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.
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,