Consolidating Projects

When you're faced with a complex problem, finding the solution typically becomes easier if you can simplify the problem. Similarly, when you need to manage a complex project with many tasks, you may find it easier to organize the process if you deal with a limited number of tasks at one time.

Microsoft Project makes it easy for you to take this approach to planning large, complex projects. By using Project's consolidation features, you can create subprojects, which you can think of as the tasks that constitute one portion of your large project. When you create a subproject, you save it as a separate project file. You can assign resources and set up each subproject with links and constraints — just as if it were the entire project. When you need to view the bigger picture, you can consolidate the subprojects into one large project. When you consolidate, you insert one project into another project; therefore, subprojects are also called inserted projects.

In This Chapter

Consolidating projects

Understanding consolidated projects and dependencies

Viewing multiple projects

Using multiple critical paths

Sharing resources among projects

Consolidation changed from Project 95 to Project 98. In Project 95, many project tools, such as copying and pasting, didn't work in consolidated projects. Project 95 used two techniques to work with multiple projects: consolidation, and master projects and subprojects. By using the second technique, you created a link between a placeholder task in the master project and the subproject.

In Project 98, you no longer needed to think about master projects versus subprojects. Subprojects still existed as separate projects, but you included subprojects in a consolidated project. In addition, Project 98 provided much greater flexibility in the consolidated project, but sacrificed performance. Project 2000 and Project 2003 handle consolidation in the same way as Project 98, but Project 2000 considerably improved consolidation performance over Project 98. You can think of the consolidated project as the host project into which you insert subprojects.

When you work in a consolidated project, you can focus on just the desired portion of the project. Subprojects appear as summary tasks in the consolidated project, and you can use Project's outlining tools to hide all tasks that are associated with any subproject.

From the consolidated project, you can view, print, and change information for any subproject — just as if you were working with a single project.

Note If you're a Project Professional user who also uses Project Server, you may be won dering if consolidation applies to you. While views in Project Server can "roll up" project information, you still need consolidation techniques if you want to see one critical path across all consolidated projects. Also, I describe resource pooling in this chapter. This concept applies more to Project Standard users than Project Professional users, who can use Enterprise Resources in Project Server.

See Chapter 3 for more information on outlining.

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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