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Ask the Experts: When % Complete Won’t Calculate

Nancy asks, “I have been a project controller for about seven years. I have a problem that I cant figure out. My % Complete column has stopped calculating. Also, the Actual Duration and Remaining Duration are not being updated either. Actual Duration is always zero even though its well into the task. So Remaining Duration equals Duration. What would cause that?”

Answer: This one is really puzzling. After reviewing the MPP file sent, I wasn’t able to see why the % completed doesn’t calculate. I have checked the settings which, are all fine. Then I exported the project into an XML file and re-imported it ( just in case the schedule is corrupt); but this didn’t change the behavior (which is a bummer).

I’ve also noticed that some % completed updates actually work. Task 31, for example, works fine, but Task 3 doesn’t work at all in regards to the % complete. It seems that a combination of settings and corruption could create this effect. So here’s how I suggest you make it work. (I assume this isn’t a Project Server environment, but only an MPP file.)

1. Save the project as an XML file.
2. Open the XML file in Microsoft Project and create a new project.
3. Go to tools | option. Within the Calculate Tab select “Updating Task Status updates Resource Status.”
4. Save the project.

Nancy replies: “Well, thank goodness! It’s in a Project Server environment, so I skipped steps 1 and 2. It still worked. Thank you so much!”



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Written by Marc Soester

Marc Soester is the Managing Director of i-PMO, an organisation dedicated to successfully implement Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management (EPM) solution throughout Australia. Marc and his team have extensive expertise in the implementation of Microsoft Project Server and Portfolio Server as well as conducting training in Project. He has more then six years of experience implementing EPM solutions and is Australia’s first and currently only Project MVP (Most Valuable Professional). You can contact him at marc.soester@i-pmo.com.au.

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  1. I had the same problem and this solution solved it. Mine was also in Project Server so I did what Nancy did and it worked.


  2. Thanks for the assistance. Your post helped a lot. I wasn’t displaying the column on my project plans due to not being able to get this to work, and was using TFS to update progress on the project.

  3. When I try to open the xml file in MS Project the program crashes. Does this mean the file is corrupt?

  4. I figured out why the %complete is not changing. I created custom fields for the duration, actual duration and remaining duration so that I could get the summary tabs to sum the hours correctly. When I did that it caused the %complete to not work. Is there anything I can do to fix it other than taking out the custom fields?


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