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Effective Time Tracking in Smartsheet

Evgeniya Ioffe - January 30th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In the bustling world of project management, mastering the art of time tracking is not just an efficiency booster—it's a strategic move that can profoundly impact the success of your projects. Smartsheet, with its robust suite of features, offers a revolutionary approach to capturing and analyzing how every minute is spent, turning time itself into a powerful ally in your quest for unmatched productivity. From setting up a system that mirrors your project's unique demands to unlocking actionable insights through data analysis, and exploring cutting-edge functionalities that fit seamlessly into your mobile lifestyle and intricate project ecosystems—this article will guide you through mastering time tracking in Smartsheet, step by informative step. Prepare to unlock real-time visibility, enhance control over your projects, and elevate your team's performance as we delve into the essence, customization, data mastery, and advanced tactics of time tracking with Smartsheet.

Understanding the Essentials of Time Tracking in Smartsheet

Effective time tracking in Smartsheet is not just about recording how long tasks take; it's about understanding the intricate web of project activities and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently. By harnessing Smartsheet's time tracking capabilities, managers and team members gain real-time visibility into the progression of tasks and can identify any potential bottlenecks early on. This level of insight is critical for keeping projects on schedule and within budget. Furthermore, the precise tracking of time against tasks enables a more accurate estimation process for future projects, enhancing overall project management strategies and operational efficiency.

Smartsheet's time tracking mechanism, particularly through its Duration, Start, and End Dates columns, allows for detailed and accurate logging of time spent on each project task. This functionality is pivotal for monitoring project timelines and ensuring that each task is progressing as planned. Regular updates to these time entries help in maintaining a dynamic and up-to-date overview of the project's status, which is essential for effective project monitoring and resource management. The ability to quickly glance at a task's duration and its start and end dates enables project managers to make informed decisions on the fly, adjusting task allocations and deadlines as necessary to keep the project moving forward smoothly.

Moreover, the introduction of the Resource Management tool within Smartsheet elevates the time tracking process by offering an intuitive platform for employees to report their hours, regardless of their location. This ensures that labor costs are accurately captured and attributed to the respective tasks and projects, facilitating better budget management. By connecting time tracking data with resource allocation, Smartsheet helps project leaders to optimize team workloads, avoid burnout, and tailor project schedules to match the team's capacity. This amalgamation of accurate time tracking and resource management in Smartsheet empowers teams to deliver projects with higher efficiency and quality, directly impacting the bottom line in a positive way.

Setting Up and Customizing Time Tracking in Smartsheet

To kick off time tracking in Smartsheet for your projects, understanding the setup process is crucial. Begin by navigating to the Settings, where you'll find the Time Tracking section. Here, you're presented with three distinct tracking options: the hours and minutes, half-days, and itemized hours and minutes. Each option caters to varying levels of detail and reporting specificity. The hours and minutes setting is ideal for projects requiring detailed time tracking, allowing team members to enter exact time spent on tasks. For a more high-level view, the half-days option simplifies entries, suitable for projects that don't demand minute-specific accounting. The itemized hours and minutes offer a balanced approach, providing detailed tracking while also supporting extensive reporting needs. Choosing the right setting hinges on the nature of your project and the granularity of time tracking your team prefers.

Customizing your time tracking settings further tailors Smartsheet to your project's particular demands. If precision is key, leverage the Day View feature found within the hours and minutes option; it includes a timer for more accurate time entries. For teams and projects where rapid, broad-strokes time reporting suffices, the half-days setting streamlines the process, making it faster for team members to report their time without getting bogged down in specifics. It's pivotal to weigh the advantages of each method against the nature of your project's requirements and the reporting detail necessary for your stakeholders. Engaging with your team to understand their preferences and the project's demands can guide you in setting up the most efficient time tracking method.

