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How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

(OP)
I have just taken a position as PM for an IT data migration firm. I do not have any formal experience. I have 4 or 5 projects going on now. My question is this:

Can I manage 5 projects with one MPP file or do I need to create 5 MPP files to manage these projects? I would like to integrate all projects into one MPP file. If I can do that please tell me how. Thanks

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

dohmenje

Just a question - why would you want to integrate 5 projects into a single file?

My thoughts, apart from MPP, are that you would want to manage each project separately.  That's not to say to look for synergies because no doubt they are there, but I would think each project has it's own unique budget, scope of work, schedule, objectives, and resources.

It is common to have numerous sub-projects within a single project, but even then, they each generally have their own Sub-Project Manager reporting to the Project Manager and are in essence run independently, even to the same objectives & stategies.

Greg Lamberson, BS, MBA
Consultant - Upstream Energy
Website: www.oil-gas-consulting.com

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

I don't see what the distinction is.  A "project" is simply a more complicated "task."  At the end of the day, you've got tasks that are small and manageable and measureable, which is all that counts.

MSP has levels of indentation specifically for aggregating smaller tasks under higher-level headings.  A typical program has a number of sub-jobs, systems engineering, electrical, mechanical, software.  Each of these jobs is in effect, a mini-program.

TTFN

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RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

Why doesn't every comapny have a single MPP file and lump all of their projects into it in the form of tasks?  Then they could only have a single scheduler and a single PM.

Sounds good, but if you have to prepare budgets, forecasts, resource loading, staff plans, status reports, answer to different clients who have different requests & needs etc. etc. etc. you're asking for a nightmare to try and load them all into a single file.

This might work if each project were extremely small, had a single client, and only had a few people working on it and a few tasks.

You may be able to physically do it, but to actively manage a project like that is a whole different ball game and in my opinion is asking for trouble - especially with a new PM.

Greg Lamberson, BS, MBA
Consultant - Upstream Energy
Website: www.oil-gas-consulting.com

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

The difference is what the intent is.  For a single dept, it might make sense to put everything into a single file so that you can look at the resource loading and ensure that you're not overallocating a single critical resource.

That's often done, unintentionally, in a company with multiple contracts.  Their individual MSP files show "Joe Blow," required for a particular task but they all actually wanted the SAME "Joe Blow."  Had the MSP files been integrated, it would have shown Joe Blow at 500% allocation.  That' of course, NEVER happens at our companies.

TTFN

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RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

(OP)
The idea behind wanting to put all 5 projects into one mpp file is this:

I need to develop something like a chart or graph that I can show to my sales dept as well as others working on the project(S) what our current status is on each project as well as a combined status. The objective is to let sales know if we can take on more work and also if we need to hire more people etc.

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

dohmenje

Again, my recommendation from a management perspective is to set them up separately.  Project presentations & status updates are one thing, but for actively managing a project, including developing staff plans they will need to be separated.

What I have done before on multiple projects is set up a weekly status report and link progress curves & other pertinent information from each project on to a single status report.

Unless these are all for the same client and each project only has a few people, a few tasks, and no critical path, I think you'll get into trouble trying to combine them into a single MPP file to try and manage.  That's just my opinion.

Greg Lamberson, BS, MBA
Consultant - Upstream Energy
Website: www.oil-gas-consulting.com

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

That's really a matter of what you're trying to do.  We have Integrated Master Schedules with thousands of line items, just for one contract.

TTFN

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

You can create separate project files for each project, then combine them on a master project.  Open a blank project file, got to the insert menu and select project.  You embed a copy of the individual project files that can be accessed from the master.

I've done it before and it works fine.  You'll want to use a resource pool to avoid the aforementioned overallocation.

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

I my experience it is better to make a .mmp file for each of your five projects and work on them separately.  MS Project will allow you to make a master .mmp file that is a composite of your five projects.  So you can see them combined but can work on them individually.  Additionally, you can use a common resourse file (called a Resource Pool) for all five projects so that you can see the impact of your composite projects accross all your resources.

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

(OP)
Actually satchmo you have given the correct answer. Perhaps I didnt phrase the question right but this is definitely the answer I was looking for! My hats off to you!

RE: How to manage multiple projects with MS Project

Glad I could help.  Good luck with your projects!

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