# Estimated and Actual Percent complete

• ### Question

• We run several "made to order" projects, and as a result often use best guesses when we estimate duration.  Management would like to use project to help gauge if we are on track to the estimate.  If the programmer estimates 40% complete, they would like like to see/compare if actual hours ALSO estimates 40% complete.  The problem is I can't figure out how to display both estimates separately.  If I change % complete to 40%, it changes the hours, and visa versa.  Is there a way to show and compare what I would like to see?
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 6:46 PM

### All replies

Indeed duration (time span) and work (effort) are two separate parameters in Project but they are related by what is known as Project's work equation

Duration = Work/Units

where units are the resources assigned.

Since work and duration are determined by the work equation, they cannot be "divorced" completely.

However, it is also important to realize that percent complete is duration based and the passage of time accomplishes nothing, other than for love lost or the healing of wounds. Work is the true measure of a task's progress.

In your example, I suggest the following. First, set up your plan with the best estimate of how long you think the task will take (duration) and how much effort you think it should take to complete (work). Once the plan is ready for execution, save a baseline. If the performers (e.g. programmer) give their best guess of percent complete, enter that into a separate text field (e.g. Text1). That metric will be used strictly for comparison.

As far as progress, enter the hours charged to the task into the Actual Work field and adjust the Remaining Work field if appropriate, perhaps based on the performers percent complete estimate. Note that entering values for both actual and remaining work will change the Work field and this is normal. The saved baseline keeps track of the original estimates for comparison. The comparison of actual hours to estimated completion can be viewed by comparing the Percent Work Complete field with the separate text field.

Hope this helps.

John

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 3:41 PM
• Wade, your question is very similar to many others in the same vein that have been asked in the past 20 years or so. A search for the right phrases will find detailed discussions on the topic in various community groups and forums. Try "planned % complete trevor rabey" in google.

Let's clear it up. Typing in % complete should be avoided, ie don't do it. Letting someone tell you that a task is 40% complete, with no other information, is a waste of time. If there is a "percent" then it must have a numerator and a denominator. Those will be useful.

Consider a task that has a duration of 10 days. No resources assigned, no cost, no work. Scheduled to start today, Thursday 28/12/2017 08:00. Saturday and Sunday are nonworking days.
For convenience, assume that the task is something like "lay 10000 bricks".

Assuming that the task will start as scheduled, what is the planned % complete as of the end of today?

In project, project information, set the status date to today, Thursday 28/12/2017 17:00.
Use format, gridlines to display the status date as a vertical red line on the chart.
Switch to the tracking table.
Select the task. Click on mark on track.
MSP assumes (correctly in this case) that the actual start date was the as scheduled start date and that the task was in progress continuously since the actual start and up to the status date.
The task has actual duration = 1 day, and remaining duration = 9 days.

Total duration (or just duration) is always actual duration + remaining duration.
So the % complete, which is actual duration/duration, is 1/10 or 10%.

Similarly, you can get the planned % complete as at any other status date, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Suppose now that it is the end of next Thursday.
Set the status date accordingly.
The task now has an actual start date and some actual duration. If the task actually started as scheduled and was continuously in progress up to the status date, then actual duration is 6 days, remaining duration is 4 days, and % complete is 60%. So you have two facts, actual start and actual duration, and one estimate which is the remaining 4 days. You nail down the two facts first. If you don't re-estimate the 4 days up or down, the % complete is 60%. If you choose to re-estimate the remaining duration to, say, 6 days, then the % complete will be 50%. Note that this is calculated by MSP. You don't need to input it. You simply address the facts in the order in which they occur, and then address the estimate (the remaining duration). You will either leave the remaining duration as it is or bump it up or down, depending on any number of reasons but it will be how long you think it will take to lay the remaining bricks (or whatever it is that remains to be done).

Suppose the task did not start as scheduled. Instead, it actually started on Wednesday, so the actual duration is only 2 days, remaining duration is 8 days and actual % complete is 20%. This can be compared to the planned % complete, 60%.

Any statement of progress must be prefaced with a status date.
Planned % complete? As of when?
Actual % complete? As of when?

Any help so far?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 11:27 PM