Inside Out

Change a link: open, close, and open

When you first enter an external predecessor in the Task Information dialog box, you can't immediately change the link type or enter lead or lag time. Those fields contain the words "External Task" and are not editable.

Click OK to close the dialog box and then open it again. When you click OK, Project 2003 finds the external task information and checks that it's valid. When you open the dialog box again, the name of the external task appears on the Predecessors tab, and the Type and Lag fields are now editable.

Tip Enter external link information in the Predecessor field of the Entry table

You can enter the information about an external predecessor directly in the Predecessor field of the Entry table or any other table showing the Predecessor field. If you want to change the link type or enter lead or lag time, you can do it all in one step.

For example, for an external task with a finish-to-finish task link and 2 days of lead time, you could enter:

C:\Engineering\Design Project.mpp\15FF-2d

There are no spaces between the task ID, link type, and lead time.

Reviewing Cross-Project Links

You can see your external links in the different views throughout your project. Whether they're external predecessors or external successors, by default external tasks are highlighted in gray in sheets. External tasks are also represented with gray Gantt bars and gray Network Diagram nodes.

o p If you double-click an external task, the project containing that task opens and the task is selected.

® You can then review its task information and current schedule. The other project is still open,

5 and you can return to it by double-clicking the corresponding external task in the second project.

Tip Hide external tasks

If you don't want external tasks to be visible in your project, you can hide them. Click Tools, Options and then click the View tab. Under Cross Project Linking Options, clear the Show External Successors and the Show External Predecessors check boxes. This setting applies only to the current project.

To review the details about links throughout your project, click Tools, Links Between Projects. The Links Between Projects dialog box shows information about all external predecessors on the External Predecessors tab (see Figure 15-6). Likewise, the External Successors tab shows information about all external successors.

External task

Actual progress information

Finish-to-finish link with 2-day lead time

Figure 15-6. The Links Between Projects dialog box shows the pairs of linked tasks along with their link types, finish dates, current percent complete, and any available updates.

External task

Actual progress information

Finish-to-finish link with 2-day lead time

Figure 15-6. The Links Between Projects dialog box shows the pairs of linked tasks along with their link types, finish dates, current percent complete, and any available updates.

To see the path and name of an external task, click the task name in the Task field. The path and name appear in the lower-left corner of the dialog box.

There are two fields related to external tasks that you can add to a table or use for sorting, grouping, or filtering. The External Task field, which is a Yes/No (Boolean) field, simply indicates whether or not the task is external. The Project field contains the name of the project to which this task belongs. For external tasks, the project field also contains the full path (see Figure 15-7).

Task Name

External Task

Project

El Discipline Support

Ho

15Design

E Conceptual Phase Completion

Ho

15Design

Prepare conceptual scope and estimate for review

No

15Design

Mobilize on site

Yes

C:tngineering\1 SEngr.mpp

Evaluate business plan - rework as needed

No

15Design

Select construction contractor

Yes

C:)Engineering\15Engr.mpp

Conceptual phase complete

No

15Design

Figure 15-7. You can add the External Task or Project fields to a task table to provide information about your cross-project linking. ¡^

To add a field to a task table, click Insert, Column and then click the field in the Field Name g-

column. o

Whether you add the External Task or Project fields to a table or not, you can sort, group, or filter by these fields. This capability can be handy when you want to see all your external tasks together.

For more information about sorting, grouping, or filtering by a particular field, see "Rearranging Your Project Information" on page 123 and Chapter 25, "Customizing Your View of Project Information."

Sometimes, an entire project cannot start or finish until another entire project has finishec or started. You can set up this relationship between projects by using a master project anc subprojects.

For more information about setting up a master project with subprojects, see "Structuring Master Projects with Subprojects" on page 427.

You can also simply create a task dependency between key tasks in the two projects. For example, if Projectl can't start until Project2 is completely finished, set up a finish-to-start task dependency from the final task or milestone in Project2 with one of the first tasks in Projectl.

Updating Cross-Project Links

By default, the Links Between Projects dialog box appears whenever you open a project file that contains external links that have changed since the last time you opened the file. The Differences field alerts you to any changed information, such as a changed name, schedule change, new progress information, and so on (see Figure 15-8).

Figure 15-8. The Links Between Projects dialog box appears when you open a project whose external links have changed, and the change is noted in the Differences field.

To incorporate changes from external tasks into your project plan, follow these steps:

1 In the Links Between Projects dialog box, review the change in the Difference field.

2 Click the name of the task that has changed and then click the Accept button.

To incorporate multiple changes all at once, click the All button. When finished accepting changes, click the Close button.

If you click the Close button without accepting the changes, the changes are not yet incorporated into the project. As long as there are differences between the linked task information in the two projects, this dialog box will appear every time you open the project.

You can modify the way differences between projects are updated, as follows:

1 Open the project containing external links.

2 Click Tools, Options.

The Options dialog box appears.

3 Click the View tab.

4 Under Cross Project Linking Options, clear the Show Links Between Projects Dialog On Open check box.

If this check box is cleared, the Links Between Projects dialog box does not appear when you open the project. Whenever you want to synchronize information between the two projects, you'll need to click Tools, Links Between Projects and then update links.

5 If you want external task changes to automatically be updated in your project, select the Automatically Accept New External Data check box.

Removing Cross-Project Links

To remove an external link, do the following:

1 Click Tools, Links Between Projects.

2 In the Links Between Projects dialog box, click the External Predecessors tab or External Successors tab.

3 Click the link you want to remove.

4 Click the Delete Link button.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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