New in Smartsheet: Critical Path and Duration in Minutes, Hours, and Weeks

Smartsheet’s two most requested features, critical path and duration in minutes, hours, and weeks, are here!

For every project, having a greater level of control over task duration and working hours helps increase efficiency and accuracy in planning. Now, anyone managing a project has the option to set time durations in any unit they choose, including seconds, minutes, hours and weeks. We call this "partial days.”

Project owners can now also identify the most important tasks with one click -- the ones that will delay your project if not completed on time. This is "critical path,” and will highlight your most critical tasks so you can stay on top of your project. 

Here’s more information about the new features: 

Enter Project Duration in Minutes, Hours, or Weeks 

You now have a new level of granular control over project schedules by specifying duration of tasks in minutes (‘m’), hours (‘h’), partial days (0.5d), or weeks (‘w’). You can even mix and match units, like 5d 2h or 3d 45m. Just type the unit of time after your duration and Smartsheet automatically adjusts your schedule, on desktop and on mobile. 

These new duration options also mean that milestones will no longer be a full day -- you now have the ability to add zero-day milestones to your project schedules. And if your typical work day is less or more than the standard eight hours, you can specify that as well, by setting the hours in a working day. Your whole timeline automatically adjusts so you can stay nimble and specific to your business needs. 


To use the new task durations:

  • In the Duration column in your sheet, simply enter a number followed by the unit: ‘m’ for minutes, ‘h’ for hours, and ‘w’ for weeks. For partial days, enter ‘0.5d’ or ‘2.5d.’


To set the hours in a working day:  

  1. Toggle to the Gantt chart view (make sure your dependencies are enabled). 
  2. On the right-hand side, in the Gantt view, click the gear icon.
  3. Under Dependency Settings, in the section called Working Days, click Edit.
  4. Under Length of Day, enter the number of hours in the workday. 
  5. Click Ok to close Working Days, and Ok again to save your project settings. 


Automatically Calculate Critical Path 

In any given project, you may have hundreds of tasks and dozens of dependencies. And it can be almost impossible to identify the most important tasks -- the ones that, if missed, will impact the entire project and its completion date. With critical path, you can automatically identify these critical tasks, the ones that you really need to worry about to make sure you meet your deadline. 

With the click of an icon, all of the tasks that directly impact your project completion date will be outlined in bright red on the Gantt chart. The critical path will change in real time, reflecting any changes in live data. And, it will work seamlessly across desktop and mobile, and with any color settings in your sheet.


To use critical path on desktop:

  1. Enable the Gantt chart view.
  2. On the right-hand side, in the Gantt view, click the far-right critical path icon (it looks like two red Gantt bars).
  3. On the Gantt chart, the tasks that are on the critical path will be outlined in red.


To use critical path on iOS and Android:

  1. Enable the Gantt chart view.
  2. On the bottom of your screen, click the critical path icon (it looks like two red Gantt bars).
  3. On the Gantt chart, the tasks that are on the critical path will be outlined in red. Tasks that are on the critical path will also be highlighted in red on your task list on the left side.


Note: In order to enable critical path, you must have a fully networked Gantt chart. In other words, you must enable dependency settings. 

Huge Advances for Project Managers 

Duration in minutes, hours and weeks, as well as critical path, bring Smartsheet to the next level of project management and team collaboration. You’ll have greater control over project schedules, ensuring that your timeline stays on track and remains accurate. You’ll also be able to easily identify the most important tasks in your project, keeping everyone on the same page and meeting deadlines.

For more information about this release, read our external release notes

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Comments

Hi Gordon -- Our "duration in hours" feature does not include resource management. However, since you can enter duration in hours, there is less need for the allocation column. You could leave the allocation column turned off on project sheets, or leave it at the default 100%, and just type your task duration in hours. We know resource management is important, and I have passed along your feedback to the Product team. Best, Emily

Hi Ronika -- Yes, you can manually enter the allocation % per resource, per task. Here's an article about how to do it: http://help.smartsheet.com/customer/portal/articles/1346969

Hi Gloria -- Here's an Inventory Management template (https://www.smartsheet.com/solutions/inventory-management) that could be a good starting point for you. You can right-click on columns to rename the column headers to customize it to car sales. Best, Emily

When will SmartSheet be adding the option to assign multiple resources and possibly teams? This would be a great value to those of us who don't use just one person per line item.

