Merging two schedules



  I maintain a large program schedule (superset) in MS Project. The program has multiple contractors, each having their individual schedules (subset) & these schedule form a subset of the larger program schedule. 

A large part of my work is to keep the program schedule (superset) in synch with contractor's schedule (subset). Even though the scope for contractor work remains the same, often new tasks, new relationships, etc. are created in contractor's schedule, which I need to integrate into program schedule. This is very manual and tedious process, where every task and its predecessor from contractors' schedule is mapped to program schedule. The end objective is to get the dates in program schedule align with dates in contractor's schedule. 


Is there a more efficient way to merge these two schedules?


I tried copy pasting contractor's schedule into program schedule, but it messes up the program schedule and getting it right is a bigger problem than manually integrating contractor's schedule. I use Gantt Chart Format -> Task path -> Driving Predecessor but that still manual and does not show very accurately.


5 Replies
Are the contractor schedules also in Project? If so, are they the same version of Project as the one you are using?

Are the tasks in each contractor plan also shown in your plan or is your plan just a shell? If the contractor plans are each independent then my first suggestion is to create a static master. For a static master, use the Insert Project feature with the option turned OFF that links inserted subprojects to the master. The construct becomes more complex if there are dependencies between tasks in the master and subprojects or between subprojects.

So, there is more I need to understand before I can suggest an approach, but, copy and paste would likely be my last choice.

Can you show a screenshot of a portion of your superset plan and a snippet of a contractor plan to help get an idea of how everything is integrated.

Hi John,
Yes, contractor's plans are also in Project. I am not too sure of the version, but I reckon, the solution can be independent of the version.
The tasks in the contractor plan are also shown in my plan. My plan has many phases and contractor's plan is included in one of the phases (say, construction phase). There are some organizational milestones within the construction phase, so I can't directly copy paste entire contractor's schedule inside construction phase. Its like within construction phase, a set of tasks from contractor's schedules, then few organizational approvals & milestones, then a few more of contractor's schedule and then a few more organizational approvals. This cycle repeats until construction phase is over.
Mostly each contractor's schedule is independent of other contractor's schedule.

Hope this provides some more clarity to the situation
How do the contractor schedules account for the organizational approvals and milestones? For example, do the contractor schedules have a "holding period task" while waiting for an approval?

In your schedule do you set up dependencies between their tasks and your organizational tasks? For example, let's say the contractor completes tasks "A", "B" and "C" but then needs an approval before proceeding. How do you model that in your plan? Then how do you relate that to the contractor?

From what you told me so far I think your best bet is to use the static master approach. It may require some rethinking on your part to set up the master (superset) structure but the other approach goes back to the copy/paste/review/revise process which involves a lot of time and redundancy.

Hi John,
Organizational milestones are not blocking for contractor's tasks. It's more like A, B and C are done, then contractor milestone M1 is achieved. In most cases, Contractor does not wait for the approval, and if there is an approval for which contractor has to wait, it's modelled in contractor's schedule too. The challenge is that A, B, C blows up and creating dependencies with other X, Y, Z . So in order to have the correct M1 and M2, I need to manually trace every dependency across all tasks in contractor's schedule. Are there any plug ins or any best practices available, which can make life easy ?
Is there any add-in to "make life easier"? No. You'd be asking for an add-in that automatically does project management and I'm afraid that doesn't exist. Have you considered using Project Server or Project Online which are focused on enterprise environments such as what you are describing?

If for some reason an enterprise version of Project is not an option then I suggest you step back and take a look at the current structure of your "superset" plan. Perhaps it can be re-structured such that milestones (and any other items that are not part of contractor plans) are under a separate summary at the beginning. On a periodic basis (e.g. daily, weekly, etc.) insert, without linking, each contractor schedule into your superset plan. Set up dependencies from contractor tasks to the milestones. To make searching in the contractor schedule easier, identify critical items that likely to have a milestone and ask contractors to flag those items (e.g. Flag or Text field) in the contractor's plan. That's what I would do. I might even develop an algorithm to use in a macro to help automate the process.

This is the best advice I can offer based on the limited information provided.