Creating Master Projects & Subprojects

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One of the key skills that we hear about in Project to Portfolio management is having a handle on multiple projects and viewing the integration between projects. Yet this can be a pain point for project managers who don’t have access to an enterprise system like Project Server or Project Online, but want to create views, reports, snapshots or to link project files together (essentially tying tasks from one project to another file).

 

I find that the best way to create integrated activities as well as a snapshot report of work over time is to leverage the Master Project in MS Project.

 

In this article, I’m going to give you a few best practices around creating a Master Project. And in case you were wondering, this will definitely scale if you need; my company and I have managed programs and portfolios of $500,000,000 and upwards using this technique.

 

Benefits of a Master Project:

So why use a Master Project?

  • Master projects give you the ability to create a permanent collection of projects that can be viewed at any time.
  • When viewing your project list, a Master Project will enable you to view the master project and subprojects all at one time in a list.
  • It allows you to create consolidated project reporting.
  • It is a way to link different project files together, meaning you can link different tasks between project through the Master Project
  • You can establish snapshots (non-linked schedules) so you can historically review progress over time vs. trying to have multiple columns of dates and times within a single file.

Getting Started:

Before you begin creating your master project you will need to determine if you want each subproject’s SharePoint site to be available in the master project SharePoint site. If yes, then do not publish the subproject until the master project is published. Once the subprojects have been saved, checked in and closed – but not published – you are ready to create your master project.

 

Step #1: Using Project Pro, create a new blank project and select the sub project tab

 

Step #2: Navigate to your first subproject and click on it one time only. Then click the circle next to the appropriate mode and select insert.

 

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To add additional subprojects, select a new blank row within the master project and repeat steps above.

 

Step #3:  Once you have selected all the subprojects you want to include in the master project, click the file tab to save your master project and any changes to the subprojects as needed.

 

Step #4: The dialogue box below will pop-up and you can name and save your master project.

 

Step #5: The dialogue box below will pop-up; Select “No to all” if you inserted your subprojects as read only.

 

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Now you are ready to publish or save your master project & create the SharePoint Site

 

 

Step #6: Select the File tab from Projects Ribbon

 

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Step #7: Click “Publish” if you are connected to Project Online or Project Server. If you are working on a local file, select Save As and save the master project file into a local directory. Note that your subproject files also need to be accessible from the file that you are using as a Master, meaning that you should save them in a directory where you also have access to them.

 

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If you are connected to an Enteprise version of Project, you will Publish the changes. NOTE that you may choose to not save any changes to local files that were inserted.

 

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Step #8: The dialogue box below will pop-up; Select “No to all” if you inserted your subprojects as read only, or Yes to all if you want to update your local files if you made changes.

 

One of the nice parts about saving and publishing files into an Enterprise version of Project is that you can have Project Server or Project Online automatically create an entire SharePoint site for you connected to your project.

 

That way if you decide to link files, documents, deliverables, issues and risks, you can have them connected and available for viewing or assigning them to the actual tasks in Project.

 

Step #9: The dialogue box below will pop-up; select “Publish” if you are connected to the Enterprise version of Project, or it will present a Save As dialog box for all local files seen in picture #2 all the files that you have inserted.

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Once publish is complete you can close and check master project in. Now you are ready to publish the subprojects (you will need the URL information from Step 8).

 

Step #10: Open subproject and then click check out → File & Publish (choose File Save As for saving local version of MS Project).

 

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Step #11: The dialogue box below will pop-up; select Publish.

Then close and check project in.  Repeat steps for all subprojects.

 

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Then close and check project in.  Repeat steps for all subprojects.

 

Creating Snapshots of Projects:

One way that you can create historical snapshots of single and multple projects is to use the Master Project, but instead of having linked files, choose not to link them.

 

This is an excellent way to not only take snapshots, but in Project 2007 or higher, you have the ability to compare project files against each other to see where there are differences.

