Creating Subprojects and Master Projects

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Creating Subprojects and Master Projects

There are advantages to managing a large or complex project in smaller, separate files: Computing speed, file sharing among co-workers , and faster printing and transmitting of smaller files are a few of them. When the time comes to review, analyze, and report on the plan across all the individual files, you can create a master project/subproject structure to combine the files of interest in one window. You can save this combined file and use it again later; you do not have to re-create it for each use. A further advantage of this approach is that the master project/ subproject structure can be multi-tiered. This might be helpful in an organization that needs to combine projects at a departmental level, then at a functional level, then at a regional level, and finally at a national (or even international) level.

You can use two methods for combining files into a master/subproject structure. The first methodusing the New Window command was discussed earlier in this chapter, in the section "Displaying Tasks from Different Files in the Same Window." The following sections describe a second method for combining filesinserting files stored on disk into a new master project plan. Key master file issues, such as maintaining the combined file, removing a subproject, and linking between combined files, are also discussed in the following sections.

Combining Projects into One File

If a project that you want to combine with another is not already open , or if you want to insert a project at a specific point in a project, you select Insert, Project. To insert an entire project into another project, follow these steps:

  1. Select the task row where the new project should be inserted. The existing task in that row will be moved down.

  2. Choose Insert, Project to access the Insert Project dialog box (see Figure 16.7).

    Figure 16.7. You can use the Insert Project dialog box to identify the file to be inserted into another.


  3. Select the file to be inserted.


    If you want to insert multiple files at the same place in a master project file, click to select them in the order you want them displayed in the master file. To select multiple project files, select the first one and then extend your selection by holding down the Ctrl key while you select the other files. If you simply want to select a block of files that are all adjacent, use the Shift key to select the last file, to automatically select all the files between the first and last files you selected.

  4. Use the Insert drop-down list on the Insert Project dialog box to select the Insert Read Only option to insert a read-only copy of the file. You can make changes to the source project in the master project, but you can't save changes back to the source copy. This is useful, for instance, if you want to allow a director or senior manager to see the effect of changes he or she would like to implement. That person cannot actually make the changes; he or she needs to discuss them with the individual project managers who are able to make changes in the source project. This way, project managers do not find that their projects change without their knowledge.

  5. Create a link to the inserted project by choosing the Link to Project option. Changes to inserted and master files are also made to the other file, on a bidirectional basis. If the file is inserted as read-only, the update of the files from source project to master project works, but updates can't occur in the other direction. (Even if the files are inserted with full read-write capability, you still have the option of not saving changes and closing the files.)

  6. Click OK when you are finished. The tasks of the inserted project are now available in the original file as if they had been entered there.


The ODBC button in the Insert Project dialog box allows you to insert a file that is stored in a database. This topic is covered in detail in Chapter 18, "Copying, Pasting, and Inserting Data with Other Applications." However, if you plan on using Project Professional and Server then the ODBC link will not apply.

Working with Inserted Projects


You can see information about an inserted project by choosing the Advanced tab in the Task Information dialog box. You access the dialog box by using the Task Information button in the Standard toolbar, or double-clicking the Project Summary Task that represents the inserted project. When you access the Task Information dialog box for a task that represents an inserted project, the title of the dialog box changes to Inserted Project Information, and the Advanced Tab displays details of the source project file. Notice in Figure 16.8 that the title bar indicates that this is an inserted project.

Figure 16.8. The Task Information dialog box for an inserted project displays information about the link to the source file and offers access to project information for that file.


You can choose whether to maintain a link with the individual source files. The Link to Project check box determines whether changes made in this file should be linked back to the original file. If it is checked, any content- related changes that you make to the new file are also made in the original source file. By default, there is a link between the inserted project and the original file that it came from. Regardless of your choice, any changes made to the formatting in the new window are not reflected in the source files. The obvious advantage of this is that you can make formatting changes in the new window for the purpose of printing reports for different audiences, without having those changes reflected in the original working file.

By default, files are opened as read-write, but you can change that to read-only. Select the Read Only check box if there is a link maintained and you prefer to protect the original source files. If the inserted file is set to read-only, the icon in the Indicators column of the Gantt Chart view shows an exclamation point and the message indicates that the file is read-only.

You can use the Browse button to change the link to another file or to restore the link when the file has been moved or renamed . (Upcoming sections in this chapter provide detailed information on moving, deleting, and renaming inserted projects.)

You can access the Project Information dialog box for the source file by clicking the Project Info button in the Inserted Project Information dialog box.


The reference to the location of the original source file is stored in the Subproject field for the inserted project task. If the Read Only check box is selected, Yes is stored in the Subproject Read Only field. You see these fields only if you add them to a table.

