How to get realistic timeline of the project considering the resource allocated

Hi all,

First time using smartsheet and haven't been able to figure it out. I searched on this forum and seems like back in the days people had similar issues. Not sure if it's been resolved or not. Here is the issue:

I have contractors that are helping with the project. I need to get a realistic timeline to know when their work finishes. When I put in different pieces of the work in smartsheet, it overlaps them although the resource is the same. So it basically shows that everything can be done with a week (the largest chunk of work takes 5d). I'm not sure what to do for smartsheets to consider that this the same resource and can't do 10 things at once. I don't want to create irrelevant dependency across the work just to be able to stretch the timeline.

The other issue I'm dealing with is that the estimates are off (or unexpected things happen) and the contractors are actually behind. So if a piece of work is 50% complete and was supposed to be done yesterday, it will actually take another 50% of the original estimate to finish the work from TODAY. Smartsheets seems like to be agnostic to that and still shows that in the timeline the work was supposed to be done yesterday. How can I adjust for that without really hacking into the timeline and length of project?

Thanks for your time

Amir

Answers

  • This is admittedly not an easy thing to manage within a Smartsheet project plan. There are some tools to assist with the specific issues you identified, however, they will require proper understanding and higher level of manual management to keep the plan up to date. The main topics for your consideration are listed below with some general feedback on use.

    • Start Date, End Date, Duration columns - Requires a clear understanding of relationship between these.
    • Predecessors column - this allows for mapping dependencies between individual rows (Start Date to Start Date, End Date to Start Date, etc.), where changing a date on one row could automatically change a date on another row with Predecessor setup.
    • %Complete column - Works well with Gantt View.
    • Resource Allocation and %Allocation column: This provides feedback for percent of time allocated for individual resources assigned to a task. It is a slightly complex setup. %Allocation column provides an estimated expected time for a specific resource commitment on a specific task/row in relation to the Duration column. For example: 100% would indicate the full 8 hour day, vs 50% would indicate 4 hours out of the work day. If used for Resource Allocation, the Duration column impact is critical. Below is a link with more detailed explanation. https://help.smartsheet.com/articles/1346971-resource-views?source=apphelpicon

    In general, if working on one or two larger project plans this could be very useful and more manageable, but it becomes much more difficult the more project plans need to be kept up with.


  • Thanks a lot Tim, for taking the time to answer my question. I read through the points you brought up and still couldn't figure out what to do. Let me dig deeper in the issue of timeline for multiple tasks that are assigned to the same resource. A contractor starts on 7/1 and has three things to do: Task A takes 3 days, Task B takes 2 days, and Task C takes 4 days. There is no meaningful dependency between the tasks. Only that all of them have to be done to achieve the project goals. If I create a task and put subtasks A, B, and C (and allocate them to the contractor), it shows that the task will be done in 4 days. In reality because the same resource is working on the 3 subtasks, it should show that it takes 9 days (3 + 2 + 4) to finish all the work. I know if I make Task C dependent on Task B which is dependent on Task A, then I can stretch the timeline. But really that's not the right thing to do, because the tasks are naturally not related to each other in that way. Is there a solution or at least a clean hack to achieve that? I basically don't consider creating irrelevant dependencies a clean hack. I tried it and for a small project, it quickly became cumbersome at best.

  • I am also facing the same situation as Amir. I would be interested to know a workaround/solution (in addition to the ones already proposed, which is not yet satisfactory).

  • The options I see in the example with the three sub tasks are:

    1. Merge the three tasks into a single row and allocate 9 days.
    2. Update the dates with duration manually on the specific tasks.
    3. Use the predecessors, but that could provide the "misleading" dependencies. However, if you consider that a single resource creates a dependency, it may still provide the correct duration impact for the overall project timeline.

    Provided that accuracy of timeline is a necessity, the choice between these boils down to efficiency vs clarity of tasks dependencies. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any better way to do that specifically in Smartsheet project plan. Hope this helps a little.

  • Thanks a lot Tim for sharing your thoughts.

    1 and 3 mean to manually calculate things for smartsheet and I thought those are not best practices considering what I need and the limitation we have.

    I opted in for the second option you mentioned i.e every week, when I sit with the team, I update the start date of every item on the project. But to get an earliest expectation of when the project will be done, I'll need to do manual calculation to consider shared resources which is extremely cumbersome for bigger projects. You would think that this is of the most basic features that you'd need. Wondering why it's not implemented.

    Again thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  • I agree with your frustrations on this. My personal preference with Smartsheet project plans is to simplify them by eliminating (hiding) the % Complete and not relying on Resource Allocation at all. I can manage with the predecessors, but no doubt there are some compromises that have to be made to make them help, rather than hinder date planning/projections.