Adding a Current Tasks Flag to MS Project

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)

Click OK, and then click on the Graphical Indicators button.  This is where you choose the flag to display.

Then click OK.  Your project plan should look like this:

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.

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources (GPHR and SPHR) and in benefits administration (CEBS). In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.

2 thoughts on “Adding a Current Tasks Flag to MS Project

  1. Your MS Project Tips have made my life so much easier. Thank you so much. I’m having an issue in Project 2013 — the ”5d” in your formula results in a syntax error. Any suggestions

  2. Hi Tim,

    I don’t have Project 2013, but I just took a look at the on-line 2013 documentation for the available fields and functions, and compared it to the 2010 / 2007 version. Nothing in the formula seems to have changed, including the notation for five days. Take one more look at the formula you entered, and be sure it matches this:

    IIf([Scheduled Start]100,True,False)

    I’m using ProjDateAdd so it will take into account non-working days, but you can experiment with DateAdd. The difference is that this function separates the interval “d” from the integer number of days. The equivalent would be:

    IIf([Scheduled Start]100,True,False)

    If this still doesn’t work, you can re-create the formula using the Insert Field: and Formula buttons in the formula window. If you try all of this and if you’re still having problems, let me know.

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