By consolidating (consolidated project: A project containing one or more inserted projects [also known as subprojects]. These can retain links to their source projects and may be linked to one another. A consolidated project is also called a master project.) related projects into a master project (master project: A project containing other projects [known as inserted projects or subprojects]. Also called a consolidated project.), you can organize and manage complex projects or multiple related projects more effectively. Learn how to insert projects into a master project.
Note Typically, if you create master projects and subprojects, only the subprojects are saved to the enterprise server. The master projects are only saved on your local computer, unless your organization has specified that they can be saved to the server. Saving the master projects to Microsoft Office Project Server 2003 can result in erroneous reporting data. Microsoft Office Project Professional 2003 and Project Server 2003 have built-in reporting and analysis features that replace the need to create master projects and subprojects.
When you break up an existing project into a master project (master project: A project containing other projects [known as inserted projects or subprojects]. Also called a consolidated project.) and subprojects (subproject: A project that is inserted into another project. Use subprojects as a way to break complex projects into more manageable parts. Also known as an inserted project.), you should consider reorganizing the project by creating logical groupings such as:
- Tasks in separate phases of a project For very large or complex projects, using separate subprojects for each phase (phase: A group of related tasks that completes a major step in a project.) can make it easier to see the details of your project. You can view the critical path (critical path: The series of tasks that must be completed on schedule for a project to finish on schedule. Each task on the critical path is a critical task.) of each phase because it is in a separate project, while in the master project, you can see multiple critical paths (multiple critical paths: A series of tasks that must be completed on schedule for a project to finish on schedule. Identify and track multiple critical paths to be more effective in managing conditions that could affect your project's finish date.), one for each phase. You can still link (linking: In a project, establishing a dependency between tasks. Linking tasks defines a dependency between their start and finish dates. In OLE, establishing a connection between programs so that data in one document is updated when it changes in another.) tasks in different subprojects as you would tasks in a single project, but it may be easier to separate into subprojects those phases with the fewest dependencies (task dependencies: A relationship between two linked tasks; linked by a dependency between their finish and start dates. There are four kinds of task dependencies: Finish-to-start [FS], Start-to-start [SS], Finish-to-finish [FF], and Start-to-finish [SF].) to tasks in other phases.
- Tasks falling in similar time periods It's useful to organize tasks into subprojects when there are significant gaps in time between chunks of work (work: For tasks, the total labor required to complete a task. For assignments, the amount of work to which a resource is assigned. For resources, the total amount of work to which a resource is assigned for all tasks. Work is different from task duration.) in an ongoing project. By using subprojects, you can close out project files for periods of work that are completed.
- Different project managers' responsibilities If you supervise several project managers working on parts of a larger project or in a program with multiple projects running concurrently, give each project manager a separate subproject. That way, you can see the overall progress of the program and how their projects or tasks fit within it while they retain the freedom to work on their subprojects.
- Sets of interdependent tasks Separate related tasks from unrelated tasks and group each set into its own subproject. Keep highly related phases within the same subproject.
- Milestone scheduling If you like to manage your projects by entering important milestones (milestone: A reference point marking a major event in a project and used to monitor the project's progress. Any task with zero duration is automatically displayed as a milestone; you can also mark any other task of any duration as a milestone.), you can create a subproject for the tasks that are related to each milestone. As subprojects, they are easy to roll up (roll up: On the Gantt Chart, to display symbols on a summary task bar that represent subtask dates. You can roll up dates from subtasks to make important dates easily visible on a summary task bar.) to a top level without having to create a summary task (summary task: A task that is made up of subtasks and summarizes those subtasks. Use outlining to create summary tasks. Project automatically determines summary task information [such as duration and cost] by using information from the subtasks.) for each milestone as you would normally do in a single project.
- By work site If work on your project is done at separate sites, you may find it convenient to schedule each site's tasks in a separate subproject. For example, if you are manufacturing a product, work on some components may be done at different factories. You can create a subproject for the tasks completed at each factory and create a master project for the product as a whole. This method makes it easier to see exactly where work is being done at any time, and gives individual managers more control over tracking the work at their sites.
- Related resources Separate tasks into subprojects by groups of related resources (resources: The people, equipment, and material that are used to complete tasks in a project.) so that those resources can manage their own tasks while you stay on top of their status at the project level. For example, the tasks of the engineer and CAD operator on each sheet of a large design/build contract could be in one subproject while the construction manager would have another subproject. The project manager would be able to see all the tasks in the subprojects within the master project.
- Resources assigned to repetitive tasks If the project's task list contains recurring tasks (recurring task: A task that occurs repeatedly during the course of a project. For example, you might define the weekly status meeting as a recurring task.) that are part of an internal process, it makes more sense to allow those groups to schedule their own time and be responsible only for deliverables (deliverable: A tangible and measurable result, outcome, or item that must be produced to complete a project or part of a project. Typically, the project team and project stakeholders agree on project deliverables before the project begins.) or milestones. For example, if the accounting department is responsible for billing cycles and audits entered in the project as recurring tasks, those tasks can be added to a subproject and the manager of the accounting department can assign the tasks to the various accountants working on the project.
- Resources assigned to only one phase of the project When small groups of resources are assigned to or interested in only part of the project, you can put them in a subproject. It more accurately reflects their view of the length of the project because it spans the length of their involvement. This technique also keeps the resource list of the master project limited to the resources that will be involved throughout the project, which can look most realistic when reporting resource information.
- Different budgets If you have different internal budgets (budget: The estimated cost of a project that you establish in Project with your baseline plan.) from which you are billing, it may be easier to view the budget totals if the tasks for each budget are in separate subprojects. You can still view the project cost totals (total cost: The calculated cost of a project, task, resource, or assignment over the life of the project.) in the master project, but you will have greater flexibility in viewing and reporting subproject budget totals.