Once you have set a baseline for your project, (or part of your project if it is very long), and the project starts you will want to track progress. This will help you check what is running to schedule (or even ahead of schedule) or what is running late.
A lot of people track progress by adding the % Complete column to the entry table, checking with the people doing a task at a project meeting and recording percent complete of the task. Two problems with this:
- It doesn’t record what dates the task actually started and finished – it assumes they were done on the date indicated on the current plan
- One week, you’ll be told the task is 90% complete, the next 95% complete, 99% complete etc.
If you really want to track progress in detail, it would be better to use the Tracking table.
Click the View tab on the ribbon, select the Tables command and click Tracking
You can type information into the following columns:
Act. Start The actual date the task started
Act. Finish The actual date the task was completed
% Comp. If the task is started but not finished, the percentage of the work completed
Phys. % Comp. The amount of physical work complete
Act Dur. The actual number of time periods that have been spent so far
Rem. Dur. The number of time periods left, calculated from the planned or scheduled length less the actual duration
Act. Cost This value is calculated from the cost of the resources allocated to the task, together with any fixed costs. If the task is marked 100% complete you can overtype this value with the actual cost paid
Act. Work A measure of the work completed in hours calculated from the actual duration and units of each resource
You could also add in a Rem. Work column which would allow you to record how many work hours your team think is still needed on a particular task.
Using the Tracking table gives a far more detailed picture of project progress than just using the % Complete field. Using this more detailed information helps when you may need to reschedule subsequent tasks. You may be lucky and find that a task finished before its expected date of completion which may enable another task to proceed earlier than planned! If you are told that the remaining duration or hours of work are longer or shorter than anticipated, and you record them , MS Project can work out the % Complete on the particular task for you.
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