Microsoft Project 2010 : Entering Tracking Information at the Task Level (part 2) - Editing the Task Actual Start Date

3/29/2015 9:17:24 PM

Editing the Task Actual Start Date

Project uses “NA” for the Actual Start date field value until you enter an Actual Start date or modify the %Complete field. Then, the date you enter or the planned start date replaces the NA. Moreover, the planned (not actual) finish date will shift using the planned duration to account for any difference between actual start and what was the planned start. Finally, any resource assignments to tasks with the same scheduled Start date as the task will be assigned the Actual Start date of that task. Microsoft Project then recalculates all assignments to that task and might also impact successor tasks and assignments.


The Task Type conditions you select from the Task Information settings can affect all the tracking fields. Fixed Work, Fixed Duration, and Fixed Units tasks behave differently to data edit changes, so make sure you consider the task type settings as you update tracking data.

However, if the Actual Start date contains “NA” and you edit certain fields, such as %Complete, Actual Work, and so on, Microsoft Project will presume that the original planned Start date should be used as the Actual Start date.


Make sure you enter the Actual Start date if the task does not begin on the scheduled Start date, before editing any of the other fields used for tracking progress. You might see unexpected results if you edit another field prior to entering the Actual Start date.

Editing the Task Actual Finish Date

Just like the Actual Start date, the Actual Finish date contains “NA” in the entry until you edit information, indicating the task is complete. If you do not provide an explicit Finish Date, Microsoft Project presumes the task is finished just as scheduled. If you enter an Actual Finish date, on the other hand, several data conditions might change on your schedule:

  • Microsoft Project replaces the scheduled Finish date with the Actual Finish date.

  • If you have not indicated the task has started, all progress fields that still show NA will be replaced with the scheduled entry and the task will be marked as 100% complete. Be careful if you enter an Actual Finish date that is later than the scheduled Finish date. In this case, Microsoft Project increases the values in various data fields, such as task duration, costs, work, and other entries therein.

  • Based on the Actual Start and Actual Finish dates, Microsoft Project calculates the Actual Duration and changes the scheduled Duration to the same value, and then changes the Remaining Duration to zero.

  • Both % Complete and % Work Complete will be changed to 100% for the task and all assignments.

  • The Actual Work and Actual Cost values for the task and assignments will be calculated, whereas Remaining Work and Remaining Cost will be set to zero.

  • If the tasks were on the critical path, they will be changed to non-critical and preceding linked tasks might also be set to non-critical.

In summary, if you enter an Actual Finish date, Microsoft Project assumes you are finished with the task and calculates all the unspecified actual values for tasks and assignments. You should experiment with examples so you can learn how Microsoft Project behaves in different situations.

Editing Task % Complete (Percentage Complete)

You can edit the task %Complete field to indicate that a task has started or finished, so you need to become familiar with the behavior of Microsoft Project when you perform edits. Whenever you see the %Complete field, you should always mentally replace that name with the phrase “%Duration Complete,” so that you recognize the meaning of this field. Therefore, task % Complete provides a method to track how much of the planned task duration, between the start and finish dates, has been finished.

Microsoft Project will assume that the task % Complete is zero until a task update has been entered—for example, Actual Work, Actual Duration, and so on. %Complete is then calculated with the following general formulas and rules:

% Complete = 100 × (Actual Duration / Duration)Duration = Actual Duration + Remaining Duration

You can either enter the percentage complete yourself or let Microsoft Project handle the calculations by just entering the Actual Duration, the Remaining Duration, or any other field that calculates Actual Duration as greater than zero.

Several changes can occur when you edit the % Complete field:

  • When the Actual Start field is still NA, Microsoft Project replaces it with the scheduled Start date.

  • An entry of 100% causes Microsoft Project to use the scheduled Finish date to set the Actual Finish date.

  • Actual Duration is set equal to % Complete × Duration, whereas Remaining Duration is set equal to Duration – Actual Duration.

  • % Work Complete is set equal to 100 × Actual Work / Work when the default menu Tools, Options, Calculation tab, Task status updates resource status check box is selected.

  • Actual Cost and Actual Work are set the same as the scheduled time-phased work and cost for the time period set by Actual Duration.

  • Remaining Work is set equal to the Work – Actual Work.

- Microsoft Project 2010 : Entering Tracking Information at the Task Level (part 1)
- Microsoft Project 2010 : Tracking Your Project’s Performance and Costs - Understanding the Fields Used in Updating the Project Schedule
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