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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Rustemeyer

A Solution Admin’s Practical Guide to Smartsheet - Part 7 | Scaling a Smartsheet Solution

Updated: Jan 23


Cranes operating together to build the future

We started this series by defining the difference between a Smartsheet System Admin and a Solution Admin, key domains Solution Admins must master to achieve Operational Excellence, challenges they face in those domains, and practical solutions that can be implemented to overcome those obstacles.


If you want to catch up, you can read Part 1 or Part 2.


Part 7: Scaling a Smartsheet Solution

Challenge

As your organization grows, scaling your Smartsheet solution can pose scalability challenges.

Solution

Plan for scalability in your Smartsheet solution from the outset, regularly optimize workflows with automation, and consider advanced functionalities as your organization expands, carefully assessing technical constraints for the highest value outcomes on your roadmap.


As an organization undergoes changes or growth, and Solution Admins enhance their skill set in Smartsheet capabilities, new opportunities arise to completely transform organizations with Smartsheet. These opportunities may include extending current capabilities to new users or teams, expanding the data set in an existing solution, or building new solutions entirely. However, scaling a solution comes with its own set of challenges, and Solution Admins need to take into account various factors such as new user segments, product updates, and product limitations to ensure that the vision for a new solution is valuable and scalable for the long term.


Plan for scalability and change from the outset. Design solutions that can adapt to the evolving needs of your organization. Regularly assess and optimize workflows, leverage automation features, and consider advanced Smartsheet functionalities as your organization expands. Smartsheet is a platform for collaborative work management. Growth and evolution are often expected as other teams may benefit from participating in the collaboration or the overall organization may benefit from extending the solution to new use cases or capabilities. When this is the case, thoughtful consideration of technical constraints and untapped Smartsheet technical capabilities should be considered to drive toward the highest value outcomes on your Smartsheet solution roadmap. 


Now that we have identified the roadblocks that will inevitably become a reality, let's look at some practical solutions that can be implemented to improve how Solution Admins scale a Smartsheet solution.



 


5-Step Action Plan for Scaling Your Smartsheet Solution, Expanded:


Step 1: Assess and Expand Collaboration:


  • Identify New Collaborators: Think beyond the existing user community. Look across departments and teams that might benefit from being included in your existing Smartsheet solution. Do their workflows connect in any way? Could sharing data and collaborating on processes streamline both sides' work? For example, the marketing team might benefit from real-time sales data in their campaign reporting dashboards, while the sales team could track the impact of their efforts on marketing metrics directly within Smartsheet.

  • Evaluate Upstream and Downstream Integration: Can you automate the flow of data between your Smartsheet solution and other systems? Are users manually entering the same information in multiple places? Explore integration options with CRM, Accounting, and DevOps Tools using Data Shuttle, Bridge, custom-API, or third party connectors to unlock even more automation, use cases, and eliminate redundant data entry to streamline workflows across different platforms.

Step 2: Optimize Workflows with Automation:


  • Review User Flows: Map out the steps users take to complete common tasks within your Smartsheet solution. Look for repetitive or manual processes that could be automated. For instance, could automatically assigning tasks based on team rosters or triggers like due dates save your team time and effort? Can pre-populated templates with formulas speed up data entry and ensure consistency?

  • Leverage Automation Features: Take advantage of the built-in automation features in Smartsheet. Use conditional formatting to highlight important information or trigger alerts and update requests based on specific criteria. Automate repetitive tasks like sending notifications, updating fields, or closing completed tasks with workflows.

  • Explore Advanced Functionalities: As your solution scales and your needs become more complex, consider advanced applications like Control Center to standardize project and portfolio management practices or Dynamic View and WorkApps to unlock even further functionality for collaborating on data sets more securely and effectively with external collaborators.

Step 3: Stay Informed and Adapt to Change:


  • Monitor Product Updates: Don't be left behind the curve! Actively monitor Smartsheet release notes and the Product Insights in the content center. Attend webinars and participate in user forums to stay ahead of the latest features and updates that could benefit your scaling solution. New functionalities might provide better ways to handle specific tasks or address challenges you're facing.

  • Encourage users to join Early Adopter and Beta Programs: Encourage your users to be early adopters! Let them sign up for early access previews and beta programs (subject to your Smartsheet plan) for access and testing of new features before they are broadly available. Their feedback can shape the future of the platform and help you identify potential solutions before they're widely available.

  • Be Mindful of Product Limitations: Know what Smartsheet can and cannot do. While it's a powerful platform, there are inherent limitations. If your scaling needs require functionalities beyond the scope of Smartsheet, be prepared to seek alternative solutions or workarounds. Don't try to force a square peg into a round hole.

  • Common limitations can be discovered in the Smartsheet Help Center

Step 4: Build a Scalable Architecture:


  • Design for Adaptability: Don't get locked into a rigid structure. Build your Smartsheet solution with flexibility and modularity in mind. Design components that can be easily extended or modified to accommodate future growth and changing needs. Think of it as building blocks that can be rearranged and expanded as your requirements evolve.

  • Optimize Data Management: As your user base grows, data management becomes even more critical. Implement data governance rules to ensure consistent data quality and accessibility. Partner with your System Admin to review Data Access Governance features to control user access and permissions, preventing unauthorized data modifications or breaches.

  • Monitor Performance and Usage: Keep a close eye on your Smartsheet solution's performance. Analyze metrics like data loading times, sheet responsiveness, and user activity. Identify potential bottlenecks before they become major issues and adjust your solution to maintain optimal performance as your usage scales.

Step 5: Continuously Monitor and Refine:


  • Proactively Gather Feedback and Iterate: The job doesn't end once you deploy your scaled solution. Actively solicit feedback from your users. What's working well? What could be improved? Use their insights to identify areas for optimization and iterate on your solution to keep it efficient and user-friendly as your organization grows.

  • Automate Maintenance Tasks: Don't waste valuable time on repetitive tasks. Utilize scheduled workflows or dedicated resources to automate routine maintenance tasks like backing up data, cleaning up unused sheets, or managing user permissions. This frees up your time to focus on strategic initiatives and further enhancements.

  • Refine Your Expansion Strategy: As you encounter scaling challenges, don't be afraid to adapt your approach. Analyze what's working and what's not, and be prepared to adjust your roadmap based on your experiences. Remember, scalability is an ongoing process, so continuous monitoring, learning, and adaptation are key to maintaining a future-proof solution that supports your organization's growth and empowers your users to achieve their goals.


By following these steps and incorporating the top-of-mind recommendations, you can effectively scale your Smartsheet solution to accommodate expanding needs and drive continued success for your organization. Remember, scalability is an ongoing process, so continuous monitoring, learning, and adaptation are key to maintaining a flexible and future-proof platform that empowers your users and accelerates your organization's growth.

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