Duration vs. Manually entered actual work in MS PROJECT 2016


I’ve got a question form one of my Blog readers:

“Hi Nenad,
Based on the example in your previous post please answer the following questions:
1) When you manually updated the actual work in each of the 3 days for Resource in Task to 4, 12 and 20 hrs, Project calculated actual duration as 3 days. As the default is that one working day is 8h, how did Project calculate the Actual Duration to be 3 days instead of 4+12+20 =36h/8h = 4,5d ?

2) How in this case does Project uses the scheduling formula Work = Duration * Units to calculate the total task Duration of 5.5 days?”

OK. I’ll show you that in MS PROJECT 2016!

I will first create a Project with one Task, 7 days Duration:


I am also going to create John as Resource:


Finally, I’m going to assign John to the Task:


Now I am going to Switch the View to Task Usage, and I’m going to add Actual Duration to it:


On the right size of this View, I’m going to show Actual Work field:


and I will get:


I will put in Actual Work:

  • 4 hours for Monday
  • 12 Hours for Tuesday
  • 20 Hours for Wednesday

and I will get:


As you can see there is a special mark on the Right side of the Task:


Now, why is Actual Duration 3 Days instead of 36/8 = 4,5 days? 36 hours were spent to the Task, that is true. Default is 8 hours per day. That is also true. And 36/8 = 4,5. BUT! Once when you decide to put Actual work manually, formula work=Duration * Unit) will not work any more for this specific Task. Why? Because you can put any value in Actual work. So, Microsoft Project does not use formula any more. Instead it recognized that has been some (ANY) Actual Work in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and no matter how much work was spend it says that Actual Duration is 3 days! That is it!

And what about Duration field? It is now 5,5 days. Here Microsoft Project use formula, but partially. Here is explanation how:

  1. Actual Duration is 3 days
  2. At Thursday and Friday, John is supposed to work 8 hours per day. It is 2 days!
  3. At next Monday, John is supposed to work 4 hours. It is 0,5 days
  4. Total is 3 days (Actual) + 2 days (Thursday and Friday) + 0,5 day (Monday) = 5,5 days

To conclude, if you are going to manually put Actual work to the Task, be very careful.

Best Regards!


About Nenad Trajkovski

Location: Zagreb, Croatia Occupation: Project Manager Interests: Project Management and MS PROJECT He was born in Zagreb, Croatia at 1963. After completing his college he started working on projects in different business areas (banking, manufacturing, automotive industry, distribution, oil companies, etc.) developing and implementing ERP systems into different companies. He has got a lot of experience working with people in different business processes and also possesses great knowledge in information technologies and financial services. Today he works as a business consultant, adn Project Manager in PERPETUUM MOBILE d.o.o. Zagreb. He is a regular lecturer for Project Management in MS Innovation Center in Varaždin, Logosoft Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and SEAVUS GROUP in Skopje Macedonia. He was named the best lecturer of WINDAYS 2008 while his lecture was also voted as the best. In addition, he was in TOP 10 lecturers at the MS SINERGY 2009 and MS VISIA 2009, 2010. Shares first place as the best lecturer of KulenDays 2009 and 2010 and PMI Conference 2009 in Zagreb. He is also a regular lecturer in the MS Community. He is a Certified Accountant and a PMP (Project Manager Professional) and a PMI-RMP (Risk Manager Professional), MCP, MCT, and Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist - Microsoft Project 2010. From 01.01.2012 awarded with MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Proffesional - Microsoft Project)!
This entry was posted in MICROSOFT PROJECT, MS PROJECT 2016, PMI, PRoject Management and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Duration vs. Manually entered actual work in MS PROJECT 2016

  1. Olesya Kerasova says:

    Dear Nenad Trajkovski,

    Good afternoon! My name is Olesya. I am a student of Westminster University and currently I am taking my Project Management module. I am very interested in your work “The scope is done! What should I do next? The “Wedding” Project!” there you gave the link to dropbox in order to view the document in MS Project, but unfortunately that link does not work. I would be very grateful to you if you could provide me with this link to your project. It wold help me a lot with my studies. If it is possible can you please share this link so I can continue my studying. Thank you very much in advance.

    Best Regards,

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