Managing Multiple Projects with MS PROJECT 2010 – Part 1


I will explain how to Manage Multiple Projects with MS PROJECT 2010. Before I start, I have to tell you something very important. If you are going to manage multiple Projects as a Program, or Portfolio, or both, and you want to do a serious job, then you should use MS PROJECT SERVER 2010. You can do a lot with MS PROJECT 2010 PROFESSIONAL, but MS PROJECT SERVER 2010 is much stronger tool, than it is MS PROJECT PROFESSIONAL.  For example, if you are using MS PROJECT SERVER 2010, then MS PROJECT PROFESSIONAL 2010 is serving as a client!

O.K. Let’s go! Do you know what is Program, and what is Portfolio? Simply, Program is set of Related Projects, and Portfolio is set of unrelated Project or Programs!

If you have a Master-Slave situation with your Projects, and you are keeping all those Projects in separate files, but you want to see them all on the one file, first you shoul open your Master Project, like I will:


I have another two “sub” Projects, and I want to insert them in the Master file! I will click in the row number 5 (e.g. firs empty row in my Master Project) and I will choose a Sub Project:


and then:


and I will get:


I will click on the + sign, and I will get the Tasks from the Sub Project:


Now I will select the first blank row below Project2, and I will insert a new Sub Project, as I did it before, and I will get:


Notice, that Project3 is now Sub Project of Project2. Why? Because I did not collapse Project2 before I have inserted the Project3 as a Sub Project!

I will insert the Project3 with collapsed Project 2, and I will get:


What if I want to outdent Project2 or Project3?


I will get:


Why? Well, this is Master-Slave situation, and Project3 has to be Sub Project (slave), of Project1, and it can not be on the same level as the Master Project (Project1)

What if you have the Resources with the same name in the multiple Project like this?


Simply, add the new column in the Resource Sheet, named Project, and you will get:


Remember that any change you make in a Master or Sub Project file are instantly made in the other file (Sub Project or Master), because there are LINKED!

No suppose that my Sub Projects are managed by different Project Managers, and I do not want to allow any changes to those Sub Projects from the Master Project! I will double click on the Sub Project Project2, and then:


From now on, if I change anything in the Project 2 Sub Project from the Master Project, I will get this:


and it means that those changes can not be save in my Project2 Sub Project.

But be careful. If you have open only Master Project, everything is fine. But, if you open both, Master and Subproject file that might not be true. It depends of which file did you open first! If you open the Sub Project file first, and the a Master Project file, you will be able to change to the subproject in the Master Project. so, if you want to be sure that you can not make any changes to Sub Project through Master file, always have opened only Master file, or open it first, before any other Sub Project.

In my next Post, I will show how to view the Critical path in Master Project, how to unlink Sub Project from Master Project, and how to remove Sub Project from Master Project.

Best Regards,


About Nenad Trajkovski

Location: Zagreb, Croatia Occupation: Project Manager Interests: Project Management and MS PROJECT He was born in Zagreb, Croatia at 1963. After completing his college he started working on projects in different business areas (banking, manufacturing, automotive industry, distribution, oil companies, etc.) developing and implementing ERP systems into different companies. He has got a lot of experience working with people in different business processes and also possesses great knowledge in information technologies and financial services. Today he works as a business consultant, adn Project Manager in PERPETUUM MOBILE d.o.o. Zagreb. He is a regular lecturer for Project Management in MS Innovation Center in Varaždin, Logosoft Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and SEAVUS GROUP in Skopje Macedonia. He was named the best lecturer of WINDAYS 2008 while his lecture was also voted as the best. In addition, he was in TOP 10 lecturers at the MS SINERGY 2009 and MS VISIA 2009, 2010. Shares first place as the best lecturer of KulenDays 2009 and 2010 and PMI Conference 2009 in Zagreb. He is also a regular lecturer in the MS Community. He is a Certified Accountant and a PMP (Project Manager Professional) and a PMI-RMP (Risk Manager Professional), MCP, MCT, and Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist - Microsoft Project 2010. From 01.01.2012 awarded with MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Proffesional - Microsoft Project)!
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26 Responses to Managing Multiple Projects with MS PROJECT 2010 – Part 1

  1. AAT says:

    Dear Nenad,
    I work in a Customer Support department, where I have 3 team members in charge of all the Support projects, Mr X, Mr Y, Mr Z.
    Each of them has around 10 Support Projects to work on, Each project has 3 stages in its lifetime, and the lifetimes are very long (a couple of months for each stage, maybe even more), each of those stages might be very complex containing multiple parallel tasks, or might be straightforward, containing a few serial tasks.

    As you can see, there is no resource management involved, because for each Support Project there is only one person involved. It is very important to monitor that each person is only working on two Support Projects that are in Stage 1, two that are in Stage 2, and two that are in Stage 3, the rest will be on hold.

    Right now for each of Mr X, Mr Y, Mr Z, I have a master project file open, containing each Support Project entered as subprojects. I can easily open the file for Mr Y, and take a look and see each of his Support Projects is in what Stage.

    Now I was asked to have a master project for ALL the Support Projects in our department, and somehow make decisions on how to allocate the active and hold projects, and the upcoming projects. Of course now I can make a new Master project, import each of the previous master projects as a subproject, but that doesn’t solve anything. What would you suggest me to do?

    I’m sorry if the situation is vague, I tried to explain. If neede, I will explain more!