Hi Sarah -- Thank you for your feedback. I have passed this comment along to our Product team for future consideration. In the meantime, one workaround that other customers use that will work with resource management is to list the same task on multiple rows and assign each one to a different person. You might consider indenting all of the rows underneath a parent header row for the task for organizational purposes. Best, Emily

This is a great addition, but are there plans to allow critical path to be displayed in alternative ways? We would like to display it by changing the critical task row fonts to red in addition to displaying it on the gantt.

Hi Jim -- Thank you for your feedback! I have passed this along to our Product team as the continue to work on our critical path capabilities. We do display tasks on the critical path in red font on mobile. In the meantime, you could change the task font color to red. Best, Emily

Hi Emily - I'm with Jim... Alternative display of critical path would be great. For instance, as a choice in the conditional formatting dialog box: IF task IS critical path, THEN use THIS FORMAT on TASK. The critical path feature is GREAT, but the Gantt charts are ungainly as my schedules often surpass 1000 tasks... Lots of scrolling and really hard to print. Good to hear that you are already doing this on mobile... Keep up the good work - critical path is SUPER USEFUL to me already.

OK, so I figured out how to make the font red for the critical path tasks. You can use conditional formatting and change the font color to red for the entire row with the condition of total slack being equal to zero. This is the definition of a critical path task.

How did you identify the total slack for a given activity? Is there a hidden column in Smartsheet that you can query for the conditional formatting. One thing I'd like to do is filter a schedule to show critical tasks only. A way to do this would be to have a column with checkboxes that are checked based on a formula that identifies whether the activity has zero slack. Then just filter the sheet for activities that have the checkbox ticked. However I haven't worked out how to determine or calculate the slack for each activity. Any ideas?

Hi Peter -- There is not currently a way to calculate total slack in Smartsheet. I have passed this feedback to our Product team as they continue to work on our critical path feature. Thank you, Emily

Please implement Total Slack. This is so important to identify tasks on/near-critical path and is the only way to conditionally format tasks to dynamically show critical/near-critical path.

Hi Craig -- Total slack is not implemented in Smartsheet as of today. I can't speak for Jim, however his method of using conditional formatting may be possible for a basic schedule with hard-coded formulas, but it will not work for most people. -Emily

So, it <i>sounds</i> like an exciting new enhancement until you go check it out and all of your in-progress schedules are now in days! Especially if you've implemented a workaround and implemented hours in percentages of days (.25d = 2h, .5d= 4h, etc). Now every schedule I have has to be updated manually. Also, it's <sarcasm>super unhelpful</sarcasm> to have to add FS+1d after tasks to get them to start on the next day when previously this happened when setting dependencies. I can only assume this is happening because my durations aren't equalling to a full 8 hour day. These 20+ sheets are going to be a JOY to update.

Hi Hanna -- I'm sorry to hear you're running into some challenges. I don't quite understand the issue you're running into -- do you want .25d to equal one day? .25d should equal 2h in the new duration column. Please email our Support team at support@smartsheet.com so we can better understand and help you update these sheets Best, Emily

Hi Eric -- Absolutely! Just make sure it's in the duration column and you're using a supported format (like minutes, hours, weeks, partial days or days). Best, Emily

Is this feature backward compatible with existing sheets? Or a better question is; Why is this feature not compatible with any of my existing sheets Or another question is: to enable this feature which sheet template do you need to use Let's not assume everyone wants to read all the help pages because we are too busy, and just want to click and go

Hi Paul -- Yes, critical path and the new duration types are compatible with all existing and new sheets. All of your existing task durations will show "d" for days after the numeric values. If you have existing sheets with partial day tasks, they will automatically adjust after the update. The critical path feature is available for all project sheets that have all dependency settings enabled. All your tasks must be linked by predecessors in order for critical path to work. You can see the new critical path icon on the right-hand side in the Gantt view (it looks like tow red Gantt bars). Best, Emily

