Ness, the phases “could” be if you can standardize your schedules and define specific rules for what phase is active (100% complete previous phase or some % complete in current phase). It would be a fair amount of work to roll these details to the project level and then use a calculated field to determine what phase it is in. I guess you could do the same with Project Status but based on the options I’m seeing this could be difficult to determine. I can certainly understand how these fields don’t get updated manually as they should (they rarely do).
I did a quick search to find a blog as this is a bit to document, and what I found looks like it came from Project Server 2003. The good news is that it’s from Ira Brown who’s a good guy and does a good job. The big difference is that you will be creating custom fields in PWA, not inside Microsoft Project. http://www.projectwidgets.com/wisdom/article3.pdf
Hope that gives you enough of a start. Let me know if you have questions.