Managing Big Project Plans, improving productivity etc... RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have to work on Big Project Plans which have around 2000 tasks. The company  works on a set of similar projects. The plans are  are only Gantt charts without resources. The immediate and primary focus is on 2 areas

    1. Correcting the linkages etc   (and also thereby the critical path)

    2. Improving the way in which plans are created or organised

    I  read a couple of articles online also about the same. I could get a few tips like

    1. Formatting Gannt bars to display task names (for summary tasks)

    2. Organising project in to master project and sub-projects (based on phases)

    3. Use of templates for jump-starting with planning

    I am sure there are many other thins we can do. I invite suggestions from practitioners and professionals about the same

    Ulhas Samant

    Friday, October 20, 2017 10:14 AM

All replies

  • Hello<o:p></o:p>

    A good
    way to link together multiple project plans is to use a central resource pool,
    you mentioned that resources are not currently attached so this would be a good
    way to rectify that while merging together your plans.  It allow you to
    manage plans centrally without duplicating work.<o:p></o:p>

    A quick
    search of Resource Pools should give you easy guide to setting one up<o:p></o:p>

    Hope this

    Friday, October 20, 2017 10:31 AM
  • Ulhas,

    You indicate the plans are Gantt chart only with no resources. If that indeed is your end game (i.e. goal), then waterpistal's suggestion to start with a resource pool is not going to help.

    You also indicate each of your plans are "big" with 2K tasks. I think a project plan with 2000 tasks is more in the moderate range with 20K tasks (and larger) falling into what would be considered a big plan.

    Unless you need to look at all of your company's plans together I would not recommend using a master with inserted subprojects, with each of the plan phases being represented by a separate subproject. A master with inserted subprojects is a linked structure that is prone to corruption. For that matter, so is a resource pool with sharer files.

    If appropriate to the scope of the work described in the plan, I do recommend organizing each plan into phases with each phase being a summary. However it may be more appropriate to organize the plan by function (e.g. performing organization) but the best plan is one that has tasks organized to flow in a logical sequence in a "waterfall" style and that facilitates straightforward managing of the plan.

    As far as formatting, that is entirely up to you but a good rule of thumb is to keep task descriptions short and in action verb form (i.e. describing something being done). Labeling the Gantt bars can help or hinder. Minimal bar labels are very helpful when analyzing the work flow but too much bar information leads to clutter. Color formatting of the bars can also help but overdoing that can bloat a file and/or lead to formatting clutter.

    Templates can be very helpful but only if there is substantial replication of work from one plan to another. Sometimes its better to rough out a plan at a very top level and then refine it to fill in details. One way to do that is to go ahead and create the draft plan in its entirety but only expand the first few months with detail, leave the longer term tasks as draft planning packages that will be expanded into detail as the plan is executed. This allows much more flexibility in a dynamic plan (e.g. engineering development), than creating the whole plan at the beginning and then having to constantly revise future parts of the plan as it is executed.

    Just some thoughts.


    Sunday, October 22, 2017 4:55 PM
  • I thank both of you for your inputs. A few more questions..

    1. Sub-projects with read only option: Will they help in preventing the corruption? More so, if the same sub project is part of different projects? 

    2.   Any other suggestions on updating a project (tracking)  or walking through the maze? Like use of filters.. As i discussed we may not be using resources...

    Ulhas Samant

    Thursday, October 26, 2017 10:16 AM
  • Hi,

    The same sub project cannot be (dynamically) part of different projects

    Gérard Ducouret [Project MVP], Certifié Project 70632, Certifié ITIL

    Thursday, October 26, 2017 2:20 PM
  • Gerard,

    Sorry but that's not quite true. However I strongly suggest that users do NOT dynamically insert a subproject into more than one master. Linked structures in Project are prone to corruption as is and having a complex linked structure (i.e. subproject in multiple masters) magnifies the problem.


    Thursday, October 26, 2017 3:41 PM
  • Ulhas,

    You're welcome and thanks for the feedback.

    In answer to your first question, no, the links that create the structure are the weak point, so whether the subprojects are read only or read/write, the links still exist and therefore the possibility, (some would say "probability"), of corruption is still the same. A much better way to manage multiple files as a single entity is to periodically create a static master (i.e. uncheck the "link to project") option in the lower right corner of the Insert Project window. That will create a snapshot in time of all the inserted subprojects. That static master can then be manipulated for analysis, reporting, etc. yet will not be a linked structure and therefore not prone to corruption. The downside is that a static master cannot be used as a means of updating the subprojects, since there are no dynamic links, and a new static master must be created any time an update is desired.

    If updating subprojects dynamically is a high priority, then one solution is to go ahead and create a dynamic master, do the updating, then un-link all inserted subprojects and save. Note, it is important to un-link the structure before saving to remove the links so they are not saved along with the other changes.

    Just for reference linked structures in Project do work but due to their potential for corruption I do not normally recommend a linked structure to a user. Using linked structures effectively requires an extreme amount of file management discipline.


    Thursday, October 26, 2017 4:06 PM
  • John,

    You're right, I have not refreshed my knowledge for a long time. I remember that older versions did not accept this feature.

    Gérard Ducouret [Project MVP], Certifié Project 70632, Certifié ITIL

    Thursday, November 9, 2017 2:30 PM