I’ve been asked often if I know of a great “Cloud” (online) project management software to help with things like, scheduling, job staging, reminders, billing, and budgeting. Basecamp, from 37 Signals has a lot of strengths for many project management features, but Smartsheet (affiliate link) hits the nail on the head for being one of the best cloud-based programs that does it all. If you own a remodeling company, run a painting or similar trade business, you need to check out and consider using Smartsheet. In a nutshell, Smartsheet basically takes two key programs many of you use (or have used): Microsoft Project and Excel and created a “Smartsheet” that links to things like Google Calendar, Google Docs (now Drive), Google Apps Email and more. The bottom line, if you know how to use the basic Excel features, you can use Smartsheet with little training. In this short post, I will not explain all the key features you can do with Smartsheet as it is very powerful. For that, just check out their website and watch their videos. I’ll focus on how contractors are using it currently.
How Contractors are using Smartsheet
The contractors I know who are using Smartsheet right now do three things: 1. Manage a marketing budget and calendar, 2. Have a communication and job schedule (painting) and 3) A full fledged managing of all aspects of a remodeling project (billing, check numbers, reminders for when things need to be done, who is responsible, next steps, when a bill is received, receipts attached to a task and much more). Smartsheet acts like a spreadsheet in Excel. The benefit is if you want to create a schedule for your crew leaders or project managers, you can type in the times of a job (Sept 1 through Nov 5th) and have it automatically upload to Google Calendar. You can even make changes within Google Calendar and/or from an iPad. You can invite employees and even customers to view your Smartsheet project as well and make comments on task and events.
Here are a few screenshots of a marketing budget and a simple employee schedule.
The marketing schedule and budget above shows only a few rows of information. It also can help with market-tracking by lead source (won, lost and pending). So technically, most of your marketing reports can be viewed from one spreadsheet. This also links up nicely with Google calendar so we can see what is going on when we are not logged into Smartsheet.
This sample scheduling spreadsheet here also has a built in calendar view and/or can be synced with Google. If I wanted to attach a Work Order form, I can do that from within Smartsheet and send an email to the Foreman alerting him of his next job and paperwork.
Pricing of Smartsheet
The cost of Smartsheet is pretty reasonable for what you get. I signed up for their annual plan to save about 10%. There are different levels of cost. My current plan runs a little less than $15 a month for 10 Smartsheets. They consider a “Smartsheet” to be a project. So if you’ve got 15 remodeling projects going on at one time, you’d need TEAM version, which is around $50 a month. If you are only using it for scheduling and a marketing budget, you’d get by with the basic version for less than $16 a month. I don’t think you can beat the price for the features you get. I just mentioned a few key features in this article. There is a plethora of things you can do when you have the time to dig deeper into this power Smartsheet!