Assigning "consultant" or "unknown" person to a task


I’m just getting into Coda and testing functionality. I’ve started on my people table.

I know for some tasks, we will need to hire new people to fulfill those tasks. Is there a way to include those unknown “people” in the people column, i.e. Technical Engineer 1.

This will allow us to then see workload of those new potential hires and when we need to onboard them based on the tasks assigned.

I realize it may be an easy answer so apologies that I wasn’t able to quickly figure it out.

Thanks for your help!

Hi Andrew,

Welcome to Coda!

Yes, just enter “Technical Engineer 1” in the name column of the people table.

When you have a real person you can move forward in two ways:

  • Rename “Technical Engineer 1” to the name of the real person. Everywhere in your document “Technical Engineer 1” will be replaced with the real name.
  • If the entry in the people table called “Technical Engineer 1” needs to remain, add the real person to the people table, and manually enter her name everywhere it is needed.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for the quick reply! Much appreciated. I’m glad there is a solution, however I can’t quite get it to work.

When I have column formatted as people it doesn’t allow me to enter any random name, it only allows me to enter/select people from the following categories:
-People in Doc
-People not in document, but people in workspace, slack, google contacts

Thanks again for your support!

Apologies - I work on a team of one, so never use the column type “People”, and missed that you were not talking about an ordinary list of people.

Just of the cuff - Could you try creating a dummy email(s) called “Technical Engineer” provide it with access to your doc, and then use that?


Yes, good idea Piet as a workaroud, thanks for sharing and that creative muscle.

I still wonder if there is a mechanism that is already built into Coda more easily to use?

As another example, we partner with other groups. How do you have a workplan that assigns another group or persons outside the organization the task? I suppose soon I would be creating a lot of email accounts and would rather not do that.

Hey Andrew,

I would suggest to create a table “positions”/“roles” or something like that with at least two columns, one of the type “text” for the name of the position (e.g. “Technical Engineer 1”) and one “people” type column “person”. “position” should be the display column.

Your “tasks” table should then include an “assigned to” column, which is a lookup of “positions”.

The “my tasks” table/board for every user should then be a lookup of “tasks” with the filter thisrow.assignedto.person.contains(user())

An optional third column in “positions” could be added for email addresses. When notifying people about their tasks via button/automation, you could automatically send an email with a list of the assigned tasks to the email adress, if the “person” value is empty in this row.

Workload statistics can then be created for “positions”, while “person” or “email” of every position can change independently over time.

This explanation is still very abstract and requires a little bit of coding, please let me know if you need help with one of the required formulas.


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Hi Andrew,

I have not been using Coda long, and only part time, so there may very well be a more “standard” solution.

So when you assign a task to a person outside the organisation, will he have access to the doc?

If so, he should be available on the People list.
If not, you might have to consider a two types of persons. Internal and External. Internal people would then be accessible as “People”, while you would have a separate person table for external people, where you would capture their details. (Of course, all People could also be entered into the second table. We’re getting a little bit into the woods now…)

Hi Piet,

this would make it really hard to assign a task either to an internal or to an external person in the same column.

Moreover, @Andrew_Foote described a “pre-onboarding” scenario, which implies transitions of people between external and internal status. With your solution, you would have to reassign every single task in the case of such a transition.

Best regards

I appreciate this discussion and like the idea Marius.

One hiccup I foresee is then when people are entering new tasks on the task list, even for existing employees, they then have to default to the position title. I.e. Technical Lead 1 or Technical Lead 2, even though they know the person not by the position title but by their name, “John”.

Any additional thoughts there?

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as @M_Schneider explains, creating an own Users/Roles table is a great way to combine the power of the real “Users” functionality with the flexibility of having an own system. I almost always have a “DB Users” table in my docs for that.

I don’t go for roles as display column, just for users. Roles/Teams are a seperate Table and just filled out as a select list. I just have a “Name” column to enter a shorter Display Name. In the Example it’s just the first letter, but could also be something longer.

The “X” is an example for a non-existing user. Could be named “Technical Lead 1”. And if you hire the person, you just need to exchange the Name, Coda User and Location and all tasks will be assigned to him already.

That way for existing employees you will have the name, and for new employees you will have the temporary name.


Subtle change, but a very effective one.