The final step in optimizing your Smartsheet time tracking setup involves regular monitoring and customization based on evolving project needs. As projects progress, the suitability of your chosen time tracking method should be reassessed. For instance, a project initially suited to the half-days method might require switching to the more detailed hours and minutes option as work becomes more complex. Additionally, integrating regular updates and adjustments into your time tracking practices ensures that your approach remains aligned with project goals and team capabilities. Encouraging team feedback on the time tracking process can uncover insights to further refine your setup, enhancing overall efficiency and productivity.

Analyzing and Acting on Time Tracking Data

Once time tracking is implemented in Smartsheet, analyzing the accumulated data becomes a pivotal aspect of project management. The ability to interpret this information is enhanced by tools such as real-time budget updates and predictive timesheets. These features offer insights into how every recorded hour affects the project’s financial health, allowing for immediate adjustments where necessary. By comparing planned versus actual hours, project managers gain a clear perspective on team performance and project progress, identifying any deviations from the original plan. This level of analysis not only illuminates current inefficiencies but also empowers managers to reallocate resources more effectively, ensuring that projects remain on track and within the allocated budget.

The role of reporting features in Smartsheet cannot be overstated in the context of acting on time tracking data. Customizable reports generate a comprehensive overview of time spent across tasks, facilitating a deeper understanding of work distribution and productivity patterns. These reports make apparent which tasks consume disproportionate amounts of time or resources, pinpointing areas where process improvements can yield significant efficiency gains. Moreover, the ability to forecast using predictive timesheets means project managers can anticipate project needs, adjust task allocations proactively, and avert potential overruns before they impact the project timeline or budget.

In employing these sophisticated tools within Smartsheet, project managers are equipped to make informed decisions based on concrete data rather than intuition. This analytics-driven approach allows for the identification of both strengths and weaknesses within the project workflow, guiding strategic adjustments that enhance overall project performance. The ultimate objective is not just to keep projects within budget but to optimize the utilization of every resource, improving productivity and project outcomes in the process. Through careful analysis and strategic action, Smartsheet enables a level of project management that is both proactive and adaptive, key qualities in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Advanced Time Tracking: Mobile Access, Approvals, and Integrations

In the dynamic landscape of project management, the capability for team members to log and update their time remotely is critical. Smartsheet’s mobile access feature addresses this need by enabling users to record time directly from their smartphones or tablets, no matter where they are. This flexibility ensures that time tracking remains continuous and updated, providing managers with real-time insights into the progress of tasks and projects. Consequently, this on-the-go update facility not only enhances operational efficiency but also empowers team members with the autonomy to manage and report their time effectively, fostering a sense of accountability and ownership over their tasks.

Equally significant is Smartsheet's implementation of approval workflows, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity and accuracy of time entries. Through customizable approval processes, managers can review and approve or reject time submissions, ensuring that only verified data is incorporated into the project’s timeline and budget. This measure prevents inaccuracies and misunderstandings that can lead to project delays or budget overruns. Moreover, it promotes transparency and trust within teams, as members are aware that their contributions are monitored and valued, reinforcing the importance of precision in time tracking.

Furthermore, Smartsheet's robust integration capabilities offer a seamless connection between time tracking data and other project management features within the platform. By linking time entries with tasks, resources, and budgets, Smartsheet facilitates comprehensive resource management that can significantly affect project outcomes. These integrations allow for a more holistic view of project health, enabling managers to make informed decisions about resource allocation, workload balancing, and deadline adjustments. The ability to integrate time tracking with other essential project management functions streamlines operations and enhances collaboration among project stakeholders, ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.


This article explores the effective time tracking capabilities of Smartsheet in project management. It highlights the importance of understanding the essentials of time tracking, setting up and customizing time tracking in Smartsheet, and analyzing and acting on time tracking data. The article also discusses advanced features such as mobile access, approvals, and integrations. The key takeaways include the ability of Smartsheet to provide real-time visibility, improve resource management and project efficiency, enable customization based on project needs, and offer advanced tools for data analysis and decision-making.