In a Microsoft Project Server 2010 class I taught last month, a student asked whether it is possible to create a master project that shows only key milestones from a group of subprojects. He did not want to see the actual subprojects; he only wanted to see the key milestones from the subprojects. The reason I am writing this blog post is because last week, another student asked me the same question. My philosophy is that if two students ask the same question in a short period of time, there must be thousands of other people who have the same question!
The answer to this question is yes, it is possible to create a master project that shows only the key milestones from its subprojects. To accomplish this, complete the following steps using any version of Microsoft Project:
1. Launch Microsoft Project and leave open the new blank project.
2. Select the first blank row of the new blank project and insert the first subproject using the following steps for your version of Microsoft Project:
- For versions early than Microsoft Project 2010, click Insert Ø Project, select the project, and then click the Insert button in the Insert Project dialog.
- In Microsoft Project 2010, click the Subproject button in the Insert section of the Project ribbon, select the project, and then click the Insert button in the Insert Project dialog.
3. Using the procedure in step #2 above, insert all of the subprojects whose key milestones you want to track.
Figure 1 shows the master project after I inserted three subprojects using Microsoft Project 2010.
Figure 1: Master project with subprojects inserted
4. Working from the bottom to the top of the list of subprojects, click the Expand indicator (+) to expand the tasks in each of the subprojects.
5. Examine the milestones in each subproject and determine how many key milestones you want to track in the master project.
6. Select the first task ID#1 at the very top of the master project.
7. Insert the number of blank rows needed for the key milestones by pressing the Insert key on your computer keyboard one time for each key milestone. For example, if you want to track six key milestones, press the Insert key six times to create six blank rows at the top of the project.
Figure 2 shows my master project with all subprojects expanded and with ten blank rows at the top for the ten key milestones I want to track.
Figure 2: Master project with ten blank rows
to track ten key milestones in the subprojects
8. In each of the blank task rows, type the name of the major milestone you want to track, and set the Duration of each milestone task to 0 days. Use descriptive names to describe the name of the subproject and its key milestone.
Figure 3 shows my master project with the ten key milestone tasks created using descriptive names for each milestone. Using descriptive names for each key milestone, you can probably infer that I intend to use the CRM Analysis Complete milestone task to refer to the Analysis Complete milestone task in the CRM Software Development project.
Figure 3: Master project with key milestones
created using descriptive names
9. Select a key milestone in one of the subprojects, press and hold the Control key on your computer keyboard, and then select the corresponding key milestone in the top of the project.
10. Release the Control key and then link the selected tasks with a Finish-to-Start (FS) dependency.
11. Repeat steps #9 and #10 for the key milestones in every subproject.
12. Collapse each of the subprojects and then zoom the Timescale so that you can see all of the key milestones.
Figure 4 shows my master project after linking each of the key milestones in the subprojects with their corresponding milestone tasks in the master project. Keep in mind that when you collapse each subproject, the cross-project links remain, even though the system no longer displays the link lines in the Gantt Chart.
Figure 4: Master project after linking key milestones
13. Delete all of the subprojects and selecting them and then pressing the Delete key on your computer keyboard.
14. If the system displays a warning dialog about deleting tasks with actual values, click the Yes button.
15. If the system displays a series of dialogs prompting you to save the changes to any of the subprojects, click the No button in each dialog.
At this point, the master project includes duplicate sets of key milestones. Notice that for each set of milestones shown in Figure 5, the system displays a gray "ghost task" for each milestone from a subproject, along with the corresponding key milestone created at the top of the master project. You now need to hide the gray "ghost tasks" so that they no longer appear in this project.
Figure 5: Key milestones shown from
the master project and the subprojects
16. Navigate to the Options dialog in your version of Microsoft Project:
- For versions early than Microsoft Project 2010, click Tools Ø Options, and then select the View tab.
- In Microsoft Project 2010, click File Ø Options, select the Advanced tab in the Project Options dialog, and then scroll down to the Cross project linking options for this project section of the dialog.
17. Deselect the following options:
- Show external successors
- Show external predecessors
- Show 'Links Between Projects' dialog on open
18. Select the Automatically accept new external data option and then click the OK button.
19. Save the master project.
Figure 6 shows the master project with only key milestones. Every time you open the master project in the future, Microsoft Project will automatically update the dates of the key milestones with any new dates for the corresponding milestones in the subprojects.
Figure 6: Master project includes only key milestones
Note: If you open any of the subprojects that "feed" the master project with key milestone dates, you will see gray "ghost tasks" for the milestones created in the master project. If you want to hide these gray "ghost tasks" in the subproject, you must deselect the Show external successors in the Options dialog for that subproject.