Production tracking with Google Spreadsheets

Bradypus: My upcoming free production management spreadsheet template

If you’ve been following my tweeters, you already know that I love open source/budget software. While researching how to setup our own indie pipeline, it seems that a big missing piece is the One Single Source of Truth: the task/shot/status tracking component of production management.

There’s lots and lots of great open source/affordable solutions for project management out there, but most are either a bit too complicated for an artist to setup (ie “compile this build on to your server without killing yourself.”) or just not specific to production. Or heck, just total overkill needing hours and hours of customization, hosting, etc to bend its robot heart to your human will.

(I’ll review some of this other options later, but trust me when I say I’ve tried almost everything while looking for a distributed team management.)

While researching options, I kept finding post and post from producers all admitting that they just use Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets! I tried to find a free template, but had no luck.

So for the first time in my life, I decided to conquer my fear of those devil math boxes, and finally learn how to use a spreadsheet program. First, I just wanted to put words into boxes, and maybe some numbers.

Then I learned about data validations. Color formatting. Google Scripts.

I created a programming monster, and this is the (almost complete) result: Bradypus. (Slothware by sloths for sloths?)

Key features so far?

1. User friendly – organized with both techs and artists in mind

2. Auto color coding from status – creates a document-wide visual language so you can mentally parse quickly

3. Dropdown lists – Any field that uses that same kind of data (ex: status: assigned, in progress, approved, etc) is a dropdown for consistency

4. Settings – Any field that is a dropdown pulls its data list from an included setting sheet. You can add a new/change options to your entire sheet easily

5. Hide/Show completed tasks – Custom menu item to hide/show completed rows to clean up the doc for prioritizing.

6. Status Charts – Separate sheet that displays key data (such as overall production status, task status, etc) as easy to review donut charts

What’s still left to do before release (soon)?

1. Sync with Google Tasks – (ALMOST complete.) I can sync between Google Tasks and the spreadsheet now. Working on Google calendar implementation

2. Unassigned – auto change to Assigned if there’s a name in the Team Member column

3. Project Progress % –  Calculate % based off of completed phases/tasks

4. Auto Phase Status for SHOTS – auto-update shot phase status color based on actual current phase in production

5. Fix “white bg on update” bug – color formatting/Tammy-isn’t-a-good-programmer-issue

6. Documentation – I should probably explain how it works and how to set it all up >.>

In a Perfect World, What Else? 

1. Dropbox/Drive integration – In a perfect world, a UI-driven way to enter in file path locations of Dropbox/Drive assets (i.e. NOT URL copypasta)

2. IOS Reminders/Calendar integration – Because I want GladOS Carrot to be my cruel robot production task manager

3. Integrate with Google Sites – Display key data for front-end/client/etc view on optional Google Sites

I’m very very close to at least releasing a 1.0 version template soon, programming learning curve be damned. Hopefully it will be useful for someone else too.