Getting strange results in multi-project OnePagers? Check your Project Summary Task!

In recent weeks we’ve been hearing from a lot of customers whose multi-project OnePager files are behaving strangely. Tasks that were previously red are now blue, or are showing up in the wrong row/swimlane, etc. – it’s like OnePager has amnesia. Needless to say, this is not a fun experience, for customers or for us! But we think we have identified the cause behind most of these problems, and the solution.

What’s going on is that Microsoft Project has a weird response when a user renames a .mpp file. What often occurs is that the Project Summary Task, which appears at the top (as task 0) in every MS Project file (see below), is also renamed when the .mpp file is renamed. This confuses OnePager in a multi-project environment. If OnePager is, say, sorting swimlanes by Project Name, it relies on the Project Summary Task of each individual project to determine what each Project Name is. If OnePager goes back to an MS Project file and the Project Summary Task has been renamed, OnePager thinks that it has never seen this project and its tasks before, and as a result task sorting and formatting is thrown off.

pst_1

Fortunately, the solution is simple: If you rename your .mpp file, immediately check your Project Summary Task, and if it has changed, rename it back to what it was before. To do this:

  1. From the Format menu of MS Project, in the Show/Hide group, check the box for Project Summary Task so it displays as task 0.
  2. Double-click on the Task Name of the Project Summary Task.
  3. In the dialog box that pops up (see below), change the “Name” field back to the original name of the project, if that name has changed.

pst_2

Unfortunately we are all at the mercy of MS Project on this issue. We don’t know of any automated way to instruct MS Project to preserve Project Summary Task names when a file rename occurs. So please check your Project Summary Task carefully whenever you rename a .mpp file. And of course feel free to get in touch with our support team ([email protected]) if you have any questions, or if your project views start to look a little strange!

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About Nathan

Nathan Black was on the founding team of OnePager, joining as a beta tester in 2005. The product was exciting — the lack of paycheck, exciting in a different way. So he went out into the world, working as a project manager, management consultant, and academic (he was most recently a research fellow in the Government Department at Harvard University). Everywhere he went, he saw a need for more and better project management, particularly by people who don’t call themselves project managers but end up filling that role on teams and ventures large and small. In 2014, he returned to OnePager as Vice President of Solutions. His primary roles are (1) helping customers use OnePager more effectively and (2) developing new versions of the software. He is passionate about getting project visualization and reporting right, and eager to hear from project managers (in title or in reality) who feel the same way! Nathan lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Whitney and sons Ethan and Adam. They enjoy classical music, the outdoors, and politics. E-mail him at [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Getting strange results in multi-project OnePagers? Check your Project Summary Task!

  1. I have been taking the IMS offline and deleting the Project Summary line. Then I outdent summary formats to capture the needed summary levels to capture multiple programs in a multi-page OnePager. Finding this tip will save LOTS of time. Thank you!

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