This month we’ll take a look some of the other ways we can consolidate projects, and then discuss some ideas of how to begin to manage these multiple projects.
For your convenience, you can double click on these three files to load up Project afresh with the same three aircraft modification programmes that we worked with last month.
(NOTE: Check Window and if you see “[read only]” beside any of the projects, File/Save As… and give it a new name, for example by putting a space between Aircraft and A to read Aircraft A.mpp.)
Just to remind you, these are 3 projects; each one is for a modification program for a different type of aircraft. Last month we consolidated the projects using the built-in Window/New Window process.
Master Project – Copy/Paste
A second way to produce a master project is simply by Copy/Paste. So open a New file and immediately save it as ramps1.mpp. Then Tools/Options…/View tab and select to Show project summary task. Finally Project/Project Information… and set the Start Date to 3 Jan 05.
Now open Aircraft A (Window/Aircraft A). Click the ID 0 to highlight the whole summary and thus the whole project.
Click the Copy button.
Go to the master ramps1, select the next blank task.
Click the Paste button.
Aircraft A should now appear in ramps1
This next step is important: click the little minus sign next to Aircraft A’s project summary task to collapse the detail.
Now click in the next task cell. It is here that we can copy Aircraft B using the same process. If you don’t collapse the detail of Aircraft A, when you paste Aircraft B it will be indented under task 14 of Aircraft A. Of course you can always outdent it again, but why make it more complicated! Another advantage is that you don’t have to scroll down to find the last task (imagine a project of 100 tasks or more) – so always click to collapse the project before copying in the next project. Go ahead and copy/paste Aircraft B and Aircraft C.
So we have created a master project, but how does it differ from that produced last month? The obvious differences are that all the projects start at the same project date: 3 Jan 05. Secondly, the ID numbers run sequentially throughout ramps1, whereas before they kept the same ID numbers as they had in their separate projects. And, not so obvious, if you try Tools/Resource Sharing/Share Resources… we can see that ramps1 is using its own resources and not sharing any more. Check the Resource Usage view to see the resources are, in fact, still intact. Thus, we don’t need the pool at all! Equally, the master is static in that any changes made to ramps1 will not be reflected in the individual projects and vice versa: if you change individual project data it will not be reflected in ramps1. So we might just as well delete the 3 aircraft projects from the database as we have all the information contained in this ramps1 project.
To be able to see the resource requirement, we need to re-set the start dates for each of the projects. Expand Aircraft B and click on the Start date cell for the task Start Aircraft – B, and then the drop-down arrow for the calendar and pick the 10 Jan.
Repeat for Start Aircraft - C for the date 17 Jan. This sets them up with the same start dates as we tried last month with 39 days duration. As before, you might like to check the resource peak requirements – they should be the same as we discovered last month. Split the screen, select the Resource Graph for the lower screen, and Zoom to weeks. Expand one of the files (click the + next to the summary) and select the Preparation task to see the graphs. Now we see a peak requirement of 4 Aircraft, 7 Propulsion and 6 Electrical technicians: the same as last month.
Master Project – Insert
The third method for creating a consolidated master file is to use the Insert Project feature. Create another new master project and call it ramps2 . Give it a Project Summary task and using Project/Project Information… give it a start date of 3 Jan 05. Click in the first Task Name cell and then Insert/Project…
Select Aircraft A from your appropriate directory and click the Insert button at the bottom, or double click the project name.
Make certain Aircraft A is collapsed: click on the minus sign next to the task name.
Now repeat for Aircraft B and expand both aircraft by clicking on both + signs, and then have a look at the Resource Sheet view. You will see that the resources have been repeated for the 2 aircraft and numbered separately. Why is this so?
Well, I wanted to demonstrate that a degree of planning is required before consolidating projects and thus to prevent this duplication from happening, we must first share the resources with a pool, as we did last month with the original ramps.mpt. So, delete the 2 aircraft from ramps2, create a new pool file (don’t use last month’s pool as it is shared with last month’s projects) open each of the Aircraft files in turn and share them with the pool and then close them again (for the procedure see last month’s article).
When you insert projects, to make sure the results are dynamic, we need to link them with the master. So when you select to insert Aircraft A, make sure the link box is checked.
Repeat the process of inserting the projects adding in Aircraft C as well. Check the Resource Sheet to see you have only one set of resources as we had last month. Check also the resource peak requirements are 4 Aircraft, 7 Propulsion and 6 Electrical technicians.
So, we have completed the third method of consolidating. This method produces identical results as in the Window method explained last week and are also dynamic, in that any change to the master project will be reflected in the individual projects and vice versa. You could thus delete the master if you wanted to and the individual projects would retain the changes when you save them, and you can always re-create the master later, or another with a different set of projects. I suggest you save ramps2.
Last month I said that based on the calculations that Project has made for us, the Project can be done in 39 days Duration, starting on 3 Jan 05 and finishing on 24 Feb 05 – PROVIDING I have 4 Aircraft, 7 Propulsion and 6 Electrical technicians. If that is the situation, I need do nothing more than get on with it!
However, let’s have a look at the opposite extreme assuming we have only one of each resource available. Using ramps2, go to Tools/Level Resources…, ensure that Level only within available slack is unchecked, and click the Level now button. Project will delay tasks until resources become available, pushing out the end date after 116 working days to 13 Jun 05. Notice also, in the Resource Sheet view, that no resources are overallocated any more.
Again if that is acceptable, issue the plan and get on with it!
We’ve seen 2 other ways of consolidating projects into one Master. The first produced a new static project containing all the data, thus allowing the original project to be deleted. The second way was by using the Insert Project function to build a dynamic master which, like the Window method last month, allows changes in one to affect the other. Which method you use is your choice, depending on how you want to multi-project manage. Remember that these dynamic masters are really a way to see and manage the overall picture and they can be deleted and created at will to meet your needs or the needs of higher management.
In the next issue we’ll look deeper into options and implications of resource leveling across multiple projects.