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Smartsheet's Document Generation Capabilities

Evgeniya Ioffe - February 12th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In an age where the velocity of business operations demands efficiency and precision, Smartsheet emerges as a dynamic ally, particularly with its transformative document automation capabilities. This dive into Smartsheet's Document Generation suite opens up a world where data-driven document creation is not just possible, but powerfully streamlined. From mastering the foundational elements of the Document Builder to implementing advanced strategies that elevate your document workflows, this guide promises a comprehensive exploration. We'll navigate through practical steps, tackle common pitfalls, and ultimately, unlock strategies that maximize impact, ensuring your journey through document automation is both enlightening and actionable. Welcome to the threshold of mastering document automation with Smartsheet; a journey that begins with understanding and leads to mastery.

Unlocking the Power of Data-Driven Document Generation

Smartsheet's Document Builder empowers businesses by automating the tedious process of document creation, which traditionally requires significant manual input and time. By harnessing the capabilities of this feature, organizations can generate customized documents directly from the data stored in their sheets. This function not only ensures the accuracy of the information by eliminating human errors but also significantly streamlines document-related operations. Whether it's generating contracts, reports, invoices, or any document that requires precise data, the Document Builder seamlessly integrates this information into a fillable PDF format, making the process efficient and reliable.

This cutting-edge feature is particularly beneficial for licensed users, including owners, admins, and editors, who can attach these automatically generated documents to specific rows within a sheet. This level of integration allows for an organized and systematic approach to document management, ensuring that the latest data is always at the forefront of all generated documents. Moreover, this functionality is extended to viewers as well, who have the capability to generate and download documents, thereby promoting a collaborative and inclusive workspace.

The introduction of the Document Builder in Smartsheet represents a significant leap towards data-driven document generation, where the focus is on leveraging existing data to create accurate and professional documents. By preparing a sheet, creating a fillable PDF, and mapping rows in your sheet to your fillable PDF, businesses can establish a workflow that not only saves time but also maintains the integrity of the data being presented. This approach not only adds value to an organization's document-generative tasks but also enhances operational efficiency, making it an indispensable tool in the realm of business document management.

Navigating through Smartsheet's Document Builder begins with the essential task of preparing your sheet. This means organizing your data in a way that each column on your sheet corresponds to the fields you wish to populate in your fillable PDF. It involves a clear understanding of the data structure and ensuring that all necessary information is appropriately captured and categorized. This foundational step is crucial as it directly impacts the ease of mapping and the accuracy of document generation. Once your sheet is ready, the creation of a fillable PDF template is next. This template should be designed with thoughtfulness to include all vital fields required in the final document, such as names, dates, addresses, or specific numerical data.

The core of Smartsheet's Document Builder lies in mapping sheet columns to the corresponding fields in your fillable PDF. By simply dragging and dropping each column title to its matching field in the PDF, you begin to bridge the gap between raw data and a structured document. This mapping process only needs to be set up once, after which it can be used repeatedly to generate documents whenever new data is added to your sheet. For more static fields that remain constant across documents, you can type directly into the fillable PDF fields during the mapping process. This feature ensures consistency in parts of the document that do not change, providing a seamless integration of variable and static data.

Finally, the organization and identification of documents generated from Smartsheet require careful consideration. Default settings will name your documents based on the PDF's original filename, which could become problematic when dealing with a high volume of documents. To tackle this challenge, leveraging Smartsheet's capability to define custom file names through formulas becomes indispensable. By creating meaningful, distinctive filenames that perhaps include date, project name, or any other relevant identifier, you significantly enhance the manageability and accessibility of your generated documents. This customization not only facilitates better organization but also streamlines the process of locating specific documents when needed, thereby saving time and reducing potential frustration.

Elevating Efficiency with Advanced Document Generation Strategies

Moving beyond basic functionalities, integrating forms for data capture significantly streamlines the process of preparing your documents for generation. By ensuring that data entered into Smartsheet is consistently formatted and correctly captured every time, businesses can eliminate the common pitfalls of manual data entry, such as inaccuracies or incomplete information. This not only saves time but also enhances the reliability of the generated documents, making this approach a cornerstone for businesses looking to improve operational efficiency through automation.

Customizing the email routing process with DocuSign is another advanced strategy that considerably elevates the efficiency of document management workflows. By tailoring the subject and message fields of these emails, companies can facilitate easier recognition and faster response times from recipients. This customization is particularly useful in contexts where timely document turnaround is critical, such as contract approvals or vendor agreements. The ability to flag specific rows for document creation further refines this process, enabling teams to filter and process only those data sets that are ready, thereby optimizing the workflow and minimizing the margin for error.

Setting up conditions for document creation is a pivotal strategy that underscores the importance of customization in document generation workflows. By defining specific triggers and conditions, businesses can automate the creation of documents at precisely the right moment, ensuring that every generated document is both timely and relevant. This level of customization not only ensures that documents are created and delivered at peak efficiency but also allows businesses to tailor their document generation processes to fit unique operational needs and scenarios, thereby maximizing the impact on overall operational efficiency.

Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing Impact

Document automation in Smartsheet, while transformative, does surface certain teething troubles, notably when integrating with tools like DocuSign. One such impediment is the constraint on fields and data types that can be auto-filled, mandating users to meticulously map templates to ensure accuracy and efficiency. A cornerstone solution involves a thorough review and setup where every template in DocuSign is carefully aligned with the corresponding columns in Smartsheet. This meticulous initial effort lays a foundation for seamless data transfer, minimizing the risk of inaccuracies and maximizing workflow efficiency. This attention to detail in the setup phase is indispensable for circumventing the pitfalls of complex document automation workflows.

Moreover, as businesses evolve, document automation systems must do likewise, pushing the envelope beyond mere efficiency. The challenge lies not just in overcoming operational hurdles but in leveraging Smartsheet's extensive capabilities to solve intricate business dilemmas. It prompts users to ask critical questions: How can document automation be strategically applied to streamline business processes further? Are there innovative ways to utilize Smartsheet's functionality to address unique business challenges? Reflecting on such questions can inspire creative solutions that transcend traditional document management, encouraging a culture of continual improvement and strategic innovation.

Embracing Smartsheet's document generation capabilities involves more than navigating technical complexities; it's about fully harnessing the tool's potential to catalyze business growth. Users are encouraged to constantly explore new functionalities, integrate feedback loops, and adapt workflows to meet evolving business demands. This proactive adaptation not only mitigates current challenges but positions organizations to swiftly navigate future obstacles, thereby maximizing the impact of their document management strategies. By iteratively refining processes and embracing the full spectrum of Smartsheet's offerings, businesses can unlock unparalleled efficiency and drive sustained operational excellence.


In this article, we explore the transformative document automation capabilities of Smartsheet's Document Generation suite. By harnessing the power of data-driven document creation, organizations can streamline their document workflows, ensure accuracy, and enhance operational efficiency. Key takeaways include leveraging Smartsheet's Document Builder to generate customized documents directly from stored data, navigating through the mapping process to bridge the gap between raw data and structured documents, and implementing advanced strategies such as forms for data capture and customized email routing to elevate efficiency. Overcoming challenges and maximizing impact involves thorough setup and ongoing exploration of Smartsheet's functionality to address unique business challenges and drive sustained operational excellence.