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Tool Review: Resource Management by Smartsheet

There’s an ongoing debate about how project management tools will fit into the future of work. As digital PMs, we’re needing to adapt to the changing nature of how teams are structured. Top-down expectations from executive teams are increasingly metric-driven, and the people who are doing the work – like creatives, strategists, and developers – are wanting more flexibility, transparency, and autonomy to effectively get their work done.

A frustrating part of our jobs as DPMs is that we often don’t trust the data in the tools we use, whether it’s a homemade spreadsheet or a robust piece of software. Because our team members don’t reliably make updates, we often have the added hassle of chasing them down to get the metrics we need. While we’re responsible for keeping track of all the moving parts throughout a project’s lifecycle, if we don’t have up-to-date data, it can be difficult to answer key questions to keep the process going smoothly.

The challenge is finding the tools to help balance all these very real expectations with simple, adaptable software tools that help make our jobs easier instead of causing more work and distraction. Enter the promise of Resource Management by Smartsheet.

If you’re looking for a granular PM tool to manage your everyday workflows or highly-detailed task and dependency management (like MS Project), that isn’t where Resource Management by Smartsheet focuses.

However, if your biggest challenges are around being able to see, understand, and communicate your data across your portfolio of work, 10,000ft might be a winner for your team. It will help answer questions like:

  • When should you take on new work?
  • Do you have enough people or do you need to hire?
  • Are you maximizing project revenue and efficiency?
  • Will you have enough work to continue to grow?

Resource Management by Smartsheet is a software team out of Seattle that is reshaping how small to large organizations manage their projects and people. Resource Management by Smartsheet is a high-level resource management, project planning, and time tracking solution. As work ebbs and flows, you can stay up-to-date on the status of your portfolio of projects without being weighed down by unnecessary levels of detail or granularity.

Below I’ve outlined some other areas where Resource Management by Smartsheet stands out.

Top 4 Features Of Resource Management by Smartsheet

Project Planning: Track progress for individual projects or across your portfolio

There are two main areas for managing projects in Resource Management by Smartsheet. One is a project dashboard, where you can plan and see all the details around an individual project – so things like phases, assignments (for both your team and placeholders for staffing needs that haven’t yet been filled), project notes and deliverables, as well as the budget, burn, and forecasted over/under for time, fees, and expenses.

Here, you can check in on how your projects are doing and make changes as needed. You can also create project templates to save time, or set up tentative projects with placeholder assignments when you’re estimating work early on in your pipeline.

The other area where you can manage projects is from the schedule (there are two views – one of projects, and the other of people). It gives you a look across your entire portfolio or you can filter down to specific projects based on things like client, project type, or custom options like priority level, project owner, and project risk.

Tool review: 10,000ft Plans - projec schedule

Resource Management: See who’s working on what

Once your projects are set up, day-to-day project changes are often made on the People Schedule. This shows all your team members and placeholders down the left-hand column, with all their assignment details: project, phase, duration, and effort (% of their time or hours/day they’ll be spending) in the rows. When someone gets overbooked, that shows up in red. If they have availability, you can see that in light grey and add an assignment from the schedule.

Tip: there’s a collapsed view of this schedule too that shows a heat map of staffing.

From the schedule or project pages, you can filter or assign work based on things like role, discipline, skills, specific projects, or any custom options you set up.

Tool review: 10,000ft Plans - smart assign

Since projects plans are constantly shifting, Resource Management by Smartsheet helps you communicate these changes by notifying team members when things change so no one is wondering what they should be working on each day. The schedule is designed to be a live traffic board that you can adjust as changes or conflicts inevitably come up (great for projecting on a screen to use during meetings in real time). When things change, you have one place that will give everyone visibility into the current plan of record.

Time Tracking: Capture the actual time it takes to complete project work

If your team dreads using your time tracking tool, you’re probably going to have to chase them down to enter their hours, which is obviously a huge time waster. The first requirement of time tracking is to get good data so everyone can spend more time doing the actual work. The second requirement is to make sure that your team doesn’t work outside of the budget/scope of the project so you can appropriately bill or account for their time.

In Resource Management by Smartsheet, each team member has a personal dashboard to see what expectations you have for their time, so you’re not constantly needing to answer, “What should I be working on this week?” or “How much time do I have to work on Project X?” This view sets the stage so that they can be successful in tracking time and reduces friction in collecting good data.

Resource Management by Smartsheet does this via a time tracker (available on mobile too) that prompts team members with their projects and suggested hours based on what you’ve scheduled, so it can be as simple as logging in to confirm time, or you can layer in functionality like capturing actual hours and notes with each time entry.

Basically, it gives everyone equal parts transparency and accountability.

Often, time is tracked in a separate software so it’s disconnected from project planning. Resource Management by Smartsheet brings planning and time tracking together in one system. This model gives project managers real-time visibility into project burn so they can understand which future adjustments might be possible or required.

Reporting: Quickly pull reports about the most critical areas of your organization

If your leadership is always asking for metrics or more data-driven planning, Resource Management by Smartsheet also offers reporting on all your collected data. As people track their time, you can pull reports around things like the real-time budget burn on projects, forecasted utilization for the next week, month, quarter, etc., or how busy your team was last month (and what exactly they spent their time doing/not doing). Using this data, your team can better estimate future work based on the realities of how things went in the past.

The real differentiator here seems to be that all components get pulled together in one place, so you can just as easily run a final budget report across your projects as you can a report that shows you who hasn’t completed their time sheets, or what your hiring needs are based on work in the pipeline.

There are lots of filtering options, so you can get pretty specific in the data you want to see. Reports can then be shared with stakeholders without taking hours to compile and worrying about data accuracy.

Conclusion

Resource Management by Smartsheet is a bit unique in how they approach resourcing and project management because they’ve really focused on keeping the tool easy-to-use, while delivering the level of data and reporting that some of their larger competitors out there are doing with far greater complexity.

For many teams, this model can help project managers spend less time managing and tracking and more time doing. Resource Management by Smartsheet helps surface the most important details around people and projects while still giving you the big picture of your organization.

You can sign up for a free 14-day trial of Resource Management by Smartsheet here and their team can help walk through your group’s specific needs and process to see if it’s a good fit.

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Related Read: How Project Managers Can Master Resource Management Tasks

Check This Out: Smartsheet Competitors And Alternatives

By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedpm.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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1 Comment

  • Thanks for the great review, Ben! - The 10,000ft Team

    Reply

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