Microsoft Project has three ways to progress the schedule. If your resources have a non-uniform production rate then physical % complete type is the best way to progress the schedule.
The simplest way to progress the schedule is to use the % complete type. This progress way considers the duration of the task. It computes the % complete from the duration task time elapsed and the remaining duration task time.
The % work complete type is a little more involved. The % work complete type considers the work in hours that was expended during the duration task time elapsed. The % work complete type is more accurate when the effort is non-uniform, e.g. the resource worked 4-hours Monday and Tuesday, and 8-hours Wednesday. In the % work complete type the resource burn rates are non-uniform, but the work accomplished is evenly distributed; work accomplished equates directly to work expended.
The physical % complete considers the actual physical work accomplished, e.g. in three days effort one half the brick wall was constructed. The physical % complete type is the most accurate when duration expended or work effort expended does not equate to actual work accomplished.
This article introduces the physical % complete type as a more accurate way to monitor actual work accomplished from duration or work expended.
In Figure 1 we have our demonstration project.
This is a simple piping project that has one task, repair piping, and one assigned resource, pipe fitter. Note in the resource usage sheet that the pipe fitter is scheduled to work five 8-hour days on repair piping. In Figure 2 we distribute this work effort unevenly, Monday and Tuesday are 4-hours work days and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are 8-hour work days.
In Figure 3 we complete the schedule by selecting set baseline in the project tab, schedule ribbon group, and set baseline drop down menu.
In Figure 4 we progress the schedule with three days of work.
The % complete computes from 3-work days done out of 5-work days scheduled or 3/5 = 60% complete. The work % complete comes from 16-hours worked during this 3-day work period out of a total of 32-hours scheduled for the task or 16/32 = 50% complete. The physical % complete is still zero; we must manually enter the physical % complete. In Figure 5 we manually specify that the physical % complete is 75%.
The crew worked 3-days or 16-hours and accomplished 75% of the piping repair. Note, however, that this value does not automatically rollup to the summary level. This is because the earned value method is set to % complete, Figure 6.
In Figure 7 we set the earned value method of repair piping task to physical % complete.
Also, in advance project options we set the default task earned value method to physical % complete, Figure 8.
In Figure 9 we reenter the physical % complete value of 75% and note that it now rolls up to the summary level.
Make sure to baseline your Microsoft Project schedule before entering progress. The fastest way to progress the schedule is with the % complete type, which divides the task duration spent by the task duration scheduled.
The % work complete considers the work done during the task duration spent, and divides the hours worked by the task work hours scheduled.
The physical % complete provides the most accurate progress assessment when the hours worked does not equate directly to work accomplished. The physical % complete value is manually entered and based on the actual physical work achieved. Set the earned value method of the respective task to physical % complete when specifying a physical % complete value. Also, in the advanced project options set the default task earned value method to physical % complete. This way the physical % complete value rolls up to the summary level.