Software

How to set up projects in Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a web-based work management and automation solution for managing projects and tasks. Here's a quick 101 on setting up sheets to manage your project.

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Image: iStock/littlehenrabi

If you're new to Smartsheet, this "how-to" is for you. The first thing you need to to know is that a 'sheet' represents a project in Smartsheet and is comprised of multiple features. To simplify things, Smartsheet has created several industry-based project templates for you to choose from, with the option to create your own from scratch.

There are a few ways to create a sheet for your project.

  1. Click on the + sign beside the 'Home" tab;
  2. Click on the "Create New" drop down box and pick from the available sheet types from the available list.
  3. Click on the 'Import' drop down box and select the location for your file to import from the available list.
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Figure 1

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

If you've selected option 1, you'll see the screen in Figure 2 (below), and you'll have these additional selection choices:

  1. Use the search function to find a 'sheet' by keyword.
  2. Select one of the available sheets shown in the box.
  3. Pick one of the templates, which are designed for industry-specific projects
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Figure 2

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

Here, I've selected the "Basic Project with Gantt & Dependencies" template to work with. The next step is to rename and save the template. Make sure to adjust any formatting that you'd like to preserve and also the location you choose to save the new sheet (Figure 3).

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Figure 3

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

After you've saved the file, you'll see a new tab beside the 'Home' tab on the screen. It will show the template with the project name you've assigned (Figure 4).

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Figure 4

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

Now that you've created your first sheet, you're ready to start customizing elements of the sheet/project. (See Figure 5.) Everything is driven off the 'Task Name' column since this is the key field.

  1. Right-click on any column; you'll see all available menu options for each column.
  2. You can also add new columns and click-and-drag to reorder them.
  3. You can rename each deliverable, task, etc. by double-clicking and typing over the existing name.
  4. The Gantt chart dates and dependencies will update automatically as you set up your project start and end dates and predecessors. The Gantt chart can be directly modified by simply using a click-and-drag motion to change dates and dependencies.
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Figure 5

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

Setting and adjusting other columns

To add attachments, right click on any row under the third column — the one represented by a paperclip icon (Figure 6) — to select a file you want to upload/link to the associated task.

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Figure 6

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

If you right-click on each of the columns above you'll be presented with all the available options for each one (See Figure 7).

  • Clicking on the rows under the 'Comments' column allows you to send comments to the individual(s) in the 'Assigned to' column.
  • Clicking in the row actions column (the one marked with an italicized i) allows you to set reminders for specific tasks.
  • You can set start dates and end dates for tasks and set dependencies using rows under the 'Predecessors' column. Note: this can also be done in the Gantt chart using a drag-and-drop feature.
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Figure 7

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

At the bottom of each sheet (Figure 8) users can share information, get alerts, send attachments, add comments, update requests, create webforms, publish data and see activity logs. Once a user clicks on Sharing, Smartsheet gives users the ability to share any of the tasks, subtasks, deliverables, attachments or even the entire sheet/project with others for seamless collaboration.

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Figure 8

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

Collaborators are selected from your 'Contacts' list, and permissions can be assigned to users based on needs and roles (Figure 9).

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Figure 9

Image: Moira Alexander/TechRepublic

Congratulations, you've now created and shared your project using Smartsheet!

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About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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