What Project Views, Tables or Fields Can Give Me Insight Into How Far Ahead or Behind The Project is

Frequent Contributor

I have the earned value report and table that just tells me visually or in monetary terms whether my project is ahead, on schedule or behind schedule, but I'm looking for a view, report or table that tells me quantitively in Duration how much tasks and the project overall is ahead or behind schedule.  


I thought maybe the Variance table might help but the variance fields are all based on plan against baseline and my planned dates are usually the same as my baseline dates. I would think that variance based on comparing planned/baseline vs. actuals would be more accurate in whether a project is ahead or behind schedule.


I want to be able to answer the question How many days/weeks is my project  ahead/on/behind schedule?


Any suggestions?

4 Replies
best response confirmed by JBLT-77 (Frequent Contributor)
JBLT83 --

I would recommend you use the Tracking Gantt view with the Variance table applied. Please be aware that the Variance table is NOT showing planned versus baseline. The values in the Start Variance and Finish Variance columns show planned and actuals versus the baseline. If you are seeing 0d values in these two columns, that indicates your project is on schedule. Then again, how are you entering progress in your projects? I personally recommend using a modified version of the Tracking table in which I can enter updates for each task using the following columns:

Actual Start
% Complete
Remaining Duration
Actual Finish

If you modify your Tracking table as shown above, this will give you a "date sensitive" method for tracking progress, which would potentially reveal variance in the Variance table. Just a few thoughts. Hope this helps.

@Dale Howard How do the Start Variance and Finish Variance use Actuals?  According to MS Project the variance fields are Start-Baseline Start and Finish-Baseline finish.  If actuals were used these fields should be using Actual Start and Actual Finish.


As far as how I enter my progress, when a task reached the "In Development" bucket, I set % Complete to 25%, when it gets to Ready for System Testing and System Testing I updated to 50%, Ready for UAT and UAT, 75%, and when its ready for production % completed=100

JBLT83 --

When a task has an Actual Start date, Microsoft Project copies the Actual Start date into the Start field. When a task has an Actual Finish date, Microsoft Project copies the Actual Finish date into the Finish field.

If your tracking method is simply entering a % Complete value, then you will never be able to see late Starts or late Finishes, which means you will never see Start Variance and Finish Variance values other than 0 days. For example, Task A was supposed to start on Monday, but it did not actually start until Wednesday of that week. How would you enter progress on the task in this situation? This is why I recommend you begin using the modified version of the Tracking table so that you can enter Actual Start dates and Actual Finish dates.

Hope this helps.

@Dale Howard Well I wonder why project was designed like that.  What's the point of having Actual Start and Actual Finish fields if the Start and Finish fields always end up becoming "Actuals" fields.  I do agree that updating progress using % Complete isn't the most precise technique but I find it's a good balance between accuracy and tracking effort required.  I'm still able to track when a task actually starts because we also use JIRA, so I get an email alert when the developer changes the status of an item to In Development.  That triggers me to set the % Complete to 25% which represents "In Development", although I get a warning sometimes because project determines not enough time has technically passed for the task to be 25% complete.


I'll try your recommendations though and see how they work.