Actual Date and the Status Date – and the differences between them

Another question that is often asked is what do the different dates fields actually mean…starting with the obvious, the current date means that date for the task as the plan currently shows… Be aware that there are two main dates, the current date is either obtained from your PC Clock or it is a date that is obtained by selection in the Project Information dialog box (from the Project tab in the Ribbon):

However, by default, the Status date (above) is set to NA, but you can (as shown above), chose a date for yourself. An example of the actual date will clarify this:

MS Project Actual Date and the Status Date


Let’s suppose, that we now have the plan approved and we have base-lined it. Now we have a baseline start and finish date plus work and cost amounts for each task. Now let’s assume that a little over a week has passed, and your boss wants a report on progress thus far….


Of those tasks in the past (within the last 9 days or so) that have ACTUALLY started (you do this by, In the ribbon, select task tab, Mark on Track, Update tasks), and you have a field to enter the ACTUAL Start. Or you could have done it by entering a percentage complete which will set the Actual Start equal to the Current Start. Okay?

Now, just suppose you wanted to get MS Project to enter all those tasks that should have started prior to today to have their progress automatically set as of today’s date?

Then in the Ribbon, select the Project tab, and click on the Update Project command. This will set all tasks planned to have been completed in the past to be set as such, including any that ‘straddle’ today’s date. BUT….. What if your boss said, ‘give me a report as of the first end of last week’ then you need to acknowledge the project progress as of the previous week. In which case you can ask project to calculate based on a chosen (left of the Update Project command) Status Date. So in summary: By default, whenever you open a project.mpp file, your computer clock will automatically give you the current date. However, if you want a different date upon which to get MS Project 2010 to calculate or report upon, you can select the Status Date field to a different date before calculation or reporting.

I hope that clears up your confusion about the difference between  MS Project Actual Date and the Status Date

Microsoft Project Masterclass