.
- Resource Costs: Smartsheets resource management features do not include a rate for each resource nor does the Resource Management templates come with default fields for assigning costs per task. The current solution is to manually add resource costs to the group’s shared Employee sheet, add a group of linked rows to the bottom of your project sheet that is linked to the name and rate of the employee’s included in your project and then use the LOOKUP function in your project sheet to automatically calculate your task costs. The same summation features apply to Resource Costs as to Effort through the use of the “=SUM(CHILDREN())” function. This results in a total cost being automatically calculated for all sub-tasks, rolled-up tasks and total project. Note that Smartsheet is currently working on the ability to use the LOOKUP command between sheets. This will eliminate the need to insert linked fields from one sheet to the bottom of another in order to use LOOKUP.
- Registered Users only for Resource Management: ** Community feedback corrected this misunderstanding (thanks Craig). All resources can be tracked regardless of licencing status.
- % Complete is calculated based on duration (not cost): Ten concurrent sub-tasks each taking 1 day will have a rolled-up master task duration of only 1 day (even though it has 10 days of effort). If that rolled-up task is in a project with an additional 9 1-day single tasks, completing all 10 sub-tasks will only result in the project being 10% complete (even though you have completed over 50% of the effort). This will seriously compromise any earned value calculations.
If you have found any other challenges related to Smartsheet as an IT project management application, please add your own comments. To balance this conversation, please also feel free to describe any successes you've experienced using Smartsheet for project management.
We have not decided yet if these workarounds are worth the effort, but any additional comments would be appreciated.