Actual work in the future RRS feed

  • Question

  • Morning all

    I've realised after updating my project and re-scheduling uncompleted work that project has scheduled actual work into the future.

    I believe the problem has arisen because I have been using the % work complete field to update progress, and that Project does not take the current or the status date into account when you are using any of the % complete fields for entering actuals. I believe (please confirm) that in order for Project to move any actual work to the left of the Status date that you need to enter progress by entering Actual Work values.

    Can someone please give me some guidance on:

    1) Exactly how I should enter actual values in order for Project to take into consideration the status date and therefore leave any actual work to the left of the status date ( I should state that this is a dynamic design project and entering actual work hours is just not workable)

    2) Tell me how I can (quickly) change all the actual's I have already entered into my schedule so that all the progress currently entered is to the left of the status date.

    I understand my method of entering actual values was not correct for project to do what I need it to do. I just need some guidance on the above points so that the schedule I am meant to present is not showing split tasks with actual values in the future. 

    If anyone would also like to elaborate on anything that I have said above please do so, I want as much understanding on the subject as possible.

    Thanks in advance 

    Friday, July 6, 2012 8:27 AM

All replies

  • Hi Jo,

    This is the 2 best and detailed explanation provided on this lingering issue. Please refer :

    Let us know if you need more help.

    Sapna S

    Friday, July 6, 2012 9:16 AM
  • Short, quick answer (and I am sure to miss something).
    Never type in %.
    Use the tracking table.
    First get the facts.
    Nail down the actual start date and actual duration (must all be in the past and cannot exceed the duration from actual start to status date, or else you are reporting actual duration in the future).
    Anything that happened (work, cost etc) must have happened during those actual days of actual duration.
    MSP will calculate % of duration and % of work, and actual work and actual cost ("calculated" actuals), as though they occurred as planned/scheduled.
    Usually, this is not what happens.
    Actuals are always expected to be different from as planned/scheduled.
    So, use the task usage view to update the "real" actual work and actual cost.
    There's more, such as have a baseline set, show the status date on the chart (format gridlines), use the tracking Gantt view with the tracking table.
    Oh! and always re-estimate remaining duration, remaining work and remaining cost so that everything still in the future gets re-scheduled and you get a new prediction/forecast of everything but especially the project finish date.

    Friday, July 6, 2012 10:17 AM
  • Hi Trevor

    Thanks for getting back to me.

    The project that I am working on is a dynamic, bespoke design project.

    Within which several disciplines have a series of tasks.  

    The project is broken down to zones, from A to G.  Each discipline has a large series of tasks within each zone assigned to them. At the end of each zone are a set of deliverables, and these are the dates we must drive against.  All the tasks feed into these deliverables/

    When building the schedule I asked the team to define their individual tasks and their work hours for each task within the zones.  I also asked that they give me, to the best of their knowledge a sequence of performing these tasks.

    Now the project has started and it has become apparent that the sequencing given is not necessarily correct.  They may start a task but realise that they have to jump to a task further down in the zone and then from there they might have to proceed to another task elsewhere within that zone.  The problem being that they do not know this until they are physically working on a task.

    They are not logging start and finish dates and actual work because they are literally starting on one task, then jumping to another, then back to the original and so on.

    Because of this the only way I could think of recording progress was to get them to give me a % work complete for the tasks assigned to them.  

    However, now I see the issue with regards to % fields not taking the status date into account, and therefore scheduling actual work in the future!

    I have tried to be as detailed as possible so that you can hopefully give me some advice on what I can do from here!  Have I handled the set up of the schedule correctly?  Could I have done some different?

    I've really only ever worked in manufacturing so routings were always established, making creating dependencies within my schedules straight forward.

    Please people, any light you can shed on how I create a schedule based on a reactive reality, and that doesn't schedule actual work in the future would be greatly appreciated.


    Friday, July 6, 2012 11:01 AM
  • Jo,

    If I may jump in here and add that you have stumbled on the classis conundrum of the PM world of "planned vs. what is actually happening".  You are not alone and this is why tools like project become invaluable as learning devices.  You have probably set the project up corrrectly, but bear in mind that this was what was planned.  Now, to capture what was done requires some work without having the magical "work in the future" showing up.

    First there are four types of percent complete.  I will not use space here to discuss this in detail, but let's just say that the % Complete field is "schedule-percent-complete" and by itself, in my opinion, the least useful.  Work % Complete and Physical % Complete are better indicators of true progress, again only in my opinion.  The last type of "percent complete" (Cost % Complete), project does not have a field for, but you could make one using custom, calculated cost fields.

    Trevor's recommendation regarding getting the facts is a very sound piece of advice.  Using actual start and actual finish dates sounds easy enough, but you are faced with the issue of workers jumping from task to task.  This is where Actual Work comes into play.  If you have the ability/authority to require that all progress be presented in the form of Actual Work hours on any given task, that information coupled with an actual start date will prevent work in the future from showing up in your schedule.  His advice on collecting remaining duration works on the Remaining Work field as well.

    You have to strike a blanace between managing the actual work on the project and the information you collect in MS Project.  You do not want to become overloaded by allowing the tail to wag the dog. 

    Finally, there should be some sort of review (post-mortem, lessons learned, etc.) wherein you use the actual information from a previous project to plan the next one more accurately.  I am not sure if you do this but it is considered a best practice.  This is how you can create better schedules in the future.

    Good Luck and I hope this has helped.

    Gregg D. Richie, PMP, MCTS; Author, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Official Academic Course Series

    Friday, July 6, 2012 5:51 PM
  • Hi Gregg

    Many thanks for your advice on this.  It appears collating Actual work is the only way for this to become workable, so will have to request actual work from my colleagues from this point onwards.

    I will definitely look at lessons learnt, it's something that I used to do regularly when working with P3 on repeat projects.  This is a bespoke project and my first time using MSP so a bit of a learning curve :-)

    Thanks again


    Monday, July 9, 2012 7:29 AM
  • Hi Jo,

    As a newcomer, you might like to have a look at my free series for beginners on Microsoft Project. Although written for pre-2010 users, if you know 2010's ribbon, you should be able to convert where necessary. See the TechTrax ezine, particularly #27 Progress Data Input, at this site:  or this:
    (Perhaps you'd care to comment and rate the articles before leaving the site, :)  Thanks.)

    FAQs, companion products and other useful Project information can be seen at this web address: <>

    Hope this helps - please let us know how you get on :)

    Mike Glen
    MS Project MVP (97-11)

    Monday, July 9, 2012 8:49 AM
  • Thanks Mike I will certainly be investing some time in your series for beginners this week!

    May I ask another question (open to all for your advice).................

    Our schedule does not have costs in it.

    I cannot for the life of me find a report that visually shows planned vs actual.  I am after this for work and duration.

    I simply want to visually report what we planned, where we are and what we have let to do.



    Monday, July 9, 2012 3:06 PM
  • Try the Tracking Gantt view - it shows exactly what you describe.


    Monday, July 9, 2012 4:22 PM