Individual projects are a great way to plan for what you and your immediate team are doing but sometimes this forms part of a bigger picture and it is important to see how your part fits into the whole.  This is where working with multiple projects becomes useful.  You can continue to update your own project plan and then see how this impacts the overall scheme.

There are 2 ways to create an overall project from individual ones.

Insert projects

Individual projects can be inserted into an overall one really quickly but the disadvantage is that if the same resource is used in more that one project it is not recognised as the same even if it is spelt identically.  In some circumstances, this will not be an issue, particularly if resources are more specific to a certain plan but you do risk not being aware of overallocations across them all.

From the Project tab select sub project to insert each project in turn.

Resource pools

Resource pools have the advantage of using one pool of resources across multiple projects which means that a resource in one project is recognised as the same resource in another project and overallocations are seen.  This method does however require more setting up and careful management going forward.

Firstly, a file needs to be created which contains only resources and nothing else.  In here costs, calendars and anything else related to resources is set up.  This is our resource pool.  Then, individual projects are created but without any resources.

The resources are assigned to each of these projects by choosing Resource Pool from the resources and sharing resources icon on the resources tab.  The file that contains the resources must still be open.  The resources will show up on the resource sheet in all the plans as with normal resources.  Any changes made on the resource sheets for the individual projects also effect the resource pool and vice versa.  This includes deletion of resources so great care must be taken as removal would unallocate these resources from every task in every project.

Overall projects can be created in the same way as inserting projects or if the resource pool is opened there is the option of Open resource pool read-write and all other sharer files into a new master project.  This creates a file containing all the individual projects one below each other.

Linking projects

Once the individual projects can be seen in an overall plan links between the tasks can be made in the usual way.  This enables any changes in one plan that effects the other being noticed, thus giving a more realistic projection going forward. Any changes in the individual plans effects the overall plan and vice versa as long as the individual plans are not moved or renamed.

Linking projects is certainly something that should be considered if you are working on stand alone project plans that have any dependency.
Want to learn more about Microsoft Project? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft Project Courses I run.

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