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Cross Project Dependencies, Linking tasks, and subprojects in Project Server 2010

Folks, we recently were asked some questions around Project Server 2010 and subprojects – while there are many thoughts on the use of subprojects, let me address the questions and provide my recommendations as well.  Note to determine whether you should break up a large project into a master project and subprojects – check out the helpful guidelines provided by Microsoft at the end of the posting(Thanks Microsoft).  Many users can use training to gain the real efficiencies of Microsoft Project or Project Server – choose your training partner wisely.  Also check out the follow-up blog on Master Project Templates

Let us know your thoughts on the subject and the Questions/Responses provided.

Question #1:  What’s the recommended process for creating a sub-project in PWA-Project Center? 

Response: One of best way to create subprojects from Project Center is to multi-select the projects and then open them using Project Professional to linking the tasks.

Scenario #1:  If the subprojects are already created (and published) – you need to navigate to a Project Center view with the subprojects that you want to link or create in a master project.  Then multi-select both project in the Project Center view (Steps 1 and 2 in the screen shot below).  Yes, you can multi-select in Project Center (via PWA) – just make sure you click on the light-blue cell next the project indicator column for the projects (see screen shot below). Then click Open –> In Project Professional for Editing (Steps 3 and 4 in the screen shot below).


This is how they look in Project Professional as subprojects.

Scenario #2: If the master project is already created (and published) in PWA and you want to add in subprojects.  Open the Master Project via PWA (Open In Project Professional for editing and then follow-up the Linking tasks between two sub-projects below (however save the master project as well). 


Question #2: Linking tasks between two sub-projects, but not in the master.  Further information for the question: Once #1 is in place, we would like the two (or more) subprojects’ schedules to reference tasks from one another project, without having to create this reference within the master schedule. 

The example we will use is:  The QA Group begins the Testing phase (in Project A) after the Development Group finishes the Development phase (in Project B). 

Response:  One of best way to create links between two (2) projects is by creating a Shell Project in Project Professional 2010 and then linking the tasks. 

Following the example above:

  • Open Project Professional 2010 and use the Subproject button on the Project tab in the Insert category (see screenshot below).
  • Insert both projects (Project A and Project B). 
    Note:  Use the Link to Project check box if you want to update the subproject with changes from the master project, or if you want to show changes from the subproject in the master project, clear the Link to Project check box.
  • Expand both Project A and Project B.  To link the ‘Development Complete’ task (task #12 in Project B) with the ‘Execute Test Plan’ task (task # 4 in Project A) – you would 1st click on the ‘Development Complete’ in Project B and while holding down the CTRL key click on the ‘Execute Test Plan’ task in Project A -  Then click the Link button.  (See screen shot below).
  • Then save only Project A and Project B and not the shell project (Project 1).  The easiest way to do this is hit the close button and you will be prompted to save each project.  Remember only save Project A and Project B (as in this case we are not creating a master project rather just linking project tasks in separate projects.
    The first save warning window will ask if you want to save the first project (Project A) – click Yes.
    image The next save warning window will ask if you want to save the second project (Project B) – click Yes.
    The last save warning window will ask if you want to save the Shell project (Project 1) – click No.

To determine whether you should break up a large project into a master project and subprojects – check out the following helpful guidelines provided by Microsoft (Thanks Microsoft), you will want to consider the following:  Note:  The following text was taken from a Microsoft article on Linking Projects.

  • Your project is very large and detailed. If your project contains more than a few hundred tasks, breaking it into subprojects can make it easier to manage. If some parts of the project contain work that is broken down into more detail than others, it may make sense to make those parts into subprojects so that most users see only a rolled-up description of the subproject, but interested parties can view it in more detail. A single file is almost always the faster alternative, but being able to focus on just a part of the project may be worth the trade-off.
  • Your organization is not centralized. In a decentralized or distributed organization, a master project and subprojects give workers more control over their own work than one centralized project file does.
  • You want to increase the effectiveness of your organization's planning methods. If lower-level managers are responsible for, and know which tasks are needed on the project, it may make more sense to enable them to plan their teams' work and then consolidate their project files into a master project. If top-down planning is the norm, you may want to reorganize the initial plan into subprojects when it is implemented so that individual project managers or teams have access to, and control over, their own schedules.
  • You work on multiple projects. Project managers may have a set of projects they work on all the time, whether the projects are interrelated or not. Instead of opening them one by one, you can open all the subprojects at the same time when you open the master project. This approach also makes it easier to generate reports on multiple projects. If the projects are interrelated, the project manager can create task dependencies between tasks in different projects. Creating dependencies between projects makes it easier for different project managers to see how work by other project managers affects their schedules.
  • Some projects are subordinate to others. You can accurately reflect the hierarchy of multiple projects by inserting various projects into other files. The resulting structure of subprojects should reflect the priorities and responsibilities of your team members, as well as the interrelationships between tasks in different areas and the overall deadline.
  • Several people can modify your project. Ideally, a project file is owned, managed, and modified by a single project manager. But often a project is part of a larger program that upper-level managers may need to manage. Project team members can maintain focus on their work by viewing it as a separate file, and the project manager who controls the master project can coordinate each subproject team's schedule.

It may make sense to have the master project's milestones drive each subproject team's milestones in order to keep the schedules coordinated for a deadline. You can coordinate milestones by creating a dependency between the milestones or by copying and pasting the milestone tasks from the master project to each subproject.

  • Your project has multiple stakeholders who care about different parts of the project. When people want to look at different details, project managers can put all the project files on a server and customize different views for various stakeholders. The same project file can be used as a subproject in different master projects to customize the information displayed.
  • You want your subprojects to be read-only. You can retain additional control over parts of a project by moving tasks to a subproject and restricting access to key people.
  • You want to analyze the critical path for each phase in addition to the overall project. Each individual project contains a critical path. Consolidating multiple projects into one master project makes it easy to see the overall picture as multiple critical paths in the master project while retaining separate critical paths for each subproject.
If we can answer any questions on this topic or anything else please contact us.


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    Posted @ 5/7/2012 9:42 PM by MS PROJECT NOW! BLOG
    MS PROJECT NOW! BLOG's avatar

    Trackback from MS PROJECT NOW! BLOG

    Hello Folks, now this is an interesting topic and question:  Can you create a Master Project Template in Project Server 2010?  that follows last week’s blog posting Cross Project Dependencies, Linking tasks, and subprojects in Project Serve ...

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