 

Here is an example:

Step #1:  Click on the Project Tab and Select Subproject

 

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Step #2:  Once you have selected this, it will bring up the insert Project dialogue box, ensure that you turn off the check box for “link to project”

 

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With the Link to Project turned off, any and all projects will simply be inserted as regular tasks with a Summary task for the top level row of the project.

 

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Notice the standard Project file icon is not there.

 

Each of these files are embedded as if you had copied and pasted them and are not linked to the original file.

 

If you ever want to compare one version of a Project file to another, simply use the Compare Projects button found on the ribbon.

  • If you are in MS Project 2010, it will be found on the Projects Tab
  • If you are in MS Project 2013, you will find it on the Reports Tab

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This screenshot is of 2013.

 

And there you have it. The ability to connect and view multiple files, do resource assignments, link tasks and also to create snapshots all with the same function of a “Master Project”. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or anyone at our office at www.Advisicon.com.

 

Happy Project Management!

 

~Tim Runcie, PMP, MCT, MCTS, P-TSP, MVP

 

Microsoft Project Online – Where did my reports go?!

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Understanding the latest update to Project Online reporting structure

In recent discussions with our clients, we understand that the immediacy that software-as-a-service (SaaS) provides is both a benefit and a challenge. It gives you the opportunity to benefit from the latest and greatest features but it imposes a challenge in that you have little or no time to prepare for the delivery of new features.

 

This is the case with the new library-based reporting structure Microsoft is deploying to Project Online. The new structure addresses one of the most common support questions but it comes at a cost in that your PWA’s BI Center sub-site is no longer the default for reports. The links on your homepage have been updated to point to new reporting libraries, a location that’s more easily discoverable by new and inexperienced users.

 

You have two choices to fix your reporting experience:

1.  Continue to use the same location (simplest solution): You will need to revert the changes made to the homepage’s reporting links to point them to the old location. To do this, follow these instructions under “Continue using your existing BI center site” section
2.  Use the new reporting libraries (recommended future proof solution): This is the best approach as it will ensure that you get the latest features and changes from Microsoft. To do this, follow these instructions under “Use the new Reports library” section.
Unless you have a large number of reports and many users and documents linking to them directly, we recommend that you move your reports and use the new reporting libraries. This is the future-proof solution because, all updates and changes to the reporting solution will assume your reports are in the libraries.

 

We are here to help so comment below with questions, give us a call at: 866.362.3847 or visit us at www.advisicon.com

Growing a Project Management Culture with Project Server & Team Foundation Server

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As many of you know I just recently had a baby girl.  With this bundle of joy, I not only get little to no sleep, but every day it is a new adventure.  Oh the highs and lows of parenthood.  One thing that I am thrilled about is the fact that each day she is learning new things and whether she wants to or not, she is in a constant flux of learning and changing.  Watching her start to see, visualize her curiosity and comprehend that an object is something that she can grasp, then grabbing (and of course putting them right in her mouth), is quite comical.

So how does this have anything to do with Project Management, Project Server or Team Foundation Server you might ask?  Well it struck me, as I was putting Rachel into her car seat for the first time, that not every new experience, tool, safety device or contraption she is coming across is met with excitement or eager anticipation. Read More

Microsoft Awards Two Project MVPs to Advisicon!

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Congratulations to Cindy Lewis & Tim Runcie who were both awarded the Microsoft Project MVP Award

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This is Tim Runcie’s ninth and Cindy Lewis’ second consecutive year being nominated. This is a huge feat for both of them. The MVP award is highly competitive and has to be earned each year through demonstrable knowledge and support for the Project Management community of practice. Read More

Is MS Project Too Sensitive with Resource Overallocations?

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As a Microsoft Project MVP, I feel like I have seen most of the issues, complaints and also the bad behaviors of project schedulers, project managers and senior management when it comes to addressing project deliveries, schedules and resource management. I will say that as soon as I think I’ve seen it all my passion for teaching and educating constantly humbles me as I learn new and interesting issues, approaches and downright crazy things organizations do to manage their workload (demand) and deliver with their resources (capacity). Read More