Progress and On-time Status are two very different things

We often receive this question within our support interactions:  “Why doesn’t my % Complete bar match today’s date?”

progress behindThe answer is simple.

Progress is related to time, but progress isn’t necessarily linear, and will likely never exactly match up with today’s date perfectly.  To accomplish this, you’d have to do something like divide the total duration of your task by 100, and then continue to add the result to your %Complete value each day.

Example: Your task is going to take 50 days.  For each day that goes by, you will have to add 2% to your %Complete progress value, in order for the bar to match up with today’s date.

Think of this, as well:  your tasks may have very purposeful and irregular “loading.”  For example, a front-loaded task that takes a year may have 90% of the work done in the first month, then trickle to completion at the end of that year.  In this example, the task would be viewed as way ahead of schedule, after that first month — if you interpret the 90% value as Status, when in fact it’s “on time,” as planned.

Microsoft Project can calculate this value for you, but in order for this to be a real representation of progress, you would have to load resource information and then track actual work completed.  Here is some information from Microsoft if you are considering going down that road.

If you do want to visualize on-time status, why not use a different column for that?  Project has a built-in Status column that you can use.  But if you prefer to manage this manually, just insert a Text column into your .mpp file indicative of status, then use that to drive conditional formatting rules to display that status visually.  Here is an example.

Progress vs. On-Time StatusHere are the steps to map a Text column, and create conditional formatting rules for status:

1 – Click the Templates button to open your most current/recent OnePager Template file.

2 – Navigate to the Task Bars tab

3 – Change your Gantt Bar/Milestone Fill Color to ‘Use one color:’ and choose a color (this will avoid OnePager attempting to color using anything other than the new conditional formatting rules you’ll create in the following steps).

4 – Click Manage Rules at the bottom in the Conditional Formatting section.

CFRs in Template5 – Click Add Rule to begin adding your rules, based on the Text column where you have, or will eventually put, your Status values.  Click OK and then Save and Use.

6 – Create a New Project View using your newly updated Template file and you should now see your new status values driving your colors, based on your new Conditional Formatting rules, from your new Text column.

Have a different idea or thought?  Please send them along!

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