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Master Project Files in Microsoft Project

How to link subprojects into a master project file

This article illustrates how to import multiple subprojects into a master project plan, or integrated master schedule, in Microsoft Project.

Linking Subprojects into a Master Project File

  1. Start with a new Microsoft Project plan. To create one, click on the Blank Project button:
    Create a blank Microsoft Project Plan.
  2. Once your blank project has been created, go to the Project tab and click on Subproject:
    Subproject button in Microsoft Project.
  3. Using your mouse, Ctrl+Left-Click to select all of the Microsoft Project files (*.mpp) that you want to include in your master project file. You can select multiple files at once. Once you have chosen all of the files that you need, click the Insert button to import all of the files into a single master project:
    Import multiple MPP files into a master project file.

    In the example above, it's easy to select all of the files at once because they are in the same folder. If your MPP files are scattered across different folders, or even on network drives, it's ok. You can perform a series of inserts--one from each folder--to achieve the same effect.

  4. You should now have a Microsoft Project master file (sometimes referred to as an "Integrated Master Schedule" or "IMS" that lists all of the project files that you've imported:
    Multiple MPP files imported into a single master project file
  5. If you want to see the details of a specific project, left-click on the arrow next to the project name, and Microsoft Project will expand the project plan so that you can see all of the tasks and milestones, instead of only the project summary:
    Click to drill down into the details of each individual Microsoft Project plan.
  6. You can also save your Microsoft Project IMS so that you don't have to build it again next time. Master Project files can be saved just like individual Microsoft Project plans. Go to File > Save:
    Save your Master Project File

Advantages of Master Project Files

PMOs that manage multiple projects file master project files useful for the following reasons:

  • See all project activity at a high level
  • Create cross-project dependencies to create relationships between multiple projects
  • Calculate the critical path across the entire project portfolio
  • Manage resources across projects for an entire organization