A colleague of mine in Dallas threw this question at me recently, which prompted me to drop everything I was doing and suss it out.  His question was why the Project Summary Task % Work Complete field always equaled % Complete?  As near as he could tell, there are some circumstances where the two should be equal, but this was not one of them.

I immediately leapt into firefighting mode, and in the process, I think I may very well have discovered an interesting quirk in how Project works.  Note that this quirk is quite evident in both the 2007 and 2010 versions of Microsoft Project.

Issue

Regardless of any changes to the schedule, % Work Complete always equals % Complete.

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Upon further examination, the symptom seems to be related to the use of a Budget Cost Resource.  When a Budget Cost Resource has been assigned to the Project Summary Task, and the project is next recalculated by a change or with the F9 key, then the % Work Complete will be tied to the % Complete field.

Possible Resolutions

Option #1: Remove the Budget Cost Resource.  This seems to address the issue, although it introduces a new issue of how to properly track cost buffer.

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Option #2: Calculate % Work Complete using a custom formula.  Dropping the following formula into a spare Text field did the trick.  Don’t forget to set the summary tasks to calculate using the formula.

IIf([ID]=0,ROUND(100*([Actual Work]/[Work])),[% Work Complete]) & "%"

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