Quick Guide: Solutions for Collaborating with Sensitive Data


Quick Guide: Solutions for Collaborating with Sensitive Data

To make sure your project develops with the right kind of agility and ease, you sometimes need a fair amount of control over what data collaborators can see, who can see it, and how to keep everyone in the loop. Maximum flexibility and minimum confusion are the aims of project management roles, and Smartsheet offers a range of options to make those goals realistic for you and your team. 

A common problem when it comes to document collaboration is that it tends to be all or nothing. Sometimes you may want to send someone only a portion of the data involved in your project. For example, you need to send a client several columns from a sheet, but don’t want them to see confidential company information in some of the other columns. Or you need your salespeople to update data in their rows of the sales pipeline without seeing information from the other salespeople’s rows.

Smartsheet provides the solutions for these scenarios. There are a number of ways to send only part of a sheet, and which one you choose will depend on what data the recipient needs to see — and whether or not they need to make changes once they get it.

Read-only options

If you don’t need users to make changes to the data you’re sending, there are a few of possibilities for delivering read-only versions. These options don’t require that you share the entire sheet with recipients, nor do recipients even need a Smartsheet account:

Send a row or set of rows

If you need a colleague to see several rows on your sheet without allowing them to see the rest, you can send selected rows as an attachment

  1. Click a row number to select that row.
  2. Control-click additional rows (Command-click on a Mac) to add them to the selection.
  3. When you have selected all the rows you want to send, right-click one of the selected rows and choose Send Row… to send a PDF attachment of those rows to one or more email addresses. You can also customize which columns will be sent by clicking the Edit button near the bottom of the window. Recipients will only be able to view the columns you choose.

Show ongoing changes by publishing a report

Sending rows will deliver a static view of those rows at a specific moment in time. If you prefer to send people a more dynamic view of your data that updates as you make changes, you can publish a report in read-only format. Reports can be created by licensed users on Advanced plans or higher (or during a free trial), and allow you to look across one or more sheets to show rows that meet the criteria you specify. They also help you share just the right amount of information. 

As with sending rows, you can select which columns from the included sheets will show in the report. Once you create the report, you can publish it and send the link to your colleagues. They will be able to view a read-only copy that will update as changes are saved on the report or the source sheets.

Use cell linking to create a rollup of key data

Cell Linking allows you to link data in cells between multiple sheets. Using this method, you can provide a roll-up of key data from one or more sheets. For example, your boss needs a master project  sheet showing the important phases of your current projects but doesn’t want to see all of the subtasks from every sheet. You can use cell linking to create the master sheet by doing the following:

  1. Make a copy of your sheet. This will be the master sheet that you share. Uncheck the Keep all data and formatting checkbox to create a blank copy of your sheet.
  2. Start linking cells. To do this, select one or more cells in the sheet (Ctrl-click or Cmd-click to select additional cells).
  3. Select the Cell Linking icon in the left toolbar. A screen will pop up and display all of your other project sheets.
  4. Select the original sheet from the left panel to display its content in the right panel.
  5. Click and drag your mouse around the same cells you selected in the copy.
  6. Click Create Link at the bottom of the form. The cells you select to link from the pop-up screen will appear in the same order they do in your original source sheet.
  7. Continue linking until you have linked all of the cells you want in the original sheet back to the master.
  8. Follow steps 2–7 above to link cells from any other source sheets you need.
  9. Share the master sheet.

Note that using this method means you will only be able to edit data on the source sheets (the original sheets), not the destination (the master) sheet.

The editable option

If you need your team or clients to make changes to the data you send them, simply send an update request:

Update requests are a great way to get a quick update from other people on one or more rows of your sheet. An update request can be sent to any valid email address — so vendors, clients, and consultants don’t need access to the entire sheet, nor do they even need a Smartsheet account to make changes. Like sending rows, update requests allow you to choose which columns the recipient can see by clicking the Edit button in the Customize section. You can also track pending and completed update requests on your sheet by clicking the Update Requests tab at the bottom of the sheet.

Using these methods, you’ll become a master at sending selected data to clients, contractors, and members of your team. You can preserve the integrity and confidentiality of the original data while allowing others to view and edit the data they need.

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