Blog>Team managment

Smartsheet Automated Workflows

Evgeniya Ioffe - January 10th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In the fast-paced world of business, efficiency is not just a buzzword—it's the backbone of success. Enter the scene of Smartsheet automated workflows, a breeding ground for productivity where the meticulous dance of triggers, conditions, and actions could revolutionize team management. Yet, as we chart this terrain of technological prowess, a captivating duality emerges: boundless potential shadowed by intricate challenges. Join us as we dissect and reconstruct these digital marvels, customizing them to the heartbeat of diverse enterprises. Prepare to elevate your game as we navigate the delicate balance of automation power and precision control, ensuring your team not only runs like a well-oiled machine but adapts with the agility to outpace tomorrow's uncertainties. Unraveling the intricacies begins now—where curiosity meets execution excellence.

Unraveling the Intricacies of Smartsheet Automated Workflows

In the realm of team management and leadership, the implementation of Smartsheet automated workflows is a double-edged sword, boasting significant enhancements to operational efficiency while also harboring complexities that require careful navigation. The allure of automated workflows lies in their capacity to transform traditional manual processes into streamlined, systematized sequences of events. By leveraging Smartsheet's capabilities to alert teams when rows are added or modified, comments are updated, attachments are handled, or sheets are shared, businesses can substantially decrease the likelihood of human error and time spent on menial tasks. This process not only accelerates the pace at which projects move but also strengthens accountability and fosters a dynamic environment where team members can pivot their focus to more strategic initiatives.

However, the intricacies of setting up these workflows demand a meticulous approach. The selection of an appropriate Trigger—the set motion for automation—is pivotal, and missteps here can lead to miscommunications or overlooked tasks. While automated alerts propel the immediacy with which team members can respond to changes, they also necessitate a tailored configuration to ensure relevance and avoid the fatigue of over-notification. Similarly, while automating approvals and updates promises a robust mechanism for project management, it introduces the challenge of defining clear and specific criteria that can reliably control the progression of tasks without compromising flexibility. Teams must maintain a careful balance between the boon of automation and the safeguarding of manual oversight to account for nuances and exceptions that automated systems might overlook.

Moreover, the thought-provoking question that leaders need to consider is how they can maintain the human touch within an increasingly automated workflow system. While Smartsheet provides an elegant solution for setting up weekly, daily, or specific time-based reminders and alerts, it inadvertently raises the issue of dependence on automation. Could an over-reliance on automation lead to atrophy in problem-solving skills and initiative among team members? Pros and cons are deeply intertwined in this sophisticated tool; the judgment to make Smartsheet workflows a boon rather than a bane for an organization hinges on vigilance in planning, ongoing evaluation of workflow effectiveness, and an openness to adapt and tweak the system as the team and projects evolve.

To begin constructing your automated workflow in Smartsheet, pinpoint the trigger—the event that sets the process in motion. This could be the addition of a new row, a status change within a column, or a approaching due date. Each trigger you set must be specific to the desired start condition for your workflow to ensure accuracy and relevance. As you define your trigger, consider the cascading effects on the project. Prioritize events that significantly impact the progression of work and require immediate attention or action.

Next, establish the conditions that refine when and how the automation should occur. These conditions act as filters that determine the workflow's execution path. They assess criteria such as who made the change, what type of data was entered, or if a particular threshold has been breached. For example, conditions can be set so that only project managers receive a notification for completed tasks, while team members get alerts for upcoming deadlines. Custom conditions allow for a granular level of control, molding the Smartsheet’s automated workflow to fit the needs of different team dynamics and project requirements.

Lastly, outline the actions that the workflow will initiate once the trigger event occurs and the specified conditions are met. Options include sending alerts, requesting updates or approvals, or even manipulating data within the sheet like clearing or altering cell values. Actions can be tailored to align with team goals. Whether it’s notifying stakeholders of critical updates through integration with apps like Slack, or prompting a review process once a milestone is reached, each action should enhance the team's ability to respond quickly and effectively. Always ensure the action aligns with the workflow's objective, minimizing redundancy and maximizing the clarity of each automated step.

Mastering the Art of Automation Customization

Customizing Smartsheet automated workflows requires an understanding of the subtle touches that can harmonize technology with human input, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, personalizing reminders within Smartsheet can have a significant impact on productivity. By setting recurrent or one-time alerts, team leaders ensure that pivotal tasks or deadlines are not overlooked. The differentiation lies in adjusting these notifications to suit the rhythm of the work environment; critical reminders could be scheduled ahead of significant milestones, with less urgent prompts sprinkled across the timeline to maintain steady progress.

Requesting approvals through automated workflows exemplifies the need for precision in automation. For every request generated, identifying the right recipient is crucial—this could be a direct supervisor or a project manager whose sign-off is vital for the subsequent phase of a project. By defining these approvers within automation rules, teams can avoid bottlenecks and ensure that each task progresses smoothly. Customizing the nature of approval requests, whether they're for document sign-offs or milestone validations, allows team leaders to align the process closely with operational mandates, ensuring compliance as well as swift project advancement.

Finally, tailoring the recipient list for notifications guarantees that only relevant stakeholders are alerted, thus avoiding unnecessary communication overload. By carefully designating who should be notified—and under which circumstances—leaders can foster a focused and informed team environment. Criteria-based notifications ensure that team members are apprised of updates pertinent to their roles, which is essential to maintaining team engagement. Moreover, by customizing alerts to match the specific needs and dynamics of the team, leaders can reinforce accountability and ensure that each member is empowered with the information necessary to execute their responsibilities.

Ensuring Effective Workflow Operations and Perimeter Control

In the dynamic landscape of Smartsheet workflows, effective management is key to maintaining operational fluency. Permissions play a crucial role, acting as the gatekeepers that control who can trigger actions and oversee their outcomes. By establishing a clear hierarchy of permissions, you can delineate the extent to which individuals can interact with the workflow—ensuring only authorized personnel can execute manual overrides when necessary. This cautious approach to permission settings not only reinforces workflow integrity but also aligns with internal security protocols, helping to maintain a reliable operational perimeter around your company's automated processes.

Monitoring workflow performance is integral to ensuring their perpetual effectiveness. Regular assessments can help detect any sluggishness or bottlenecks that may signal a need for fine-tuning. Such vigilance is instrumental in preempting system overloads and maintaining seamless operations, particularly with complex automation where dependencies and interactions can be intricate. Performance review metrics and historical data trends become valuable assets, providing insights for continuous improvement. By consistently evaluating the workflow's impact on operations, organizations can adapt faster to changing environments and maintain a competitive edge.

Upholding a degree of manual oversight amidst a suite of automated processes is sage. Despite the precision of Smartsheet's automated workflows, human insight is irreplaceable when dealing with exceptions that fall outside algorithmic logic. Interventions might be necessary to align the outcome with strategic objectives, reflecting the critical balance between technology and human judgment. This delicate equilibrium ensures that, while automated workflows propel efficiency forward, they do so with the necessary discernment to harness their full potential within the organization's operational framework.


The article discusses the benefits and challenges of implementing Smartsheet automated workflows in team management and leadership. It emphasizes the need for careful customization and navigation of these workflows to ensure efficiency and productivity. Key takeaways include the importance of selecting appropriate triggers, setting specific conditions, and outlining relevant actions. The article also highlights the need to maintain a balance between automation and manual oversight, and the significance of customization, effective management, and ongoing evaluation for successful workflow operations.