Smartsheet for Rollout Development, Part 3

This series covers how architecture professionals managing the rollout of multiple locations at a time for chain concepts can manage that process through Smartsheet, the web-based tool based on internet-connected spreadsheets.


In Part 1 I introduced the concept of using Smartsheet for tracking the development of multiple projects simultaneously for a chain concept doing rollout development. We continued with Part 2, where I explained how my build works to support this effort and how it’s all interconnected to form a database using Smartsheet’s Control Center add-on.

For Part 3, I’ll wrap up my thoughts on this system by covering how the building of this database works with Smartsheet and their staff and I’ll touch upon what else architects can use Smartsheet for in their work.

How the Build Works

When a Smartsheet user/organization decides to add on the Control Center package to their service, Smartsheet will assign that organization a Customer Success Manager as a resource to help guide that organization though maintenance and changes to their Smartsheet database. Smartsheet also brings staff members who specialize in standing up new Control Center installations on board to help the organization get their new Control Center up and running. I’ve found these specialists to be a great resource as they’re quite skilled at converting a vision for a system into reality and they possess deep knowledge of all of Smartsheet’s features and formulas.

It’s important for the organization to identify a point person to interact with Smartsheet and organize the goals for Smartsheet into a clear vision that can be communicated to Smartsheet’s specialists. This person will need to be on-call in the early days of the build to react to things the specialists are setting up and to even help modify some of that work to help provide direction to Smartsheet for the Control Center configuration.

Updates & Changes

Change is inevitable with this kind of system and it’s pretty easy to manage with a setup based around the Control Center add-on. Depending on the desired changes or updates, you may just need to go into a template sheet and fix something or adjust a setting in your Control Center Blueprint (any updated sheets also need a quick refresh in the Blueprint too). I’ve also added on new sheet templates and new sheets to aggregate data for Dashboards to existing Control Center Blueprints and that’s not difficult either. I’ve found the Blueprint to be pretty flexible and reliable in managing change over time.

This is a good spot to point out a couple of Smartsheet’s admin features that are relevant to updates and changes. The Groups feature I covered in my previous articles is a good way to set up an admin Group. That admin Group should be the only Group with write access to the folder containing your Control Center sheet templates. Another part of Control Center is that it has its own super complex sheet (don’t worry, you’ll never need to do anything with it) that should be in this same restricted admin folder. Your aggregator sheets also go here. It’s a good idea to keep a subfolder of old drafts or abandoned sheets in this same spot.

What Else Can Architects Do with Smartsheet?

I’ve mentioned that Design Criteria is a part of the Development Hub I created in Smartsheet, and that’s a topic I’ll be writing about in more detail soon. But know that Smartsheet is an outstanding tool for architects to organize and disseminate a chain concept’s Design Criteria, or even their own firm’s standards.

I’ve recently begun experimenting with taking data roundtrip between Smartsheet and my BIM authoring tool, ARCHICAD. I’ve found a process for this that I’ll write about soon. This is an area of Smartsheet that has big potential for architects though — imagine coordinating data in the BIM with a vendor online via Smartsheet, and using Smartsheet’s push notifications for calls to action in managing updates between the data in the sheet and the data in the BIM — cool!

Final Thoughts

I ❤️ Smartsheet! This tool has huge potential as architects enter the age of information-driven design. I think Smartsheet’s blank canvas approach is something that architects in particular will embrace. Everything I’ve covered in this series could be replicated for firms wanting more control over the management of all of their work or for organizing office standards. Smartsheet’s great licensing model means that it’s also a value-added service that architects can provide their clients, like giving them a Dashboard to check in on their project’s progress. I hope you feel inspired to give Smartsheet a try!

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