Manually Entering Task Progress in Microsoft Project

//Manually Entering Task Progress in Microsoft Project

Manually Entering Task Progress in Microsoft Project

If you are a project manager who manages desktop-only projects with Microsoft Project, you need to know how to manually enter task progress in your project schedules. And if you are a project manager in an organization that uses Project Online or Project Server, but your organization does not use the Timesheet page or Tasks page in Project Web App, you also need to know how to manually enter task progress in your project schedules.

Although there are a number of methods for manually entering task progress in a Microsoft Project schedule, I recommend only two approaches to keep the process as simple as possible. These approaches are:

  • Enter progress at the task level
  • Enter progress at the resource assignment level

In this blog post article, I discuss each of these approaches individually.

Entering Progress at the Task Level

The simplest method for entering progress is at the task level using the % Complete value for each task. Using this method, you must ask your team members to estimate their cumulative percentage of work completed to date for each task that occurred during the previous reporting period. Keep in mind, however, that there are two primary limitations for using this method of tracking:

  • This tracking method is not date sensitive. When you initially enter a % Complete value for a task, the software assumes that the task started as currently scheduled, even if it started late in reality. If you mark a task as 100% complete, the software assumes the task finished as currently scheduled, even if it finished late in reality.
  • This tracking method does not allow team members to provide their Estimate To Complete (ETC) for any task. Without the ETC information, the software has no knowledge of whether the task will take longer than its original planned Duration value.

To work around these two limitations, you should gather the following progress information for each task by asking your project team the following questions:

  • Actual Start date – “If you started work on a new task this week, what day did you actually start?”
  • Percent Complete – “As a percentage, how much work have you completed on the task to date?”
  • Remaining Duration – “How many days of work do you think you have left on the task?”
  • Actual Finish date – “If you completed work on a task this week, what day did you actually finish?”

Based on the answers provided by your team members for the preceding questions you can manually enter actual progress by completing the following steps in your Microsoft Project schedule:

  1. Apply the Gantt Chart view.
  2. Click the View tab to display the View ribbon.
  3. In the Data section of the View ribbon, click the Tables pick list button and select the Tracking table.
  4. Widen the Task Name column, as needed.
  5. Drag the split bar to the right of the % Complete column.
  6. “Drag and drop” the % Complete column to the right of the Actual Start column.
  7. “Drag and drop” the Remaining Duration column to the right of the % Complete column.
  8. Drag the split bar to the right edge of the Actual Finish column.
  9. Enter the actual start date of each task in the Actual Start column.
  10. Enter the estimated percentage of completion for each task in the % Complete column.
  11. Enter the number of days left for the task (the Estimate To Complete) for each task in the Remaining Duration column.
  12. When the team members complete work on task, enter the actual completion date for the task in the Actual Finish column.

Using the preceding steps, you never need to enter 100% in the % Complete column for any task. Instead, when you enter a date in the Actual Finish column, Microsoft Project automatically calculates a 100% complete value in the % Complete column. Also keep in mind that after you enter the % Complete value, if you then increase the Remaining Duration value, Microsoft Project automatically reduces the % Complete value. If you decrease the Remaining Duration value, Microsoft Project automatically increases the % Complete value. This is because the % Complete field is a Duration-driven field in which the values represent the percentage of the Duration completed to date.

Figure 1 shows the Tracking table set up to track progress at the task level, and with progress entered for the first two tasks. Notice that the Design task is 100% complete with both an Actual Start date and an Actual Finish date entered for the task. Notice that the Build task is only 50% complete, with an Actual Start date and a % Complete value entered, with no adjustment to the Remaining Duration value, and with no Actual Finish date entered yet.

Figure 1:   Progress entered at the task level

Figure 1: Progress entered at the task level

Entering Progress at the Resource Assignment Level

The preceding process works well when you enter progress on tasks with only a single resource assigned. If you want to enter progress on tasks with multiple resources assigned, and want to enter the progress for each assigned resource individually, you can use a variation of the preceding set of steps. To enter progress at the resource assignment level, complete the following steps in your Microsoft Project schedule:

  1. Apply the Task Usage view.
  2. Click the View tab to display the View ribbon.
  3. In the Data section of the View ribbon, click the Tables pick list button and select the Tracking table.
  4. Widen the Task Name column, as needed.
  5. Drag the split bar to the right of the Physical % Complete column.
  6. Right-click on the Actual Finish column header and select the Insert Column item on the shortcut menu.
  7. In the list of available task columns, select the % Work Complete column.
  8. Right-click on the Actual Finish column header and select the Insert Column item on the shortcut menu again.
  9. In the list of available task columns, select Remaining Work column.
  10. Drag the split bar to the right of the Actual Finish column.
  11. Enter the actual start date in the Actual Start column for each assigned resource on a task.
  12. Enter the estimated percentage of completion in the % Work Complete column for each assigned resource on a task.
  13. Enter the number of hours of work left in the Remaining Work column for each assigned resource on a task.
  14. When the team members complete work on task, enter the actual completion date in the Actual Finish column for each assigned resource on a task. If all assigned resources finished the task on the same day, you could enter the Actual Finish date for the task instead of entering it for each assigned resource, by the way.

Using the preceding steps, you never need to enter 100% in the % Work Complete column for any task. Instead, when you enter a date in the Actual Finish column, Microsoft Project automatically calculates a 100% complete value in the % Work Complete column. Also keep in mind that after you enter the % Work Complete value, if you then increase the Remaining Work value, Microsoft Project automatically reduces the % Work Complete value. If you decrease the Remaining Work value, Microsoft Project automatically increases the % Work Complete value.

Figure 2 shows the Tracking table set up to track progress at the resource assignment level, and with progress entered for the first two tasks. Notice that the Design task is 100% complete with both an Actual Start date and an Actual Finish date entered for each resource assigned to the task. Notice that the Build task is only 38% complete, with an Actual Start date and a % Work Complete value entered for each resource, with no adjustment to the Remaining Work values, and no Actual Finish dates entered yet. Notice that Microsoft Project calculated the % Work Complete value of 38% for the Build task as the average of the values entered for Randy Parker (50%) and Ron Appel (25%).

Figure 2: Progress entered at the resource assignment level

Figure 2: Progress entered at the resource assignment level

NOTE: In the customized Tracking table shown in Figure 2, I right justified the data in the % Work Complete and the Remaining Work columns. To right justify the data in any column, right-click in its column header and select the Field Settings item on the shortcut menu. In the Field Settings dialog, click the Align data pick list and select the Right item. Optionally change the value in the Width field to widen the column, and then click the OK button.

By |2019-10-10T12:13:50+00:00October 10th, 2019|Microsoft Project Tips|
Dale Howard, Microsoft Project MVP
Dale Howard is the Director of Education for PROJILITY. He has used Microsoft Project since version 4.0 for Windows 95 and has used the Microsoft PPM tool since the first version was released with the name, Project Central, in the year 2000. He is the co-author of 21 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He is currently one of only 28 Microsoft Project MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) in the entire world and one of only 6 in the United States.

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