Project Sheet Columns: Start Date, End Date, Duration, % Complete and Predecessors

In a project sheet, you can enable automated dependency functionality in the following columns:

NOTE: Formulas aren't allowed in the columns listed above when dependencies are enabled.

Right-click any column's header and select Project Settings, or click the Project Settings icon in the Gantt chart header, to enable dependencies and map your columns to the automated functionality.

NOTE: With dependencies enabled, each parent row will reflect a summary overview of the child rows (sub-tasks) indented underneath it. The values in the project sheet columns listed above are calculated automatically and can't be modified. Learn more about how these values are calculated in our article on Parent Rollup Functionality.

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Start and End Dates

Each scheduled task requires a Start and End date with month, day, and year. Clicking the date-picker icon in the cell will ensure that the date is in the correct format. If your sheet includes a Gantt chart, the Start and End dates will be used to plot out bars in the chart.

The Start and End dates you select are meant to be the starting point for your scheduling and may shift as your schedule shifts. You can right-click on any cell and select View History to see previous values that were saved within it. This can be helpful in reviewing your original schedule to see where the timeline may have "slipped".

If a row has a given Duration and Predecessor value, the Start and End dates will be calculated automatically. If using the default Finish-to-Start (FS) or Start-to-Start (SS) predecessor relationship, the Start date will be set automatically based on the dates of the Predecessor task. The corresponding End date will be calculated automatically by adding the given Duration to the Start date. If using the Start-to-Finish (SF) or Finish-to-Finish (FF) predecessor relationships, the End date of the task will be calculated automatically based on the dates of the Predecessor task, and the Start date will be equivalent to the End date minus the given Duration.

If a task's Start or End date is driven by a predecessor, you can still change it manually by clicking in the cell and selecting a new date. Doing so will override the association with the Predecessor and remove the Predecessor value from the row.

NOTE: If a parent row has a Predecessor value listed, this dependency relationship will drive the Start dates for each child row making them un-editable. Deleting the Predecessor value on the Parent Row will remove this constraint and allow you to manipulate the child row dates individually.

With dependencies enabled, End dates of sub-tasks, as well as Start dates of sub-tasks that are driven by a predecessor, aren't editable from a report, a row update request, the iOS app or the Android app. Instead, you can manually update the Start date and/or Duration of a task and Smartsheet will automatically update the End date for you.

In the Gantt View, you can click-and-drag on the center of a task bar (a crosshair icon will appear) to move the task to a new Start and End date. Doing so may change the Duration value and would break any dependencies (remove the Predecessor values) previously established. Dragging from either end of the task bar will extend the Duration to a new Start or End date.

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Duration

Duration represents the amount of time a task is expected to take. Click on the Duration cell of a sub-task and type in the length of time. You can use a few different formats:

  • Weeks (e.g. 2w)
  • Whole working days (e.g. 4d)
  • Partial working days (e.g. 3.5d)
  • Hours (e.g. 7h).
  • Minutes (e.g. 60m)
  • Seconds (e.g. 500s) and milliseconds (e.g. 50000ms)
  • A combination of hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds (e.g. 4h 30m)
  • Elapsed time (lead with an e to indicate duration in elapsed time e.g. e3d, e5h, e3.5d, etc). A task with a duration in elapsed time ignores non-working time. The task will start and end in the amount of time specified regardless of working day length and non-working days in the sheet.

Parent (summary) rows will always reflect duration in partial working days.

If your task is taking longer than anticipated, you can increase the Duration to push out the End date. This will also push out the End dates of any dependent tasks automatically. A Duration of zero will create a diamond shape on the Gantt chart to indicate that the task is a milestone marking a significant event or checkpoint.

When you provide a Duration and a Start date (whether entered manually or driven by a Predecessor), the dependency functionality automatically calculates the End date by adding the number in the Duration cell to the Start date, excluding any Non-Working Days. If using partial working days, Smartsheet will also take into consideration the length of working days when calculating the End date. You can manually schedule a task to Start on a non-working day. When doing so, the Start date is included in the Duration but subsequent non-working days are excluded.

TIP: By default, the number of hours per working day is 8 but you can open the Project Settings on your sheet to change this.

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% Complete

On each child (sub-task) row, you can use the % Complete column to manually fill in the percentage of work that has been finished for that task. This will overlay a grey bar on each task in the Gantt chart to visualize the progress. In parent (summary) rows, the % Complete is calculated automatically by Smartsheet based on both the Duration and % Complete values you've manually entered into the child rows.

The % Complete automation in parent rows is optional. Open the Project Settings on the sheet and set the % Complete Column drop-down list to None to disable automation in this column. Doing so will enable you to use formulas in the parent rows or set the parent row values manually. It will also remove the progress indicator from the Gantt bars.

TIP: To format values in this column as percentages, click the column's header at the top then click the % icon in the left toolbar.

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Predecessors

You can make a task dependent on another task by typing another row’s number in its Predecessor column. The dates for the task will automatically adjust as its predecessor task dates change. Learn more about the various predecessor relationships and their impact on dependent task dates in our article on Using Dependencies & Predecessors.

The task dependencies you create using the Predecessors column will also drive the project's critical path. With task dependencies in place, Smartsheet is able to determine the sequence of tasks that drive the duration of the overall project. This sequence can be visually displayed in the Gantt chart via the critical path feature. Learn more about using this feature in our article on Tracking a Project's Critical Path.

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