When you are managing a portfolio of projects, there is a good chance that your subprojects will be interrelated to some degree. Microsoft Project allows to you set up links across different projects to account for these predecessor and successor relationships.
In the example below, we have a two-project portfolio consisting of “Project A” and “Project B”. If you want to ensure that Project A doesn’t start before Project B finishes, you need to set up a cross-project dependency between the last task in Project A and the first task in Project B:
Setting up a cross-project dependency is similar to setting up dependencies in a single project, and can still be done in the “Predecessors” field in Microsoft Project. Instead of only typing in the row number, you need to specify both the project name and the row number like this:
If you are using Project Professional on the desktop, the “Project A” name will be replaced with the physical location of your *.mpp file. If you are using Project Server or Project Online, the “Project A” name will remain unchanged.
Link Tasks, Not Projects
We recommend that you avoid the temptation to link project summary tasks directly. In other words, don’t make the Project B summary task depend on the Project A summary task. Instead, find the task in Project A that needs to finish before Project B can start.
Creating cross-project dependencies between actual tasks instead of summary tasks is a more accurate way to represent relationships between projects, and can save you some headaches down the line if the WBS of your projects ever change.
Do you have any tips for managing a Microsoft Project master file? We’d appreciate your comments!