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Smartsheet, the project management tool cloaked as a spreadseet, adds visualization

Smartsheet, the project management tool cloaked as a spreadseet, adds visualization

Smartsheet has developed a visualization tool for its online project management app

Smartsheet has developed a visualization tool for its online project management app

Smartsheet, whose namesake online project management app uses a spreadsheet interface, has developed a visualization tool to let its customers graph and map workgroups in their organizations for better planning and supervision.

The new Account Map tool does an enterprise-wide analysis of data collected in a company's Smartsheet domain and generates a visual representation of the people working on the different projects, including employees, partners, contractors, vendors and customers.

"It gives you a quick, visual way of seeing the landscape of who is doing what across the enterprise," said Brent Frei [cq], chairman and co-founder of Smartsheet.

The map is interactive, letting supervisors click on team clusters and individual users to drill down on project and resource details, and giving top executives a view of their company's ongoing projects, processes, tasks and programs.

Account Map incorporates all the security and access restrictions specified in the Smartsheet files it taps, so users can only call up map data that they have rights to view, he said. The feature will be offered to SmartSheet's Enterprise subscribers for an additional fee, according to Frei.

Of course, the value of the map generated will depend on the quality of the underlying data and the extent to which Smartsheet is used in a company. The best case scenario would require that Smartsheet be a company's only project management application, used to plan and track all projects across the board.

Smartsheet, founded in 2006, developed its project management software with a spreadsheet front end, after its founders noticed businesses' widespread use of Excel and other such applications for managing and planning work.

Smartsheet competes against project management products, not against spreadsheets used for conventional purposes. According to Frei, Google rolled out Smartsheet to its entire staff, which uses it alongside Google Sheets.

Other companies within its roster of 50,000 paying customers are McGraw-Hill Education, Office Depot, Harvard University, NASA, the Library of Congress, Bayer, Netflix, Cisco, Toshiba, Volvo, Electrolux, Sony Music, Oracle and Hilton.

The privately-held company raised $35 million [m] in May in a funding round led by Palo Alto-based Sutter Hill Ventures, bringing its funding total to $70 million.

Smartsheet has four subscription tiers. The Basic tier costs US$14 per month, lets one person create up to 10 spreadsheets, allows unlimited collaborators, who can view and edit the documents, and includes 3GB of file storage. The Advanced tier, at $25 per month, is also for one creator with unlimited collaborators, but increases the number of spreadsheets to 50 and the file storage to 15GB.

The Team tier starts at $39 per month for a minimum of three creators -- additional creator seats cost $9 per month -- and adds management features. The top, Enterprise tier offers the most features and its price and conditions are negotiated individually by customers.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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