This review is about the online Smart Spreadsheets software package called “Smart Sheets”. You can access the program free for the first 30 days, and continue to use the service by taking up one of their subscription plans.
One of the reasons I found this site is that it came up in a Google search for how to do a mail merge using Google docs. But it seems the software is much more capable than that simple task.
Accessing the software
Using a web browser, navigate to www.smartsheets.com Login to the site using your Google profile (gmail address) or Facebook, or you can sign up for an account
The dashhoard of the site is fairly easy to navigate, with easily labelled buttons to create a new sheet, and a listing of sheets you have previously made or may be shared with you (if you are using a business account).
I have already created a test sheet when first playing with the software, all sheets that are made on this account will be shown in the section to the right of the menu.
Creating a new sheet
Smart Sheets offer a wide range of options when you click on the CREATE NEW button, including options for a basic spreadsheet, task list, project sheet, Kanban sheet, plus there is also the option to view additional templates.
Selecting the Basic Spreadsheet option, you are required to give your sheet a name, this document will then appear in the documents screen. Double click the document to enter the editor.
A nice feature is that it has helps and tips available as you start.
So many options!
One thing you will notice, when compared to other spreadsheet programs, the smart sheets do not have header rows A, B, C and so on. You can rename these column headers by right clicking on them and choosing RENAME, or you can double click on the header for that column and use the rename dialog box that pops up.
There are also additional options down the left hand side, which includes the basic formatting options of currency, date, percentage as well as bold, italic and font size, colour & type face.
Additional options include sharing, printing and also the ability to change views as a Gantt chart – something that may be useful for project management.
Adding data to the sheet
Adding data to the sheet is simply the matter of selecting cell and typing in the date, you can also copy and paste. In the image below, I’ve created a spreadsheet that could be used in a mail merge for an activity at one of the computer skills workshops.
The headings have been renamed to give us the codes for the mail merge options, and additional corresponding data has been added as appropriate.
Completing the Mail Merge with Google Docs
Once you have completed the spreadsheet with the required information, open up Google Drive in another tab on your web browser and log in to your Gmail account. Select NEW document. Choose ADDONs and select Mail Merge. Click the START option.
This process is similar to other wizards.
1. Select the sheet data
Select the spreadsheet with the data you want to include. Click the SELECT A SHEET text link on the wizard panel on the left hand side of the screen.
This will open up the list of sheets on your SmartSheet account that you have created or have been shared with you. Select the appropriate sheet.
Now select the rows you wish to include. In the example, we have four rows. Clicking the box in the top left will select all rows in the spreadsheet, or you can select individual rows.
Click the blue SAVE SELECTION button.
2. Insert the Merge Fields
Click the drop down arrow to display the form fields, you will notice that it has chosen the headers that were renamed as the form fields.
Type your letter, and click on the appropriate form field to add it to the appropriate location. Remember to use correct grammar such as adding spaces, commas and full stops.
3. Run Mail Merge
Once you are satisfied with your letter, and that all the form fields are in their correct location, and you have checked the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Click the drop down arrow shown for step three and choose the available options. When you are satisfied with your printing or sharing options, click the RUN MAIL MERGE BUTTON.
Depending on your options chosen, the program will either create individual documents and stroe them in your google drive, or combine all into one document.
For ease for this demonstration, I decided to combine all documents into a PDF.
For Project Management
I have only had a very quick look at the Gantt chart options for Project Management within the program and first impressions were impressive. I do like the easy click interface to select a date for the start of the program, and that it automatically gives you the end date. I also like how it automatically places the data into the appropriate chart.
While in Grid View, you can add tasks to the project, mark them as complete, in progress or not yet started, add team members.
The card view allows you to see at a glance the status of the individual tasks in the project as well as the responsible team managers
Smart Sheets is a well developed program that allows you to create custom spreadsheets that go beyond what is available with Google Sheets. I personaly like the option that it includes Gantt charts for project management.
It is however not a free program, you do get 30 days to test it out. If you wish to continue using the program, you must pay for a monthly subscription.
The cheapest option is the Individual User which is an annual fee of $145 which works out to $14 for the month, or you can select to pay monthly and pay $19. Which does work out a little dearer but perhaps may be easier to afford.
Is it worth it? That depends on you, your business and the way you work. How often do you use Mail Merge – newsletter once a month? Or if you are a project manager, then the project management part of the program may appeal to you. If you have employees, or do quotes then this may be an option to keep your business under control.
Please check out their website at www.smartsheet.com for helpful tips, and sign up for a free trial. Or check out their YouTube channel for tutorials https://www.youtube.com/user/SmartSheet
This review is unsolicited and I do not get paid for review of programs. If you have a program you would like me to review, comment or send me an email.