Workback - how?

I know I'm being thick as this would seem to be a super basic thing to know how to do, but I can't figure it out.

I have a project which has a final task delivery date of say, 30 April 2024.

I know each of the tasks involved.

I know approximately how long each of those tasks will take to complete.

However, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to list out all those tasks, set a final completion date and then have the sheet work out the dates for all the predecessor tasks.

I have tried using the Hard Deadline with Gantt chart. It doesn't work. Dates don't change. I have also read several posts saying you need to change the Type of predecessor - but no-one seems to explain exactly which Type I need to specify and whatever I choose, all the dates I've put in just get replaced with a blank space.

Say for instance, I have a task of 'Publish document' for 30 April. Publishing will take 1d

Before I publish, I must have completed 'proofreading' (5d)

And before proofreading, I must complete 'draft sign-off' (3d)

What exactly do I need to put in each relevant column for the sheet to tell me the date on which I must start 'draft sign-off'?


  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @deusxm

    As you're building out your tasks from the bottom, start by adding in the Duration first, then the End Date for that task. This will auto-populate the Start Date, taking into account working hours, weekends, etc.

    Keep in mind when you enter tasks in this way, Smartsheet assumes the finish date needs to be by that date so it may auto-revert to the final hour of the previous day. You may want to add in the End Date as the next day:

    Then you can use the Start Date of this task as the day to add in above



  • deusxm
    deusxm ✭✭

    Thanks @Genevieve P. That's good but what I'm looking for is for an automated deadline system that can work backwards without me needing to manually input finish dates for each individual component, and identifies how one task cannot start until another has been completed.

    Basically, if I put in the following tasks:

    1. Draft sign-off (1d)
    2. Proofreading (5d)
    3. Publish (3d)

    and give durations for each task, input how long each task will take, and then identify that Task 3's predecessor is 2, and Task 2's predecessor is 1, and then input the start date for Task 1, then the sheet will correctly identify when each task will finish and the overall project will complete. If I say Task 1 will start on Friday 19 January, it will correctly identify that Task 3 should finish on Wednesday 31 Jan.

    However, I can't get it to work in reverse - if I do the above, and then input a finish date of Wednesday 31 Jan for Task 3, the sheet simply won't accept the dates and leaves them blank.

    Basically, I want to be able to state when a project has to finish, what tasks need to be put in - and then the sheet to tell me when I need to start work automatically, rather than the manual process identified.

  • Genevieve P.
    Genevieve P. Employee Admin

    Hi @deusxm

    Thank you for clarifying your scenario and desired performance! Smartsheet cannot currently auto-populate dates and dependencies working backwards, as you've found.

    Another member has submitted product feedback around this topic - please feel free to add your vote and voice to this Product Idea to provide your request to the Product team : Use the End date and dependencies to drive the project timings