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Setting and Adjusting Status in Microsoft Project

The status date of your Microsoft Project plan tells you the date through which your project is current. It is usually not the same as today's date, so it's important to watch the project status date and make sure that it is set accurately. The status date can also affect percent complete, project progress, and other status indicators in your project plan. This article provides tips on how to set the status date in Microsoft Project, and how to adjust progress in the project plan to match the status date.

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Setting and Adjusting the Project Status Date

  1. The Status Date is on the Project tab:

    Project Status Date set to NA.

  2. In the example above, the Status Date is set to "NA" which means it defaults to today's date. To change the status date to a date other than today, click on the calendar icon:

    Change the project status date.

  3. The Status Date box will appear, showing the current status date, which is usually today's date:

    Current project status date.

  4. Click on the dropdown to open the date picker:

    Project status date picker.

  5. Click OK, and notice that the project status date has changed:

    New project status date.

Marking Tasks on Track

One you have established a status date for your project plan, you can mark one or more tasks as on-track based on that date:

  1. To get started, select the task(s) that you want to mark on track. If you want to several tasks on track at once, use the Ctrl key to select them simultaneously while you are left-clicking:

    Select multiple tasks in microsoft Project.

    Here, we have selected two tasks in our project plan.

  2. Notice that both of the selected tasks have a % Complete of 0%. Assuming a status date of April 10, 2019, both of these tasks should have already started, so are currently behind schedule.
  3. To bring the tasks back on track, go to the Task tab and click the Mark on Track button:

    Mark project tasks on track.

  4. Microsoft Project will calculate the % Complete value required for the tasks to be on-track relative to the status date:

    Percent Complete Updated.

Basically, Microsoft Project is figuring out how many working days are in the task, and how many of those working days have already passed between the task's start date and the current project status date. The lapsed working days divided by the total working day is how Microsoft Project calculates the percent complete value that is displayed. This value is rounded to the nearest integer, but in reality, the calculation is more precise and is usually not a round number.

In this example, the first task was scheduled to finish on March 14th. Therefore, it should be 100% complete by the status date of April 10th.

The second task was scheduled to start on March 15th, but isn't scheduled to finish until June 6th. First, Project calculates the number of working days between the start date of March 15th and the project status date of April 10th. Between these two dates, 19 work days have elapsed. The total duration of the task is 60 workdays, so percent complete is calculated as 19 / 60 = 31.67%, which rounded up to 32% in Microsoft Project.

Adjusting Overall Project Progress Based on the Status Date

In the previous section, we showed you how to update the status of a few tasks to ensure that they are on-track, compared to the project status date. If you prefer to update the status of your entire project, and not just selected tasks, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Project tab and click on Update Project:

    Click on Update Project to update your entire project plan to be on track with the status date..

  2. When the Update Project form appears, choose Update Work as Complete Through and make sure that you have also selected Set 0% - 100% Complete. Otherwise, you won't get the precise percent complete adjustment that you are looking for.

    You also want to make sure that you have seleted the Entire Project option if you want to adjust the status of all tasks in your project plan:

    Adjust the percent complete of all tasks to line up with a status date.

  3. The percent complete values for all of the tasks in your project plan will be adjusted based on the project status date:

    Adjusted percent complete.

In this example, tasks that are already supposed to have finished by the project status date will be marked as 100%. Tasks that are not yet scheduled to start will stay at 0%.

Any tasks that are supposed to have already started, but are still not finished, will have their percent complete calculated as the number of elapsed workdays divided by the total number of scheduled workdays.

Rescheduling Incomplete Work

A more accurate way to adjust your project plan to match the status date is to reschedule imcomplete work instead of simply marking things as up-to-date and on-track. To do this:

  1. Start with a Microsoft Project plan that has several tasks where the work is not yet complete and is behind schedule. In this example, the first two tasks have some progress, but are still behind schedule compared to the project status date. The remaining three tasks haven't started at all. The third task should have started, so is behind schedule. The remaining two tasks aren't scheduled to start, so aren't late yet:

    Microsoft Project plan with incomplete tasks that are behind schedule.

  2. On the Project tab, choose Update Project:

    Click on Update Project to reschedule uncompleted work.

  3. When the Update Project screen pops up, choose Reschedule uncompleted work to start after:

    Reschedule uncompleted work

    If you plan to start working on the incomplete tasks as of the project status date, you can leave the date selector as-is. However, you can also push the date selector out to a future date without having any effect on the project status date.

  4. Project will shift and split the tasks as follows:

    Shifted and Split Tasks in Microsoft Project

When rescheduling uncompleted tasks, Project follows these rules:

  • No changes are made to percent complete. Only dates are adjusted.
  • Tasks that had already started will be split, with the previously-completed work staying where it was and the remaining work pushed out to resume on or after the new date. There will be a gap in the schedule between when work stopped and then restarted.
  • Tasks that hadn't started yet will be shifted completely without any splitting.
  • Dependencies will continue to be honored, so a task that is split or shifted may not start precisely on the new date if it depends on another task to finish before it can start. Therefore, the rescheduled date should really be considered the earliest reschedule date, not necessarily the exact rescheduled date.

Last Modified: April 29, 2019