  2. Arif says:

    How are you,

    Kindly inform, How can we link project 1 tasks to project 2 tasks in a master sheet. because in every project, row number starts from 1. Kindly inform the command to type in predecessor column

  3. naghmeh says:


    thank you very much for these posts. I have a question. I am doing IT Project Control. We have several (over 50) small projects each with 2 to 5 activities. Is it a good idea if I use summary tasks for these independent projects instead of subprojects? We are taking care of only the duration and progress percentage of duration for these projects. Thank you. N. V

    • Nenad Trajkovski says:

      Both approaches are good! USe one which is more appropriate for you! I can’t tell which approach is beter for you 🙂 If you have any further question, do not hesitate to mail me!

      • Peter says:

        Hallo Nenad!

        Thank you for your article.

        I have quite simillar question.
        We are luminaire R&D centre, we have active like 50 project at each time. Each project has at least 10-15 tasks (Planning, development, release). But these projects are update on weekly basis (we have project meetings monday-friday 8:00-10:00.

        What would you recommend to track a progress, resources usage and optimise workflow?
        Is it even reasonable to manage it in MS Project?

        Thank you for your reply.

      • Nenad Trajkovski says:

        I will see what I can do and I will write a Post about it.

  4. Jules says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve just purchased the licence, opened the software and thought I’d get on with it. This is supercool!

  5. Suhail says:

    Hi Nenad,
    Thanks for your reply . Amm I was wondering if it is possible to open different projects in one file ( not as a sub-project ) ? .
    Note : the projects are totally separated from each other . I need to see all my projects in one file , so I can easily go through files (projects) and select the one I need .

    • Nenad Trajkovski says:

      If you don’t want to use Project Server, the best thing is to use Master Project, and than each of your project can be seen as Subproject, evene if it is not subproject. In that case you will see all our projects, resources etc., so you should not be concerned about Master Project, because it will be only a spaceholder for aal your projects. I’ll write a Blog about that tomorrow!


  6. Irena says:

    Hello, could you please advice…you all seem to be very experienced with MS. ‘m interested in resource management. I tried to applyMSP and found that I’m not able to see an impact on resources if I make changes in some project tasks. Some tasks are dependent and are shifted with modification of others. But, I need to go to another page to see who becomes overloaded and I would prefer to have the view on resource occupation on the page of ggant.Is it possible? Thank you so much !! Irena

  7. Pedro S says:

    Hi there,
    imagine this situation. three or more projects that have tasks with the same name (although they are not common between the projects). when finally you import the three projects to the master one, you notice some overallocation of resources, when in the resource usage view (which seems to be the best to deal with this case of issue), the names are shown are equal between projects (task 1 and task 1 and there’s no way to see if is from project X or project Y).
    how can I see in this view from which project is a task?… or if you know any other workaround.

  8. Nenad Trajkovski says:

    Frankly, I did not try this one! I will in the future!

    • Steinfeld, Shane says:

      I would greatly appreciate it. There is not a lot of documentation on this. I googled it do death and came up with nothing that hits it out of the park. When do you think you would be able to address this topic? I think it would be a great help to many people.

      Shane Steinfeld
      Project Control Analyst

      Master Scheduling
      General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.
      14200 Kirkham Way, Poway CA 92064
      Office: 858.312.3536 Fax: 858-312-2882

      CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication is intended to be confidential to the person(s) to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient or the agent of the intended recipient or if you are unable to deliver this communication to the intended recipient, you must not read, use or disseminate this information. If you have received this communication in error, please advise the sender immediately by telephone and delete this message and any attachments without retaining a copy.

      • Steinfeld, Shane says:

        Can you please remove my contact info from my reply. I will make sure to remove my signature before replying in the future

  9. Shane says:

    It looks like this
    A1 -> B1 -> C1
    | | |
    A2 -> B2 -> C2

    A1 -> C1

  10. Shane says:

    This was very helpful. Do you have any writeups like this on doing “What IFs” and the proper way to use “save as” when dealing with multiple linked projects. When I do the save as a get a bunch of duplicated links and when I delete them project adds them back in the next time open the projects.

    • Nenad Trajkovski says:

      I sent you an e-mail!

      • Shane says:

        Thank you for your email. Ok here are the specifics. I am in project server 2007 and soon to roll to 2010. I have about 6 projects that are linked to eachother. Project A1 and A2 are very integrated or linked. Projects B1 and B2 are the same as A. Projects C1 and C2 are the same as B. Projects A have a few links into B. Project B has a few links into C and Project A has one or two links into C. On a frequent basis I get asked to do a “what if” schedule that would require me to change on a large scale the projects in B and the projects in C. So I attempt to do a file save as so I can modify the B’s and C’s. This save as would create Projects D (former B) and E (former C). The desired result is to have two strings of logic that go A – B – C and A – D – E. What I get is duplicated logic mixed between all of them. I thought this not be the case if I opened all of them and did a save as. It appeared to work the first time I did it, but when I opend the projects back up (not sure in what order) it added all the duplicated logic back in. I cleaned out the duplicates and the next time I opened it all the logic links I deleted were added back in. So as simple as I can say it I guess what I am really asking is the proper way to do “save as” of project that have multiple external links, without getting the duplicated logic. Also what do you think is the “best practice” for doing “what if” schedules.

  11. Nesha says:

    Hvala Nenade,
    ovo mi je bas trebalo
    New Zealand

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