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Smartsheet Sights can include data summaries, trends and totals in compact pages

Many companies are tracking every step of a project, from early development through delivering the final product and even past that through further iterations and troubleshooting.

But the mere existence of that data doesn’t mean it’s easy to tell what’s going on with a particular project. With Sights, a new feature rolling out today, Smartsheet is trying to solve that problem by harnessing all that data into easily consumable packages that give visibility into projects.

Smartsheet president and CEO Mark Mader
Smartsheet president and CEO Mark Mader

Smartsheet provides companies a way to manage projects in a customizable, spreadsheet-like environment, letting them track completion status of various tasks, sales numbers or project roles. Previously, all that data was only helpful to people on the teams that created the particular Smartsheet.

The new Sights feature, announced today, lets users share the data with others in a way that’s easy to understand. Sights use widgets that compress huge amounts of data to show off trends and summaries. The goal isn’t to give the everyday employee a better picture of their project, but to give upper management, outside investors or other teams visibility into an ongoing project.

Smartsheet president and CEO Mark Mader explained that the feature makes Smartsheet “the mechanism to not only track, share, update and manage, but also present.”

It’s the latest move by the Bellevue, Wash.-based company to differentiate itself in the highly competitive market for online project management and collaboration tools. The company, founded in 2006, has topped 80 percent revenue growth for five straight years, co-founder Brent Frei said last year in a public talk about the company.

With the new Sights feature, users can show off trends, totals and status markers for various sets of data with widgets, many created automatically with data already generated for a Smartsheet. Each widget is customizable, so users can get across the right message even if the data isn’t showing it.

“We’re producing all of this work and all of these messages, and when you invite someone to participate in something, they need to understand the context,” Mader said. “And if you were to throw someone in front of a spreadsheet with a thousand rows on it, or throw them into a messaging thread which is 18 responses deep, it’s really hard to get your bearings.”

The Sights feature is launching with just a handful of widgets to cut down on the complexity. But Sights aren’t just about an overview; since widgets are easily tied to the Smartsheet data behind them, getting to that data from a Sight is meant to be easy, too. So if a boss wants more details on why sales are stalling in Europe, he or she can drill down quickly.

Users can link to outside sources like Word documents or web pages for more context. However, users can also limit data visibility for sharing Sights outside the company, to ensure confidentiality of internal data.

Sights are a premium feature for Smartsheet users. Pricing is based on the number of users and the type of Smartsheet subscription. However, users can share Sights with anyone, including those who don’t have a Smartsheet subscription.

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