Integrating multiple projects into a program plan RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    When we integrate multiple large project plans into a program plan, the program plan size gets huge. Managing the program plan becomes a problem due to file size and the number of activities included. There is no possibility to use Project server in the environment. Is there a way we can reduce the file size of the integrated program plan? The program manager would like to view summary level activities of child projects (deleting the child project after integrating into program plan shows the linked tasks only - but summary level tasks are not visible).

    Also if we adopt rolling wave planning approach, keeping detailed level of tasks in the immediate phase and subsequent phase tasks at high level, the program plan size starts off as manageable to begin with. However, as we progress into sunsequent phases, the file size increases. In such case, for activities which are 100% complete for earlier phases, is there a way to remove these from the program plan (to reduce file size) without impacting the overall schedule?

    Appreciate any pointers to help address above issues; thanks !

    • Edited by venkatbabu Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:36 AM
    Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:30 AM

All replies

  • Are the project managers attempting to update their projects through the program plan or are they updating their individual projects?

    What are you using the integrated program plan for?  Is it possible to create the program plan only when needed and not linking into the individual project plans?  By creating the program plan only when needed, you may also select which individual projects to include - if a project is complete, do not include that project.

    I'm afraid there is no method of selectively integrating tasks from projects - the Insert Project command is an all or nothing option.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:31 PM
  • Hi venkatbabu --

    I normally would not recommend this technique since linking project summaries can be dangerous if not done carefully, but you can make the phases / summaries from the individual projects appear in a "program overview" schedule by linking them to some milestones in the "program overview". This technique involves the following steps:

    • Create a new "program overview" project schedule that contains a milestone for each phase or summary that you would like to see.
    • Create a master project that includes the "program overview" project and the other projects containing phases or summaries that you want to see.
    • Create a simple Finish-to-Start (FS) dependency / link from the desired summary to its corresponding milestone in the "program overview" project.

    When you open the "program overview" project by itself, it should display the summaries from the other projects as external predecessors.

    If you do not want to see the milestones in the "program overview" project (since they are only there so that you can display external predecessors), then you can create a filter to hide them.

    Good luck!

    -- tz

    Tony Zink | Vice President, EPMA | | Blog: | Training:

    Thursday, August 29, 2013 3:19 PM
  • venkatbabu,

    Many years ago we had a similar scenario wherein our overall program project file kept increasing in size as planning packages were expanded. It got to the point where normal file maintenance was a challenge due to all the completed tasks still appearing in the file as pure "bulk". To alleviate that problem I developed a macro that took the essence of completed tasks and converted them to equivalent single line tasks that had the same basic parameters (e.g. dates, cost and EV metrics). The process kept the overall file sizes to manageable levels yet maintained critical historical parameters.

    So, yes it can be done.

    It also appears you are using a dynamic master. That by itself has the potential for file corruption. Have you considered only building a static master (unchecking the "link to project" option in the Insert Project window), when you need to create a management report? A static master offers a lot more flexibility for paring down the total size, and filtering or grouping to consolidate data.


    Thursday, August 29, 2013 3:52 PM
  • I agree with John, create static masters each week. It's easy to record a macro of you doing it once manually then you can run the macro each week to create a new snapshot. (Make sure the first command recorded is File, New.)

    VBA can also manage inter project links.

    Rod Gill

    The one and only Project VBA Book

    Rod Gill Project Management

    Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:19 PM
  • Julie, thanks for your suggestions.

    The project managers are updating their projects through their individual projects.

    The integrated program plan is used by the program manager to analyze the overall plan (to drill down into detailed activity to figure out the cause for schedule delays etc.). I agree there is a contradiction in the requirements - by needing to view the last level project task in the program plan while also needing to limit the program plan size.

    Friday, August 30, 2013 6:42 AM
  • tz, thanks. Creating new 'program view' projects appears to be manually repeated on a weekly basis.

    Friday, August 30, 2013 6:45 AM
  • John, thanks. How were you handling successor relationships where a subsequent in-progress task is impacted by a completed task (which will now be replaced by a summary task with a different completion date through the macro)?



    Friday, August 30, 2013 6:47 AM
  • Rod, thanks. The challenge in creating the static master would be having to re-establish the task relationships in a large program plan - repeated on a weekly basis manually.



    Friday, August 30, 2013 7:04 AM
  • Venkat,

    As I said it was many years since I wrote the macro and used it so I'd have to dig it up and see exactly how that situation was handled. However, off the top of my head I can think of two solutions. One is to set a constraint on the in-progress task so the successor relationship is no longer active. The other is to not include in-progress tasks in the reduction algorithm.

    And to answer the challenge of maintaining inter-project links between subproject tasks when converting a dynamic master to a static master, I have a macro that does exactly that, but it is not freeware.


    Friday, August 30, 2013 2:40 PM
  • Small bit of VBA code fixes that. Store the Project title in Text1 with a unique task name after it and the link type.

    EG in a task in Sub-Project B enter the following in Text1:

    Sub-Project A|Unique Task Name|FS+2d

    If the Task name is unique to the program (recommended) then you don't even need the Sub-Project title for teh code to reliably recreate the link.

    The VBA code can then recreate the inter-project links after its created the static master.

    Rod Gill

    The one and only Project VBA Book

    Rod Gill Project Management

    Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:06 AM