Author: Dave Litten

David Litten spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He has created a wide range of project-related downloadable HD video training products under the Primer brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management. Learn more about his Primer Products.

Percentage Complete in MS Project

What Does Percentage Complete Actually Mean

Understanding Percentage Task Duration Complete and Percentage Task Work Complete in Microsoft Project 2021 Task work in Microsoft Project offers an extensive suite of features to help project managers handle their workloads. However, understanding these features may require a bit of navigation. Let’s delve into this and try to understand the key aspects in more detail. If you’re managing a project, you’re likely familiar with the “90% done” response from your team when you inquire about their task status. Humans tend to make estimations, but they’re not always accurate. So, how can we achieve more precise task progress reports? The journey to accurate task tracking begins with careful planning. When you’re setting up tasks, it’s advisable not to request a duration estimate from your team. Instead, ask them to describe the work activities involved in the task, determine the necessary resources, and calculate the associated costs. This information allows you to make a more accurate task duration estimate. Once your task schedule is ready, including resource allocation and costs, it’s time to start the project. At this stage, tracking progress is crucial. The method you choose to input progress data in your plan should provide a sufficient level of control. Microsoft Project makes it easy for you to record progress. For simple tasks, the software offers quick access buttons to set task completion levels at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% on the task tab of the ribbon. For more detailed tracking, you can double-click on a task and input any specific completion percentage between 0% and 100%, giving you greater control and accuracy. Yet, when tracking progress, it might be best to inquire about the work effort your team has expended and the remaining work effort on the task. Work effort is usually measured in hours, and Microsoft Project allows you to input actual and remaining work in the work table. As you input the work effort, Microsoft Project automatically computes the percentage of work complete. However, it’s crucial to distinguish between task percentage complete and work percentage complete. A task has a duration (typically measured in days) and work (usually measured in hours) associated with it when you assign resources. For instance, consider a 10-day task with 2 resources assigned, amounting to a total of 160 hours of work. The distribution of work might not be linear in time – the first 5 days might only have 60 hours of work planned. At the end of the first 5 days, if your team is on track, the percentage complete field in Microsoft Project will display 50% complete, representing percentage DURATION complete. In contrast, the percentage WORK complete will be 60/160, translating to 37.5% complete. Real-world projects often have non-linear work distribution, which is why Microsoft Project provides both fields – task percentage complete and work percentage complete. Understanding and utilizing these features can drastically improve your project management efficiency and accuracy.”