Goal: Create relationships between projects

Applies to
Microsoft Office Project 2003
Micrososft Office Project Server 2003
Microsoft Project 2000 and 2002

A single project rarely exists in a vacuum, even in a small company. Creating task 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].) between projects accurately models the relationships between the different projects and helps keep them up-to-date.

 Tip   This article is part of a series of articles that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project. The project life cycle is outlined in The Project Map, where you can find a link to an article about each project management goal. Most of the articles include links to supporting information or procedures that you perform in Project or Project Server. These "goal" articles were designed to help you not only use Project but also better understand project management.

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Overview of a tall building under construction

number 1  Review what a project is     Before you start creating projects that link to other projects, consider what a project is—specifically, where it begins and where it ends.

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A project is an endeavor that is both temporary and unique. It is temporary because it has a beginning, middle, and end, such as constructing a building or designing a new manufacturing process.

A project is unique because it involves doing something that hasn't been done before; that is, it does not represent an ongoing process, such as manufacturing metal ingots on a daily basis. Similarly, a project to create a specific building is unique because that specific building hasn't been built before.

When you link one project to another by creating dependencies between tasks in those projects, you aren't necessarily combining two projects into one. You are facilitating the management of two separate projects.

For example, your corporation's manufacturing environment may dictate that a process in one project depends on the scheduling of a process step from another project, such as the attachment of wings for an airplane being dependent upon a separate process in another facility that builds the wings. Perhaps other tasks in the other projects are also beyond your control.

Number 2  Create a dependency between tasks in different projects     When you have a task that relies on or drives a task in another project, you can create a task dependency to link the tasks in different projects.

Number 3  Change the dependency between tasks in different projects     You can change the link type of an external dependency (external dependency: A relationship in which the start or finish date of a task depends on a task in another project.) from the default (finish-to-start) to start-to-start, finish-to-finish, or start-to-finish.

Number 4  Enter lead or lag time for dependencies between projects     As you can with task dependencies in a single project, you can enter lead time (lead time: An overlap between tasks that have a dependency. For example, if a task can start when its predecessor is half-finished, you can specify a finish-to-start dependency with a lead time of 50 percent for its successor [has a negative lag value].) to overlap tasks or lag time (lag time: A delay between tasks that have a dependency. For example, if you need a two-day delay between the finish of one task and the start of another, you can establish a finish-to-start dependency and specify a two-day lag time [has a positive value].) to delay a successor (successor: A task that cannot start or finish until another task starts or finishes.) task for external dependencies.

Number 5  Review and update externally linked tasks     When you make changes that affect externally linked tasks, you can update them with the click of a button. Or when changes in those tasks affect your project, you can update your project file with data from the external tasks. You can show or hide external predecessors, external successors, or both, to see only the tasks you want.

Number 6  Delete dependencies between tasks     If a task no longer depends on a task in another project plan, you can delete the dependency.