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MS Project – For when you have nothing better to do…no really!

Project steps

Ok, this is a totally frivolous blog. What you are about to learn is of no use whatsoever other than to pass the time, or show your colleagues a totally random and surprisingly entertaining (in a geeky way) bit of misuse of MS Project.

Create two tasks of equal duration.

Two tasks of equal duration

Two tasks of equal duration

Click into the FINISH cell for TASK1 and then click on COPY.

Then click into the START cell of TASK2.

Click on the arrow under PASTE and select PASTE SPECIAL.

Paste special option

Paste special option

Then select PASTE LINK and click on OK.



Do the same but this time starting in TASK2, pasting the FINISH date into the START cell of TASK1, making sure you use PASTE LINK again.

Click on OK and watch your two tasks step across your Gantt chart.

See the video of the whole set up and see those tasks move!

It’s amazing what geeks find entertaining!

Note that by doing this the tasks will walk to the end of time in your project plan. To stop it all, just delete the tasks.





MS Project – Working with Multiple Projects

Working with one project can be difficult enough, but you may well find yourself managing or having to keep an eye on multiple projects which of course makes it several more times difficult to manage and control.

Unlike Primavera, which is set up so you can manage a wide portfolio of projects from the same screen, Microsoft is essentially a one project view (I can already hear gasps of shock from the more advanced users at that last comment) but MS Project does have the ability to display multiple projects in a single project view.

For this, I am just going to use 2 projects to keep it simple but this could just as easily apply to 10 projects or more. I am also not using SHARED RESOURCES to keep it simple, but you do have the option to use shared resources from a common pool to use across multiple projects.

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Rather than have to go into each project individually I want to see them both at the same time and on the same screen. For that have a blank project open and go to the PROJECT tab and click on SUBPROJECT. If you are using 2003 or 2007 go to the INSERT menu, and select PROJECT.

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Select all the projects you want to view together, using SHIFT + left click to select a whole group of projects or use CTRL + left click to select non-contiguous projects, then click on INSERT.

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Note the LINK TO PROJECT tick box. By leaving this option ticked, the imported projects remain linked to the original ‘stand-alone’ projects. This means that any changes you make in the new multi-project view will feed back to the original project so you don’t have to duplicate any work you do updating both the multi-project and the single projects. If you untick this option, then any changes you make to the multi-view project will not affect the original projects.

You should now see this:

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Notice that there is a PROJECT icon in the left hand margin to show that these are imported projects rather than project tasks.

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By clicking on the expansion button you can see the entire Gantt chart for each of your projects. If you are used to reviewing your project through the STATISTICS button on the PROJECT INFORMATION window, then you will encounter a slight problem. If you check your STATISITCS now you will get total duration, work, cost etc. for ALL the projects in the current view. In order to view the STATISITCS for each project individually, you have to treat each project as a TASK.

Click on one of the project names, go to the TASK tab, and click on INFORMATION in the PROPERTIES group. You will see the multi-tab task information window as though looking at a standard task, but you will now notice that there is a PROJECT INFORMATION button. Go to the ADVANCED tab and there you can see whether the project is linked, read only etc. and you can use this window to change the options whenever you want.

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To view the project STATISITICS of the selected project, click on PROJECT INFORMATION, then in the next window click on the STATISITCS button.

So now you can view and edit (if you want to) all the projects you are keeping an eye on in one simple view!

Note that if you do edit the consolidated multi-project view you will be prompted about saving changes to the original project.

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Decide for yourself what changes you want to save back to the original project and click on the appropriate button. If changes are made to the original stand-alone project then these changes come through automatically to the multi-project view.

Good luck managing your many projects!