Smartsheet online project management and collaboration software announced new features in their latest update. The software is known for its spreadsheet-like interface that is easy to use, whether to complete assigned tasks or to collaborate with others on projects. It is also a very flexible tool in managing and tracking projects of any size with its various views such as the Calendar view or the Gantt chart view. Now, it has become more powerful with features that can automatically calculate the critical path, and a more options in entering duration that includes weeks, hours, and minutes called partial day duration.
Automatic Critical Path Calculation
Project plans usually contain multiple tasks with a given duration that should happen in a particular sequence or order. More complex projects may contain hundreds of tasks and several dependencies that can be a challenge to monitor. Some of these tasks when delayed directly impact the entire project and completion date. These tasks said to be on the critical path should be completed to maximize the chances of completing the project on time. Clicking Smartsheet‘s Critical Path icon automatically identifies the critical tasks that should be worked on for teams to meet their project deadlines. Every task on the critical path will be outlined and highlighted in red in the Gantt chart. Any change in the project plan will automatically update in real time the critical path, that is, if changes are significant enough to affect it and cause impact on the project delivery date.
To use the Critical Path functionality, users should enable the Gantt view. It is also important that dependencies are enabled and predecessors are included in order for the software to identify and calculate the critical path. On the right-hand side, users should click the Critical Path icon on the far-right. It looks like a two red Gantt bars. After clicking, the users will now see the tasks that are on the critical path highlighted in red. Enabling the critical path is also available in iOS and Android, where the Critical Path icon is usually located at the bottom of the screen.
Partial Day Duration
Smartsheet project management and collaboration software also included another user-requested feature called partial day duration. With options such as weeks, hours and minutes, even seconds, users have greater and more accurate control of task duration and working hours. Users can even mix and match units, such as 5d 2h (five days and two hours), or 3h 45m (three hours and forty-five minutes). The benefit of having a more granular control over duration becomes apparent when multiple dependent tasks are considered. This means that schedules can be planned more accurately and tasks assigned more efficiently, which in turn affect budget, resources, and other factors as well.
To use duration units in a project sheet, dependencies must be enabled in the Project Settings. To enter the new task durations, in the Duration column of the sheet, users can enter a number followed by a unit: w for weeks, d for days, h for hours, m for minutes, s for seconds, and ms for milliseconds. Working days can be whole (4d) or partial (3.5d). Entering an elapsed time, which ignores non-working time, is preceded by an ‘e’, such as e3.5d or e7h. To set the hours in a working day, dependencies must be enabled. From the Gantt view, click the Settings (gear) icon. Under the Dependency Settings, Working Days, click edit. Under the length of day, enter the number of hours. Dragging the task Gantt bar also automatically adjusts the schedule.
Other Feature Updates
Smartsheet also included other enhancements and improvements in this latest release. For instance, the look and feel of forms have been changed, with the dark gray bar removed from the top. Also, the sharing form used to invite collaborators on a particular sheet has been redesigned. Now, permissions are easier to select and change.
In other improvements, the Edit Gantt Settings is now called Project Settings, colors of the Gantt bars have a lighter shade, with roll-over colors and highlights consistent with the task bars, and the addition of three new column types with data type changes. Also, SysAdmins on the Enterprise account have an option to add a link to the Help menu.