An improved version of this article is included in my free e-book, MS Project Hacks. Download the book and a sample MS Project file demonstrating the techniques shown here.
Last week, I showed how to add a “stop light” status indicator to your plan in MS Project. It’s a great visual tool for communicating with management, as well as drawing your attention to the tasks that are behind schedule. But if you want to send out a weekly update to your project team, showing which tasks are active but incomplete, or scheduled to start in the next week, it would help to have a flag that identifies those tasks for you. Here’s how to add it to your MS Project plan.
Right click on the column where you want to insert the status indicator. Click “Insert Column” and then select Flag 1. Right click on the newly inserted column and select “Custom Fields.” From here, you can rename the field (I chose “Act” to keep it brief). Then under custom attributes, click on the radio button for Formula. You’ll get a warning message; that’s fine, because you really do want to calculate the values.
Then click on the Formula button, and past in the following:
IIf([Scheduled Start]<ProjDateAdd(Now(),”5d”) And [% Complete]<>100,True,False)
On September 30, Task 2 and Task 3 are flagged because they are already started, and Child Task A is flagged because its start date is within the next week. Note that the calculation uses the project calendar, so it only uses working days. If you have a holiday coming up, it takes that into account. Now, you can filter where the flag equals “Yes” in order to get the active tasks, print to a PDF file, and distribute it to the team.
Give it a try, and leave a comment if you find it useful, or find a bug, or think of an enhancement.