Project Management: Automating Timelines Across Multiple Projects/Sheets
Before I go into specifics, maybe the simplest form of my question is: can I somehow mimic the functionality of LiquidPlanner's "Smart Schedules" in Smartsheet? (Just to clarify, my company doesn't have LiquidPlanner nor does it plan to, it's just the only product I've heard of that has this functionality out of the box.)
For specifics, here are the challenges I face with my projects (which are all in web content development):
- I need to provide approximate timelines for deliverables in each of my projects.
- Each of my projects has multiple deliverables, each deliverable has 20+ tasks (always essentially the same tasks), and I have at least 3 projects running at any one time. Each task occupies its own row under a parent deliverable row in my project sheets. Each task row has its own start and finish date cells.
- Start/finish dates are constantly in flux due to: 1) My work has to be sent to company-internal clients for review and approval multiple times per deliverable, and their feedback is often overdue. 2) Meetings and unscheduled priority work arise and delay scheduled tasks.
- If one task is delayed, it's easy enough to go into its project sheet and update the start/finish dates (using dependencies) for its deliverable, creating a new timeline for that deliverable. However, one problem is that this new timeline doesn't take into account the timelines for the other deliverables on the project (housed in the same sheet). The other problem is that this new timeline doesn't take into account the deliverable timelines for other projects (housed in other sheets).
- I don't have the time to manually go check that updating one deliverable's timeline hasn't caused timing and resource conflicts on other deliverables. Because of this, my approximate timelines get less and less accurate all the time.
I'm open to any suggestions, because I guarantee my view of project management is too limited and there are many solutions other than the kind of functionality LiquidPlanner has. I also have limited experience with spreadsheet formulas in general, and am probably missing some easy automation opportunities.