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How do you measure the completeness of your project? If it depends on whether a physical item is completed (rather than elapsed time or an amount of work performed), you might want to set the Default task Earned Value method option to Physical % complete.

Note:  Other values are calculated from earned value, so your decision affects the entire earned value analysis.

Change the default % complete setting

This procedure affects all new tasks you add after you change the setting.

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.

  2. Scroll down to Earned Value options for this project.

  3. Choose an option from the Default task Earned Value method list.

    • % complete can be calculated by Project or entered directly by you, depending on how you track actual work. This is the default setting for new projects.

    • Physical % complete is always entered directly by you.

Change % complete setting for specific tasks

Use this procedure to change the earned value method for specific existing tasks:

  1. Select the tasks you want to change.

  2. Right-click the task, click Information, then click the Advanced tab.

  3. In the Earned value method box, click the calculation method that you want.

Tip:  If your project has some tasks that use one type of earned value method and others that use the other type, we recommend adding the Earned Value Method column to the view. This makes it easier to see at a glance which method is being used for each task, and it’s also easier to change the setting for each task if needed. In the column header row, right click where you want to insert the column, then click Insert Column > Earned Value Method.

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More about % complete

Here's a simple example of how the % complete values may differ, based on the earned value method you use. Say you’re building a stone wall that consists of 100 stones stacked in 5 rows. You lay the first row of 20 stones in 20 minutes. However, the second row takes you 25 minutes because you have to lift the stones up one row higher. The third row takes you 30 minutes, the fourth 35 minutes, and the last row takes 40 minutes, for a total of 150 minutes for the project.

After completing the third row, you could say that the wall was 60 percent physically complete, because you had laid 60 of 100 stones. However, in terms of duration, the project was only 50 percent complete because you had only spent 75 of the required 150 minutes.

Depending on how you get paid for the work—how the value is earned (by the stone or by the hour)—you may choose the percent complete value or the physical percent complete value to properly reflect this in the earned value analysis.

For more detailed information about earned value analysis, see Earned value analysis, for the rest of us.

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