Dependencies, in my opinion, are the key reason to use a tool like Smartsheet or Microsoft Project – it seems like there are always reasons why one thing can’t start until another thing has completed. Although Smartsheet isn’t quite as smart as Microsoft Project, it gets the gist of the dependencies and adds the ability to collaborate with team members more easily, in a more user friendly interface. Note: for large, highly technical project, I would recommend Microsoft Project over Smartsheet due to its more robust capabilities.
When building out projects in Smartsheet I like them to be in a phase approach with various milestones and deliverables. In this example we had a dependency that the system be refreshed before we could start development, but that didn’t mean that we could start the architecture/design phase simultaneously. Smartsheet helped me to be able to visualize in the gantt when development (line 11) could truly start – based on completion of the system refresh (line 2) and the project requirements (line 8). If the system refresh would have moved, my development phase start date would get pushed to a further date.
One other key piece to this project was the delivery date to the customer. It couldn’t be any later than May 6, as this was the scheduled training session with the user group. To ensure that changes throughout the project to delivery dates wouldn’t impact the training date, I set up conditional formatting to alert me if/when the Finish Date of line 26 was later than May 6. In the screenshots below you can see that when the release date gets pushed out a day, line 26 changes to May 7 and turns red.
On target deadline: