Microsoft Project Hacks

Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon

As a group, the most popular posts on The Practicing IT Project Manager have been those that explained how to hack MS Project. From managing the working calendar, to adding a current tasks flag, to the project status calculator, to tracking qualitative risk, to tips for crafting your own formulas for custom fields, these articles have proven to be those most read and most commented on by the readers. So, I’ve decided to expand these articles out and collect them into an e-book, in PDF format, for download. For free. And you can also download a sample MS Project file that demonstrates each of the techniques, for use as a starting point. Be sure to download the sample file that corresponds with your version of MS Project.

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20 thoughts on “Microsoft Project Hacks

  1. Thanks Dave for this eBook. I’m new to Project 2013 and this really helped.
    I have a hairy one for you:
    I’m planning out my bachelor degree and would like to track my GPA, as well as the modules, required practicals and any prerequisites. I discovered an online course over at SimonSezIT and it was ok, but I haven’t figured out a way to use formulas to calculate averages based on manually-entered grades in another column.
    I’ve clustered the subject modules into “standard semesters” i.e. when they “should” be done. I won’t be in order as I have to work and some lectures just don’t fit my schedule in some semesters.
    Each module has sub-tasks such as practicals and tests that also need to be passed and which contribute towards a final grade. I also intend to enter my study progress under each task i.e. Physics 101 -> Newtons laws of motion -> 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. along with any required or helpful reading.

    Do you have any tips? Could you point me in the right direction?

  2. Logan, there are some things better done in Excel, and this might be one of them. It sounds like you want to create a summary task for each module, with detail tasks for each practical and test (milestone?), and calculate your GPA based on the grade in a field on each summary task line. While you might be able to create a complex formula in a calculated field to add the score for only those courses completed, I think it would be hard to maintain and even harder to debug. Excel, on the other hand, would allow you to list all of your courses, deliverables, resources, and even apply a little date math, with a lot fewer constraints.

    If Excel isn’t going to do it for you, drop me an EMail and I’ll try to get you going in the right direction.

  3. Hi Dave,
    I would love to obtain any new tips from you each time you have an update into your blog.
    I likes the tips you provide in your blogs as it improves our expertise in using ms project.
    Excellent work!


  4. thanks so much for getting back to me Dave, and sorry for not replying.
    I’ve been letting it slide lately, but getting back into planning properly now. If I do have any issues, I’ll let you know.
    Thanks again Dave!

  5. Hi Dave,

    I tried you formula in MS Project 2016 Server (Swedish version) but it did not work. I get a number of syntax errors (second parenthesis:

    1. Scheduled Duration
    2. IIf ([scheduled duration]=0,(

    I don’t know why. Everything else seems correct

    Any feedback is much appreciated.



  6. Hi Wilton, I don’t have access to that version, but try replacing all references to “scheduled duration” with “duration” and let me know if that works.

  7. Regarding your hack on the signal status indicator – is there a tweak you can help me with for our “overachievers” – those tasks that are schedule to start in the future but have been started early and contain a % complete. Currently, they show as 1 (on the hover), but the indicator does not show up. Am I doing something wrong or is that by design?

  8. Dave, thank you very much for your hacks! I have a problem with the flag of On-going Activities (already started and schedules for the next 5 days), some milestones and activities later than NOW don´t show up with flag. What could be happening?

  9. Hi Ivan, The current tasks flag uses the project calendar to add five working days to the current date. The flag should appear for any task where the Scheduled Start comes before that date AND % Complete is not equal to 100% so completed tasks don’t appear in the list. If you see some current tasks flagged but not others, check the % Complete field to be sure it is less than 100%.

  10. Hello Dave, Im not able to find the link to download your ebook on this webpage. Am I missing something?

  11. No, downloads are disabled. I used the WP-Filebase plugin to manage downloads, and a recent update had a very destructive effect. Once I was able to get my site back on line, I disabled WP-Filebase. At some point, I might find an alternative tool for offering downloads, but I don’t want to risk further damage.

  12. Good Day,
    Would it be possible for you to send the file to me via email ? Thank you.

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