Smartsheet is an online tool I use for timelines, gantt, task lists, for overall project and event planning. Its a web-based tool and you can easily access it anytime, anywhere. What I like about this tool is the pre-defined templates and the fact that is easy to use.
Here’s how to set up a time plan for your project:
- Choose your template:
You have pre-defined templates you can use, depending on your project need. There are many templates you can use but I believe you only need 3 of them, for efficiency and tracking your project.
Task List – this template can act as an “Action list” in which you add all the tasks your team must do to keep the project going.
Project Sheet – standard project timeline.
This is the one I use (and probably most project managers who use Smartsheet choose) when it comes to doing timelines for projects. The left hand side bar with the toolbar has all the necessary items you need to do the timeline properly and easy to follow by anyone. Here’s an overview:
Views — pretty self explanatory, I would recommend the “Gantt” view as this offers the best insight in terms of timings, responsibilities and percentage complete.
Indent — allows you to set you the tasks and subtasks and sub-subtasks if you need to.
Formatting — very similar to MS Word – a selection of options to change font, colours, sizes, alignment and so on.
The other elements within the toolbar are very similar to the Microsoft Office package and should be a straight forward usage for you!
The columns you have in the timeline sheet are specific for a standard project timeline, as follows:
Task name — on this column you add each action needed for your project
Duration —in days, how much would your project take
Start — when you start working on that task and Finish — when you should or you think you’d be finishing the task
Predecessors – this is an important column because it allows you to automatically schedule the tasks by referring to the previous one. For example, in our screenshot, line 3 is dependent (precedes) line 2 and therefore you must do the task from line 2 which will allow you to work on the task from line 3.
Assigned to — yes, you can assign an action to somebody in your team and they will get notifications that you have made them responsible of getting that actions done.
Complete – as you go through your list of actions depending on the “Stage” (or phase or deliverable) you can add the percentage complete and Smartsheet will automatically calculate how much of that particular stage/phase/deliverable you’ve done.
Kanban Sheet – this template is good enough if you want to try some Agile project management. The back log column allows you, as the “product owner” (so to speak) to add tasks for your team to work on and be moved into the appropriate column as the project progresses.
2. Share the template
Make the team aware and share the timeline template with your team members. You have a “share” button top right corner. In order for you to share the project plan with the others they must be added as contributors in Smartsheet so they receive notifications.
You can also make the client aware of it and share a link with the client, but before you do so ensure you publish the timeline by clicking on the globe icon on ride hand side. It will give you the option to generate a link you can share with anyone and they will be able to view (not edit) your task list or timeline:
If you want to try Smartsheet, go here. They allow you to try a free trial and have a play!