Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm looking for input/suggestions/workaround on a problem with inserting multiple subprojects into a consolidated project file.

    I was very proud to have finally refined our 'system' for using project in our engineering/design department after many years of trial and error. I manage many product design projects that can last from one to four years. These projects are often a group or series of products that are related and share parts/raw materials. My goal has been to use project as a glorified 'to-do' list where, on a daily basis we can open an overview file and - find out what needs to be done/what we are falling behind on... Gee, can you relate? Point being, we have never been too concerned with resource levelling and allocation since we are a smaller, private company and everything always needs to get done 'yesterday'. We are tracking resources for approx. 30 people plus numerous vendors.

    I thought it would be a good idea to break down each component of each project into small 'bite-size' project files that would have between 10 and 100 tasks each. These are stored on a server with an id code that is referenced in our BOM database. We would then create project files that represent sub-assemblies and contain between 10 and 40 sub-projects (the aforemenetioned 'bite-size' files that are part of this assembly on the BOM and are inserted and linked).

    OK, with me so far? Now, picture another level in the hierarchy that is a project file called 'ID-xyz Develop New abc product'. This would contain the next level project files we just created (sub-assembly files). OK. Again, same thing for the series until we get to an overview file for the entire department that covers all 'in progress' work. The plan was to make various versions of this file, customized for each of the major players (production, engineering, team members, owners etc.).

    Basically, the structure is; a project within a project within a project within a project etc...

    Anyway, it has obvious benfits because you can edit task lists at various levels and everything is linked etc. If you want to update a part's timeline, and you know the id code, you just find the file, open it, update it and close it. Short loading/save time, painless etc.

    Only one problem with this plan... I overlooked a serious issue:

    Picture the hierarchy... now, imagine a common part (say a new fastener) that is used on 8 of the projects you are tracking. This means that you have 8 assemblies' files where this fastener (project file) is consolidated in higher-level project files, linked etc. OK. As mentioned, take the 8 assemblies and put them into 8 different products. Now take these 8 products and put them into an overview file... Ooops, can't do that! Project won't let you insert the same project file twice in the same consolidated file. Understandably so, since all of the resource allocation/work etc. calculations would be invalid because you would be counting 1project 8 times, when it should only be counted once.

    Now, I should mention that before developing this system, I had already tried tracking 'common' items at the top of a project file and linking those tasks to the successive tasks/projects that all shared the common predecessor. I found this very difficult to work with because when you are finding out status on a particular project, you will drill down, only to find out that the component you are concerned about is one of the 'common' projects and you have just wasted time looking for it. - suffice it to say that I am really stubborn and would like to find a way to make my system work!

    I'm bummed out. If I had a direct line to the project development team, I would ask for an option for consolidated projects that would let us ignore data for certain inserted projects. For the above system, all I'm really concerned with doing is viewing/editing sub-projects from any level in the hierarchy. To me, this is the beauty of consolidating projects. Pardon me for not using the software in it's 'textbook' application but I'm sure there are others out there who also use it as a 'glorified to-do list'.

    I genuinely hope some of you have found this post interesting, if nothing else. I'm not sure where else to turn as this really isn't a tech support question but more of an implementation question. If anyone knows of a workaround or has run into the same brick wall, I'd love to hear from you.

    Thanks for listening,
    Dave Vanderploeg.
    Engineering Manager.

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Dave,

    I read your post and could you please summarize what it is you are trying to do. I am having a hard time understanding where the problem occurs.

    Also, what is the BOM database?

    We use consolidated projects as well, but I can't figure out what it is you are trying to do.

    Thanks
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  3. #3
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Wow that summary is difficult to understand. You'll need to provide the information in a much better way for us to completely understand what you are trying to achieve. However, think about having the "parts" as resources rather than projects. i.e. each common inventory part is a resource that can be assigned across multiple projects.

    You're really pushing the boundry of what MS Project was designed to handle. I go as far as to say you are really fitting what you require to fit in MS Project rather than using MS Project the way it was intended to be used (a high risk decision).

    You really need an ERP software to do what I think you are asking for. You'll have much better control and far more useful data generated if you go that route. The other option is to use Access and prepare a database.

    Paco

  4. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Guys,

    Sorry for the long-winded explanation. My reason for going into so much detail was mainly so that people would understand why I want to accomplish this, and to explain the 'system' I've come up with. I was afraid it would be hard to follow. Here's what I'm trying to do:

    *** Find a way to insert the same project twice or more in one consolidated project. *** End of story.

    Paco, thanks for the advice on the "parts" as resources. I'll have to think about that one for a while. I think that opens up another whole use for Project.
    Really though, know that we are simply tracking a series of tasks related to the design of products. Nothing special. The only reason I mention BOM or (bill of materials) is because our critical path relates to how long it will take to design (and tool, and sample, and approve etc.) new parts. Each of these parts is a small project unto itself. ERP is something we use for production/forecasting etc.

