Inserted projects, external links and file corruption

The following are our recommendations around inserted projects, external links and file corruption. To summarize, we recommend not to use inserted files for now till we get SP1 installed but external links should be fine now. External links is a robust feature of Project Server and is not known to cause file corruption and other system problems. Inserting projects is an known problem and was supposed to have been fixed late in 2007 release and carrying forward into 2010 release.

It appears to me, inserted Projects may be the cause of the issues in the Isotopes file combined with the fact that the 2003 projects did not round trip through PS 2007 and combined with the fact that the Project Pro client is at a different patch level than the server. If SP1 does not clear up the issues, then we will have to look at passing the files through Project Pro 2007 somehow to remove the remnants of Project Pro 2003 such as what I found in resource pool of Isotopes master file.

Tip No 1 How to stop external links from re-scheduling my file?

When opening a file from Server or from drive that has an external link, the following window pops up. Clicking all, or accept will reschedule the current project, respecting external links. Choose Close (see graphic below) to ignore external links and not reschedule your project based on the external links. So if you open an out of date archived file from your drive, it will look for the links on the server, just click close to ignore them or it may alter history in current schedule. I will not affect the server schedule.

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Tip No 2 Why does is always ask me to save an inserted project even when no change is made?

In the same scenario as above, but with inserted files, when closing master project why does it ask to save the sub projects even if you did not make any changes to them? Because when opening the master with the inserted files, the Project Pro scheduling engine actually forces a reschedule of all files including master and inserted files. Even if there are no schedule changes to the inserted sub file, it still asks to save because some underlying system data was changed but not always the schedule.

Tip no 3. Should you remove external links in files saved to a drive.

If you save a file off of the server to a drive for archiving or version purposes, some people say it is a best practice to remove the links in an effort to not affect the scheduling of the project or the linked projects later on.  If you remove the links in the archived file you are altering history and the ability to re-generate the file if needed later. It is also very time consuming to remove the links and is prone to errors if they need to be put back. For these reasons, I recommend to not remove the links in files that users save to drives for archiving and versions purposes.

Tip 3A External links accidently rescheduling a Master Project

You could implement a tighter security model to prevent a project with external links to another person’s project, to accidently reschedule projects. This is my recommended approach to implementing Project Server with external links because it eliminates problems such as unwanted and unknown external links changing dates causing critical path problems without the PM even knowing about it. If you are a small, close nit organization, you probably do not need this level of control, but at larger organization’s I have always implemented the tighter approach where only the PM can write to his or her file.

Tip No 4 External Links without inserted projects

It is also interesting to note that external links can be used without inserted projects in a smother way than with inserted projects. PM’s typically use inserted projects to set up Master and sub-projects by inserting several projects into a master, this step is not needed to use the external links feature. Inserted projects is a great feature and should be ok to use after SP1 if we get positive testing results. I am not saying do not use but rather they are not necessary in order to do Master and Sub Project scheduling. Since you now have a numbering scheme and tagging, you can make reports to display the Master/sub project data and inserting projects becomes redundant.

Since you do not have a tight security model, inserted projects are set to read only by the user who inserts the project, this way a link will not accidently get added to a sub project. Keep in mind, the sub project scheduler cannot add a link to the Master Schedule and vice versa unless both are opened in read/write mode on the desktop weather inserted or not.

Tip No 5 One sided links

You can also add an external link only on one side of the equation, in other words any project can contain a link to any other project and the link does not have to be in both files for it to work in your favor. A one sided link is great for the Master Scheduler, he/she can add finish to start links in the Project Master Schedule from c schedule to help determine impact to Master Schedule without having the consent of the sub project scheduler (he will not be aware of the link and will not need to care because it will not affect his schedule).

Tip No 5A PM is prompted to create external link when one sided link appears.

The supporting or sub project scheduler can add a one sided link to his file from the master and control their schedule without affecting the master until both files are opened together at the same time in read/write mode then the tool will ask the PM to create an external link and he can accept or reject.

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