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Unlocking Productivity: Navigating Dependencies with SmartSuite Automation

Unlocking Productivity: Navigating Dependencies with SmartSuite Automation

10 minutes

February 27, 2023

We are thrilled to delve into a compelling query we received from Allison of the SmartSuite community. She's brought up a conundrum faced by many in the project management realm: can you set up tasks in SmartSuite to automatically unblock once certain dependencies are met—especially when those prerequisites involve client-provided information?

The Challenge

In the bustling world of a market research company, actions are often gated behind the precious treasure trove of data that clients send in. Until that crucial info lands in our laps, certain tasks stay on hold, sequestered in a "blocked" state like detained knights awaiting the call to adventure.

The Promise of what's to come

We're all on the edge of our seats for the new SmartSuite release, promising sweet new features like Gantt charts and enhanced project management tools. John gave us a sneak peek in a recent webinar, and we're itching to put those to work. But what about now? Do we just twiddle our thumbs in limbo? Certainly not.

A Crafty Solution in the Interim

Until the grand unveiling, I have conjured up a makeshift—albeit clever—strategy to bend SmartSuite to our will.

Let’s dive into SmartSuite's uncharted waters and rig up our tasks app. Considering a project brimming with tasks, we see a few stalled at the gate, yearning for that onboarding form filled with client insights before they can surge forward.

Molding SmartSuite to Our Needs

Instead of simply lamenting the absence of built-in features, why not play the crafty sorcerer and conjure up our own? We'll erect two new fields: one to signify what these tasks are beholden to ("Blocked By"), and another to declare the obstacle itself ("Blocker").

The "Blocked By" field is a self-referencing link, a portal back into the task's own realm. Though typically tasks could have a litany of fetters, we're keeping it simple—one blockage per task, lest we spiral into chaos.

However, as I stitched this linkage, the two-way mirror aspect didn't sit well with me. Our onboarding form isn't hindered by these tasks; it’s the other way around!

The Unsung Hero: The Yes/No Field

Amid these revelations, the "Blocker" field shines as our beacon. In this field, only the true barricade—the onboarding form—sports a resounding "Yes." Now we have clarity: it is this task that reigns as the blockade, not the others.

Transforming this "Blocker" field into a visual flag grants instant recognition, a scarlet letter calling out amidst sea of tasks.

Unleash the Floodgates: Automation Magic

The true elegance emerges with SmartSuite's automation feature. Here we craft a trigger: when our "Blocker" sheds its "Yes" status, signifying completion, it's time for the captive tasks to be freed.

We then scavenge the children tasks linked by "Blocked By." The key lies in basing our searches on the title rather than an ID—a handy trick for sure.

Once identified, we metamorphose the status of these tasks from "Blocked" to "Ready." And if you're feeling particularly whimsical, why not dispatch a notification to the task owner? A digital bird to sing news of their unblocked state.

Let's set the stage with our onboarding form task switching from "Blocked" to "Complete." With a quick tap, we invoke our automation and watch. In a blink, the related tasks shift status—no longer imprisoned by inaction.

Epilogue

To Allison and all those navigating the maze of project management, I hope you find this guide illuminating. If other questions lurk in the recesses of your project-laced minds, don't hesitate to send them my way.

Here's to unlocking productivity, one automated solution at a time.

To experience SmartSuite's key benefits for yourself, start a free trial today and explore its intuitive work management platform.