How Smartsheet gives my team more time for clients

by Guest Author

Editor’s Note: Here at Smartsheet, our customers inspire us every day. This article comes from Paul Newcome, Implementation Specialist at Merkle Response Management Group (RMG).

As an implementation specialist at Merkle Response Management Group (RMG), one of the nation’s largest direct-response processing and fulfillment companies, I work to assist my team with everything they need to get our clients set up for success.

My team works across a variety of projects on everything from helping a brand-new nonprofit client with their donation processing workflow to helping existing clients add in contact center services. Some of our services can take more than 12 weeks to implement, and it’s my job to make sure they have the visibility and accountability to stay on track and run smoothly.

This work is very similar to a puzzle, except instead of having the box lid to look at for a view of the finished product, we have a bunch of pieces scattered about that we have to put together with only an idea of what the big picture should look like. It is very challenging and fast-paced here, but that’s the way we like it!

We began using Smartsheet to help improve visibility and communications across our Account Management and Implementation Teams, but more than that, to improve how we work with our clients.

Before we started using Smartsheet, we were facing issues with version-control and did most of our work in spreadsheets. There is difficulty when you're trying to manage multiple projects in that way, while actually providing leadership of the organization with transparency into what is going on.

"More time to focus on our clients" 

Over the past six months, I have been tasked with helping develop a better way to manage our project plans and roll-up reporting in Smartsheet. I’m also in the process of building out an entire workspace for my department.

At this point in the process, I come in and I hop right on Smartsheet, and I stay in Smartsheet pretty much until I clock out for the day.

Two Merkle RMG employees look at a smartphone

There's a lot of communication and coordination between me, the implementation managers, and our vice president to figure out exactly what they want to see reported and what they want to see tracked.

It’s given me an opportunity to take existing sheets of information and optimize them with formulas to reference roll-up sheets and pull all of this data together automatically and efficiently.

Instead of having to sift through a project plan that has data located in various sections with multiple versions and a couple hundred rows, we’re now able to filter to specific dates in Smartsheet to find out what's going on this week, what's coming up next week, and anything that may be past due in a much faster manner.

It really makes our day-to-day processes much smoother and gives us more time to focus on our clients.

"A game-changer for our team"

We've been able to implement a lot of automation into our daily routines so that we can free up our time to actually focus on our clients, as opposed to sending out regular emails or updating the same information in six different places.

We can now easily compile a lot of that information through the automation features in Smartsheet. It’s almost like you can set it and forget it. You set it up and you're not going to really forget about it or it’s importance, but you don't really have to do those repetitive tasks anymore.

Dashboards have been a game changer for our team. Your data doesn't really do you any good if you can’t display it in a way that’s easy to read, because nobody's going to pay attention to it. Being able to use dashboards to compile our crucial data and show it in a very efficient manner has helped us track all our implementation activity more accurately.

These features have also significantly changed the way we interact with our clients. In client meetings, we used to be stuck shuffling through various spreadsheets and documents, emailing them back and forth and hoping that the screen share was actually working.

In Smartsheet, we’ve built a kit containing everything that we're going to need to implement a new client. It has a project plan, a project charter, a dashboard and the reports and sheets that feed it and various other tracking sheets, all blank with automation already built in.

That has allowed us to very quickly and efficiently add a new project to our portfolio with consistencies throughout projects that greatly aid our efficiency. We had a few clients that were familiar with Smartsheet, so we went ahead and rolled it out to them first, and have received a lot of very positive feedback.

The Merkle RMG Smartsheet Council meets in a conference room

We can now all go to one dashboard and review the information together in real time. We've been able to build reports that will automatically pull in their information helping us quickly assess and easily filter to see what's upcoming.

A client phone call that would normally take us about an hour to an hour and a half now takes half the time because we're not having to search for the documents we need, allowing us to have more time to focus on the client and the more complicated aspects of the work we are doing with them. I’m excited to see how this process evolves as we continue to test it and roll it out to more and more clients.

Leverage your resources

I have only been using Smartsheet for just shy of a year now, but it has been extensive use. I have learned so much about this platform in a very short amount of time. I sit on a council at Merkle RMG that we call the Council of Champions.

We started as a network of internal stakeholders trying to figure out how we can best work Smartsheet into our regular business practices and get our peers up and running on the platform. We host office hours and work as an internal resource to help expand knowledge and awareness of Smartsheet while also working to identify efficiencies and opportunities throughout the company.

As we continue to apply Smartsheet across our organization, there are times where I'll run up against a problem and need to do some research to try and find a solution. The Smartsheet Community has become a valuable resource for me throughout all this work. I'll hop on there and try to find a solution for my issue, and while I'm there I'll go ahead and answer a question or two for others. The people on the Community themselves are great.

Not only has the Community been a great resource, but every time I've had to reach out to Smartsheet Support, I've had a great experience working with them. They're very knowledgeable and their answers are always clear and concise.

We're now identifying process improvements and operational efficiencies through all of the work that has been going on within Smartsheet. As we continue to apply it across a variety of teams at Merkle RMG, we’re excited to see how Smartsheet can help us take our work to the next level.

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