    Anyway, if someone knows a way that I can insert the same project more than once into a consolidated project, please share. (we would pay for a solution...)

    Thanks for your time all,
    Dave.

  5. #5
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Dave,

    Definitely, ERP is out then.

    I'm not quite sure why you would need to insert the project twice though? With the varying types of links, you should be able to complish the same thing without dual project entry.

    Secondly, I don't believe you can.

    Perhaps, clarifying a bit more of what you are looking to accomplish, we might be able to come up with alternate ways of entering the data (using resources etc.)

    Paco

  6. #6
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Dave,

    I don't think you can insert the same project more the once into a consolidated project, but I would have to experiment with that. Actually, I don't see why you couldn't as the Unique ID's in a consolidated project are different then the UID's in a standard project. (I'll get back to you on this... don't have my reference materials with me.)

    Normally, you would create a template project representing work that would be the same across many projects. You then have two options. First option, insert the template when needed into a project. In this manner, the template is part of a project and get assigned its own unique id's. Second option is to save each template under its own name. You could then insert the templates which are the same project saved under different names into the consolidated project. - Again, the id's will remain unique.

    Don't know if this helps any. Post back with any questions.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  7. #7
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the comments. In the suggestions you make, how would you link all of the projects or templates so that they all get updated at the same time? If I understand your suggestion, you are saying to have the same project information but saved with different filenames. Am I correct?

    In any case, I'm not sure you or Paco really understand the problem. I guess my explanation is not very clear. Sorry. I've shown my project system to other MS Project users and they are usually pretty impressed with the concept and how well it applies to our (managing multiple projects) situation. I think it may be a little unorthodox.

    Thanks again for your time.

    Regards,
    Dave.

  8. #8
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Dave,

    So, Now I am beginning to understand what you are doing. You have one project inserted into many projects such that if you update the one project, all of the other projects update as well. However, when you try to make a consolidated project, you are getting an error stating that the project is already inserted. (Is this correct?)

    In my scenario, you would have to update each inserted project individually. However, If you save each project with the inserted project under a new name, you may then be able to insert them into a consolidated project. (Hows that for a tongue twister.)

    As for resources, how are you tracking your utilization requirements across all of the projects the one project is inserted into?

    I still have been unable to test this.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  9. #9
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Gary,

    Yes, your understanding is correct about the error I am getting.

    Regarding your scenario, that is exactly what I'm doing. The inserted project is "contained in" numerous projects, all of which have unique filenames. When these are inserted into a consolidated project, the program detects the lowest level project (maybe we should call it the "nested" project) and gives an error saying it is already contained elsewhere (in the consolidated file). - Man, this gets difficult to describe.

    I'm using one shared resource pool for all project files.

    Regards,
    Dave.

  10. #10
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    I will try to run some tests on this later. I have some ideas I want to try.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  11. #11
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Dave,

    I looked at what you are trying to do and have not yet come up with a solution. The only work around I can think of is that after you insert a project into the consolidated project, you would need to break the link to the project that would be inserted over and over as part of another project into the consolidated project. (Confusing, isn't it... <img src=/S/dizzy.gif border=0 alt=dizzy width=15 height=15> ). This, of course defeats the ability to update all of the projects by changing the one project but would allow you to get your reports across all of the projects. (I wonder if anyone will ever understand what I am saying)

    Anyway, I will post back if I can come up with anything else.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  12. #12
    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Frederick, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,788
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Dave,

    Well, you have me stumped using MS Project. I tried using the New Window feature as well but with the same results, ... you can only insert a project once in a consolidated project....

    The only workaround I can think of is to create your one project as a template. You would then need to save the template under a new name and insert that into each project. What you could do (as long as you don't allow the template to be updated from the individual projects) is write some code that would copy the template file and replace all of its children (copies inserted into other projects) when changes are made. This would drive the changes in the other projects as well as the consolidated project that is linked back to the template.

    Other then that, I don't think I can come up with a different way to do what you want in MS Project. Have you tried the MS Knowledgebase for ideas.

    HTH - Good Luck
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

  13. #13
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Multiple projects - consolidated file (2002)

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you for trying. I feel somewhat comforted to see that it perplexes you also. As I mentioned, I can understand the reasons behind this limitation, I just think that it should be defeatable for someone who wants to create a consolidated project for a different purpose (other than making the work/resource allocation/etc. calculations that MS Project is so good at).

    I haven't tried the knowledgebase yet. I will now.

    Thanks,
    Dave.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •