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How to link to a predecessor in a different Microsoft Project plan

With multiple projects in a portfolio, it is sometimes necessary to create dependencies between tasks in different Microsoft Project files. This article will show you how to link to a predecessor in a different project plan.

Linking Predecessors and Successors Across Multiple Project Files

  1. In this example, we have two Microsoft Project files, called "Project A" and "Project B". We have combined the two sub-projects into a master project file to make it easier to see everything in one place, but using a master project file is not a requirement to create cross-project dependencies:

    Master project file containing two subprojects.

  2. Notice that there are already some predecessors set up in both of the project plans. Several of the tasks in "Project A" depend on each other, as do several of the tasks in "Project B". However, there are not yet any links between the two projects:
    Predecessors in each project plan.
  3. Let's say that we want to create a link between the two projects so that the first task in "Project B" doesn't start until the last task in "Project A" finishes.

    To do this, we need to create a Finish-to-Start dependency, but instead of only typing the Task ID into the Predecessors field, we need to type both the Project Filename and the Line Number of the predecessor task:

    Reference the first project plan in the Predecessors field.

    Here is the syntax that you need to use:

    \\[Project Filename]\[Line Number]

    In this example, we reference the filename of "Project A", which happens to be "Project A.mpp", and after the backslash, we reference the line number of the predecessor task, which in this case is the third line. You'll notice that "Project B" also has a line #3, which is why we have to specify the project filename. Otherwise, it won't be clear whether we are linking line #3 from the first project or the second project.

  4. Press Enter. Microsoft Project will double-check that your filename is correct, and will probably convert it to a full file path like this.

    File path to first project plan.

  5. Notice how all of the tasks in "Project B" have now shifted based on the link back to "Project A":

    Dependency between tasks in different project plans.

  6. If you would like to review all of the dependencies for a given task, double-click on that task (e.g. "Task 4" in "Project B") and click over to the Predecessors tab. You'll see all predecessors for the task in question, plus which project plan those predecessors are coming from:

    Microsoft Project Predecessors Editor

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