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How to use the Progress Line to make your plan update easier

When updating your MS Project plan, it is very easy to see what should have been completed or where a task “should” be in terms of completion by using the progress line.  This line shows where the % Complete line on each task should be if it is on track.


The Progress Line in MS Project showing where a task should have progressed to

To display this, first set the status date of the project.

Setting the Status Date

The keyboard shortcut for this is <ALT><P>,<P>,<S> and type the date in.

Now display the progress line using the "At project Status date" option.  Right mouse on a blank section of the Gantt chart and choose progress lines and set it to display at the status date.

Displaying the Progress Line

When updating the plan simply adjust the status date to last night and then scroll down the plan looking for tasks which have the line jagging to the left to indicate that work should have advanced. This makes the update process focused on progress.

It also allows you to quickly and easily identify tasks which should be stating soon so that the team’s readiness to start these can be checked.

Always adjust the start and finish dates according to the current experience of the team or the current set of assumptions so that the plan remains a useful tool for predicting the future - see this blog for more information.

Miles Goodchild

Miles Goodchild has been a Program and Programme Planner, PMO lead and Project Manger since 1998.  He enjoys using MS Office, especially Project, Excel and Visio to make life easier and simpler.  In the course of this he created SummaryPro.  In this blog he shares some of the tips and techniques he has learnt over the years in the hope that they will be useful to you.