Does this mean I can set dependencies on the ipad/iPhone app now? The iOS app is pretty useless to me if I can't set dependencies ? Shaun

Hi Shaun -- You can't create or edit dependencies in the app at the moment, but it is coming. Our mobile team has been working on it and we will get it enabled as quickly as we can. Best, Emily

I've also submitted this through the helpdesk but include here in case anyone else has similar issues. It appears that when the product upgrade was made by Smartsheet on 11th July something changed in respect of exporting of the sheet to Excel. Basically we use smart sheet to allow multiple people to input data. We then export the data collected on the Smartsheet to an excel spreadsheet. We then use the date from the spreadsheet to run lots of fairly sophisticated pivot tables and reports. We’ve used this more or less every day since November 2014 and it has worked fine until 12th July. Since Sunday 12th when we have exported the data, the apparently empty cells on the Smartsheet are no longer empty – but it is not possible for us to see what is in them either on the Smartsheet or the Excel Spreadsheet. Because these cells are not completely empty when we run the pivot tables and reports; these “empty” cells (which since 12th July are now in actual fact no longer empty) are returning a value of not being empty despite the fact they don't have any data input by our inputters. This is causing us a big problem. We have tried phoning but although we are reaching your toll free provider we are cut off after a minute or so Do you have a number we can phone from Scotland that is not toll free?

Hi David -- I am sorry to hear you're running into some issues. We'd be happy to help. The easiest way to reach our Support team is via email at support@smartsheet.com. Live phone support is also available for users on Team or Enterprise plans. Go to Account > Account Admin to see if your plan includes phone support. For all other Smartsheet users, you can leave a voice message requesting a call back from our Support team by dialing 1-844-324-2360. And lastly, you could also post in the Smartsheet Community (https://community.smartsheet.com/) which is moderated by a Community Manager from our Support team. Best, Emily

NO!!! This critical path does not show up if you have modified the original template. If you have done any copy/pasting and rearranging rows, and dates, the critical path will not show up, no matter how organized your timeline is. I find this software to be one dimensional with the way it has no browser settings, or real plotting capabilities also.

Hi Parker -- I am sorry to hear you're having some problems. Critical path will only appear if you have enabled dependency settings in your Gantt chart. Please email our Support team at support@smartsheet.com so we can find out what is going on. Best, Emily

Dear Smatsheet team, thanks a lot for this great update. I have one question about planning project. It is possible to start task in different time? For example: task name: meeting duration: 2h start: 11.08.15 at 10:00 Thanks for yout answer, Best, Marian.

Hi Marian -- Glad you like the new features. We currently do not support time of day, but it is something we are looking at for a future enhancement. I've also passed this feedback to our Product team. Best, Emily

Great product, but we actually need to specify the hours of the duration. For example, for our Multiclass Management we have certain tasks running THE SAME DAY from 8-10am and others from 11-12pm. Therefore knowing how many hours is no help. Please, let me know if this feature could be available. Thanks

Hi Miguel. Thank you for your feedback. I have contacted our Product team with your suggestion to add the option to specify the hours of the duration - The Smartsheet Team

Thanks for adding this functionality. It seems like it will only work in a "Critical Path" type mode though, where tasks happens sequentially - rather than being able to schedule them in time. I need to be able to assign START TIME to a task, as well as duration. And I need a view that ZOOMs to the hourly or 15-minute level. Right now it's hard to really coordinate things in the broader "Day/Week" view. Is there a way to get more detailed resolution? Thanks! I like a lot else about this product. I hope this can happen, so I can make actual, daily schedules with it. Otherwise, it's back to Excel...Lame.

Hi James. Yes, critical path only works if the tasks are linked via predecessors. I have notified our Product Team about creating a start time feature and a view that can zoom to the hourly/minute level. Thanks for your feedback! - The Smartsheet Team

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