Every now and then MS Project screws me over. I use it to manage multiple projects, to solve resourcing for our services organization. I don't manage tasks, but use one MS Project "task" for each project (or each part of a project).

Anyway, that worked for a while now. I had projects (MS Project tasks) have a certain number of days in "Work" (the estimate of the whole project), and I adjusted the "Remaining" work so I always have an accurate sense on when team members become available. So far so good.

But today, out of the blue, when I adjust the number of any task (e.g. a task having 20d in work and remaining, it hasn't started yet) in the Remaining Work columns, the Work column gets adjusted to the same number, too (effectively saying 0% complete). Even though I want to say out of 20d total only 5d are left, it changes the whole task to 5 total. [edit] If I adjust the "% Work Complete" number, it has the desired effect in that it leaves Work as it is and adjusts Work Remaining [/edit]

I am puzzled by how this can suddenly change (yes, other people have write access to that file, too), and fail to find a reason for that (and of course have failed to resolve it).

Anybody got an idea?

2 Answers 2


Remaining work is a calculated result based on what you loaded in as work and the percent complete you indicate. For example, if you originally target 100 hours of work, you complete 15%, it calculates 85 hours remaining. If you adjust the 85 hours, as if you did a bottom-estimate of remaining work or latest revised estimate, and reduce the 85 to 75, it will take the same off of the work column and reduce your 100 to 90. It HAS to do that in order to make its calculations throughout the rest of the tool.

However, if you open up the column called "baseline work", it will continue to show the 100 hours since this is the performance measurement baseline. It will never change unless you re-baseline it. So, it is a good thing for the tool to recalculate your work estimate if you change the remaining work, but you will never lose your original targets in the baseline.

  • Thanks, that makes sense. Still wondering why (I think) it worked before (I didn't change columns). But anyway, I can live/work with this.
    – Thomas
    Apr 4, 2012 at 18:22

Work can be calculated as Actual Work + Remaining Work. It represents the total amount of work needed to finish the task (even if it has been done or it's still remaining).

If you change your remaining work but not actual work, you mean that you need less hours than expected to finish your task, and I guess that's why Work column is changed.

When you change % complete column, it updates both actual and remaining work, so Work stays the same.

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