Project 2003 stores the relative path to linked or inserted projects. In previous versions of Project, the absolute path to these files was stored, causing users to save files to inconvenient locations simply to maintain links.


It's important to note that, when you combine project files by choosing Window, New Window or Insert, Project, these project files are only displayed together in one windowthey are not linked to each other.

You can create inserted projects at any level of an outline, and you can insert a project into a project that is itself inserted into another project. Microsoft Project checks to be sure that no circular references exist within the levels.

Breaking a Large Project Apart by Using Inserted Projects

You can create inserted projects by moving tasks from a large project into new project files and then defining the new files as inserted projects. Some preparation is involved in making the move as easy and successful as possible.

If you move one or more tasks that are linked to tasks that will remain behind, you will lose the links and have to redefine them later. It is easier to copy the tasks that are going to become a new project file than cut them, save the copied tasks as a new file, insert the new project file, change the links, and then delete the original copied tasks.

To move tasks to a new project file, follow these steps:

  1. Select the task IDs of the tasks that you plan to move. This ensures that all fields will be selected and that all relevant data will be copied. If the tasks to be moved include a summary and all the subtasks indented underneath it, you need only select the summary task.

  2. Choose Edit, Copy Task (or press Ctrl+C) to copy the task data to the Clipboard.

  3. Choose File, New to create a new project file. If the Prompt for Project Info for New Projects check box is checked on the General tab of the Options dialog box, the Project Information dialog box opens.

    For more information on creating a new project file, see "Supplying Information for a New Project," p. 56 .

  4. With the Name field of the first task selected in the new file, choose Edit, Paste (or press Ctrl+V). The task data is copied.

  5. Choose File, Save to save the new file. Fill in the dialog box to save the file and click OK.

  6. Return to the original file by choosing the filename from the list at the bottom of the Window menu. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+F6 until the project document reappears.

  7. Select the task in the row below where the inserted task will be placed, and create the inserted project as described in the section "Working with Inserted Projects," earlier in this chapter.


Maintaining a library of subprojects allows you to incorporate the best practices of an organization and incorporate standard methodologies into all your projects. These linked methodologies can be previously completed projects, and they can also include the best lessons learned.

Maintaining Inserted Projects

You can replace an inserted project by changing the name in the Source Project area on the Advanced tab of the Task Information dialog box. You can use the Browse button to locate the file instead of typing it in. If you simply delete the filename, you sever the link between the two projects, and the inserted project task becomes a single task with the default one-day duration. If the new filename exists, it is used as the source project file instead of the one just replaced . If you type the name of the file to be inserted and Project can't find the file, a warning message appears, as shown in the title bar of Figure 16.9.

Figure 16.9. You need to re-identify an inserted project when the original is moved, deleted, renamed, or simply can't be found.


You need to be careful about moving or renaming projects that are used as inserted projects. When you open a project that contains an inserted project, if Microsoft Project can't find the file, it again displays the message shown in the title bar in Figure 16.9. To maintain the link, you would need to locate the file before proceeding.


You are not made aware of problems with linking to lost inserted project files until the outline for the file is expanded in the combined file. A combined file always opens collapsed down to a single summary line for each inserted project, even if the outline was expanded when the combined file was last saved and closed.


If you will be maintaining multiple subprojects rolled up into a master project, you should invest time into investigating how best to organize and catalog the repository of files. As with your desk filing cabinet or computer hard drive, creating the appropriate filing system can save a lot of time in organizing your files as well as in maintaining the linkages built into a master project.

Identifying Tasks That Are Inserted Projects

In addition to the indicator for inserted projects in the Indicators column, you can use the Subproject File field, where the name of the inserted project is stored. You can design a table to display that field and thereby identify the tasks.

Each Subproject File field entry must contain a filename and extension that are separated by a period. Figure 16.10 shows a filter definition for displaying inserted projects by filtering the Subproject File field for entries that contain a period. You can use the contains test and enter a period as the value to look for.

Figure 16.10. You can filter for inserted projects by searching the Subproject field for a period.


For more information on filter definitions, see "Creating Custom Filters," p. 859 .

Deleting Inserted Projects

You delete an inserted project in much the same way as you delete a summary task. Simply select it and then press the Delete key on the keyboard, or right-click the task ID and choose Delete Task from the shortcut menu. You are warned about deleting more than one task, with the warning message shown in Figure 16.11. If you are using the Office Assistant, the warnings appear in the Office Assistant's question box rather than in the standard Windows dialog box.

Figure 16.11. Deleting an inserted project deletes all the tasks that were part of that project.


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Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

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