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Largest sensible size for a plan? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,  we currently use MS Project Standard and are looking at scaling up.  We run multiple projects with around 5 separate teams and a maximum of around 50 resources.   We've trialled MS Project Online but concluded that this offers no advantage for us, since noone here wants to work with timesheets.

    After thinking this through, I am about to propose:

    - Each team has its own plan, covering all projects (avoiding the use of a common resource pool).

    - Each team publishes a list of milestones, derived from its plan, probably in a spreadsheet (avoiding the use of externals).   

    However, before I do this,  I did wonder whether it would be better to just have one big plan with everything in it.

    Does anyone take this approach and what is considered to be the largest reasonable size for such a plan?

    Thanks!

     

    Friday, October 28, 2016 3:10 PM

Answers

  • Reynolds531,

    It looks like you've already done some research (i.e. trialed Project Online) and recognized the issues with "externals", which I assume is external links.

    If your 50 resources are not used across multiple project plans then indeed separate project plans is probably the best approach. However, if those 50 resources are used across multiple plans, then you should consider using a resource pool, even though that linked structure is more prone to corruption.

    The principal disadvantage of one big plan with all projects is accessibility. If you have a single individual responsible for the plan, and I would suggest you do that, then everything is already in one place and reporting is simple. However, if you need/want individual teams to control their own project then a single plan becomes a liability.

    As far as reporting, yes you could use Excel, but with individual project plans, you could also create a static master whenever you need to combine all projects for a report. A static master is created by unchecking the "link to project" option in the lower right corner of the Insert Project window.

    As far as "reasonable size", I'm sure you are aware that Project specifications allow very, very large files but in my experience a "nice" size plan is less than a few thousand tasks (e.g. less than 5K).

    Those are my thoughts, I'm sure others will jump in.

    John

    • Marked as answer by Reynolds531 Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:15 PM
    Friday, October 28, 2016 4:05 PM

All replies

  • Reynolds531,

    It looks like you've already done some research (i.e. trialed Project Online) and recognized the issues with "externals", which I assume is external links.

    If your 50 resources are not used across multiple project plans then indeed separate project plans is probably the best approach. However, if those 50 resources are used across multiple plans, then you should consider using a resource pool, even though that linked structure is more prone to corruption.

    The principal disadvantage of one big plan with all projects is accessibility. If you have a single individual responsible for the plan, and I would suggest you do that, then everything is already in one place and reporting is simple. However, if you need/want individual teams to control their own project then a single plan becomes a liability.

    As far as reporting, yes you could use Excel, but with individual project plans, you could also create a static master whenever you need to combine all projects for a report. A static master is created by unchecking the "link to project" option in the lower right corner of the Insert Project window.

    As far as "reasonable size", I'm sure you are aware that Project specifications allow very, very large files but in my experience a "nice" size plan is less than a few thousand tasks (e.g. less than 5K).

    Those are my thoughts, I'm sure others will jump in.

    John

    • Marked as answer by Reynolds531 Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:15 PM
    Friday, October 28, 2016 4:05 PM
  • Thanks John,  

    Some good points there.

    To clarify:

    - Each team consists of non-interchangeable specialist resources e.g. SW Engineers, HW Engineers etc.  Each project uses some of the resources from each of the 5 teams.  By using individual team plans e.g. HW Team plan, SW Team plan etc,  which span multiple projects, I hope to keep the plans simple and avoid having to use a shared resource pool.  Also,  Team Leads feel comfortable with seeing only their tasks in their plans.

    - Whilst convenient, I have found external links to be slow and limiting in the past, and so I thought that this would be a good time to dispense with them.  I only want to use Excel to store the milestones which are equivalent to links between team plans.  

    - I no longer want to keep plans on my local drive.  I would like to use our Sharepoint repository to cover versioning and improve visibility.  I'd expect that a common resource pool and Sharepoint would not work well together.  This assumption is based on my bad experience of trying to link plans that lived in Sharepoint in the past.

    - I did try out the static master plan previously, but found it disappointing as the external links within it still pointed at the original plans.  However,  I'll look at this again.  With no external links used then this should work quite nicely.  

    Thanks!

    Friday, October 28, 2016 10:45 PM
  • Reynolds153,

    You're welcome and thanks for the feedback.

    I think I understand your team concept and it sounds like individuals on each team are dedicated to a particular Project. But I don't quite understand your individual team "plans" and how they span multiple "projects"? I'm assuming you are using "plans" and "projects" to both describe a Project file but maybe not.

    If you still had links when you tried creating a static master then you must have either had inter-project links (task A in project 1 linked to task B in project 2) or a resource pool/sharer configuration. By itself, a static master has no links to anything.

    John

    Friday, October 28, 2016 11:48 PM
  • Thanks John,  yes a  project in our terms is a Product e.g. Product A, Product B, Product C etc.  A single team, say the HW Team would cover each Product at various times, with various gaps.  A Project Manager would coordinate the contributions of each team in a consolidated plan.  

    Also,  I agree with your static master comment.  External links between plans are a nuisance in a consolidated plan. They inhibit swift tracing of dependencies when looking into driving tasks that span multiple  plans. 

     Right now I think I'll avoid the common resource pool but I could change my mind later.

    I've marked your first response as the answer to the original question.

    Thanks!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:16 PM
  • Reynolds531,

    Okay, good luck with your plans.

    John

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:25 PM