Clever ways of recording when a task moves from one stage to another


Hi all,

Can anyone think of a clever way to record when a task moves from one stage to the next, or how long a task was at each stage? Our standard task has 5 stages to go through before it is complete. My boss wants to be able to analyse how long each task is taking at each stage. My first thought was to put a date column for each stage where you just record when it has been completed (and then have another column which auto populates what stage the task is on based on which column has a date in it) - we could then calculate the number of days between each stage.

However, the team in charge of inputting the data are reluctant to have more columns to update - at the moment they just change the value in a "Status" column. Can anybody think of any innovative solutions that I could use where it doesn't feel like you're doing lots of data entry. I tried looking to see if Smartsheet could record when a cell has been changed from one value to another but that doesn't seem to be possible without third party software.

Thanks in advance for your help. Oh, and I know that simply adding a date in a column isn't really any more work than changing a status column and could give me much more functionality, but ... some people can't be reasoned with!!