Posted by: Craig Harding | September 30, 2009

How to Visually Track Progress in MS Project

How to Visually Track Progress in MS Project

The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words can certainly be applied when tracking progress in MS Project. A clear visual cue of how tasks are tracking compared to the baseline can be extremely valuable for identifying trouble areas at a glance.

The following figure shows an example of using visual indicators (Stop Lights) to indicate if tasks are on schedule, slipping, or behind. Green indicates the task is on schedule, yellow indicates the task is 1 day behind, while red indicates the task is 2 or more days behind schedule.


To set this up in MS Project you first have to create a custom field to analyze the progress. The steps are as follows:


  • Click View | More Views, Select Task Sheet, and click Apply
  • Click View | Table: Entry | Tracking
  • Select Tools | Customize | Fields.
  • Choose Duration from the Type drop-down list.
  • Ensure that Duration1 is selected then click Rename.
  • Type the name Days Behind and click OK.
  • Click Formula, select Field | Date | Start Variance, and click OK, then OK again when prompted.
  • Click the Graphical Indicators button then use the chart below as a guide on how to configure the options in the dialog box. You will have to type in the values 0d, 1d and 2d.
  • Click OK to close the Graphical Indicators dialog box.
  • Click OK to close the Customize Fields dialog box. 
  • Right-click the Act. Start column header and select Insert Column.
  • Select Duration1 (Days Behind) and click OK.



Personally I find it much easier to quickly use visual cues to identify tasks that may be slipping or off track. Hopefully you will find this feature helpful as well.






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