Create a Master Schedule

What is a master schedule?
Master schedule considerations
Creating a common format
Create the master schedule
Common questions
 
What is the best way to implement a system that combines different users' Milestones Professional schedules into a single "master schedule?" This is a popular question with more than one valid answer. This paper poses a "best practices" method for implementing a master scheduling system.
 
What is a master schedule?   
A Milestones Professional master schedule is a compilation of separate Milestones Professional schedules (sub-schedules). Usually, the sub-schedules are each maintained by different people, each responsible for one project. Thus, the master schedule gives a view of all projects.
 
Changes to data in the sub-schedules appear in the master schedule. Any changes to the master schedule will not appear in the sub-schedules.
Projects 1 and 2 as sub-schedules  (click images to enlarge)
Projects 1 and 2 in master schedule
  
Things to consider before creating a master schedule system
  • The typical use of a master schedule is to see the progress of selected projects in a single Milestones Professional file.
  • All sub-schedules should have the same format, especially column types and locations (exceptions are discussed in Common Questions section below). Create a template or blank chart to meet this need.
  • If changes are made to a master schedule, those changes are not retained when it is updated with the latest sub-schedule data.
  • All sub-schedules should follow an agreed-upon hierarchy when displaying various levels of detail. Even agreeing on the names of the various project stages is a good idea. For example, in all sub-schedules, level 1 could be the project name, level 2 as the phase level, and level 3 as the task level.
  • If the master schedule is to contain a single summary row for all merged projects, then all sub-schedules need to begin at outline level 2.  This allows for a Level 1 roll-up summary of all projects in the master schedule.
  • Sub-schedules should be saved in a static location, such as a network folder, to ensure the master schedule has access to the latest sub-schedules' data. As always, be sure to frequently back-up these files.
 
Resources: Movie: Master schedule overview
 
Create a common format using a template or blank chart
By creating a schedule template or blank chart, and using it for all sub-schedules, the format is consistent and ensures that sub-schedules will merge successfully into the master schedule. Distribute a copy of the template or blank chart to each person entering project data into a sub-schedule.

Learn more about the differences between a chart and a template.
 
Format a schedule to meet your needs. Focus especially on these areas:
  • Column properties (e.g. End Date SmartColumn, text column, Duration SmartColumn, etc.)
  • Where each column will be positioned
  • Toolbox settings
  • Legend settings (under Layout tab|Legend Size section|choose Full Legend Settings)
  • Schedule's start date and end date (under Dates tab|Start and End Dates section)
  • Date headings (click directly on the Headings the toolbar will change to show all heading options)
  • ValueSets and DataGraphs for graphing values
  • Color theme for shading by outline level
  • Summary bar settings (under Layout tab| Other section|Summary Bar Settings)

To distribute a template:
  1. Save it (File tab|Files and Templates: Open and Save Options section|Save As File|Standard Template).
  2. Distribute it to everyone who will be creating a sub-schedule.
  3. Have each person save it to .../KIDASA /Milestones/Standard Templates.
  4. Each user can open it under File tab|Files and Templates: Open and Save Options section|Open a File|Standard Templates.
  5. Save it as a chart, under a new name, to the agreed-upon folder.
  To distribute a blank chart:
  1. Save it (File tab|Files and Templates: Open and Save Options section| Save As File | Chart).
  2. Distribute it to everyone who will be creating a sub-schedule.
  3. Each recipient can open it under File tab|Files and Templates: Open and Save Options section|Open a File|Chart.
  4. Save it as a chart, under a new name, to the agreed-upon folder.

Why is a common format so important?

If one sub-schedule contains columns of duration values, percents complete, and end dates, and another sub-schedule contains columns of baseline dates and task names, then the master schedule will not know which columns to display. Thus, all schedules should have columns of the same format and placement.
 
In this example, all sub-schedules and the master schedule would have this basic format:
After each person populates his sub-schedule, it's recommended that the schedule be saved to a shared network folder and that the name of the sub-schedule is passed along to the keeper of the master schedule.
 
Create the master schedule
Using the template or blank chart created in the previous step:
  1. Choose File tab|Master/Update section|Master Schedule
  2. Check Treat the Current Schedule as a Master Schedule.
  3. Click the Add Schedule button.
  4. Browse to find the first sub-schedule to appear in the master schedule and click Open.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until all sub-schedules are added.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Choose File tab|Master/Update section|Update Master Schedule, Linked Symbols|Master Schedule
  8. A dialog box appears listing the success or failure of each sub-schedule's merge into the master schedule.

 

An "update failed" message may indicate that the sub-schedule has been moved, deleted or renamed; thus, the importance of saving all sub-schedules to a common folder.
 
Common questions
In my sub-schedule, I want to track additional column data, not included in the master schedule merge. Can I do this?
Yes. Just be sure to add the additional columns to the far left or far right, outside the standard columns which will be merged into the master schedule. The master schedule will ignore those extra columns.
  
My master schedule serves as a "Friday Report" to management. How can I keep a historical record of each week's report?
Each week, save the schedule under a new name, for example "Projects Report 11 March 03.ml7". Then choose File | Master Schedule and uncheck Treat the Current Schedule as a Master Schedule. That way, your original master schedule will be updated, yet the newly named "historical" schedule for that week will not be updated.
  
Now that we have distributed the schedule format, we want to change the format. How can we do that?
Save the new format as a template. Have each person apply that template to his current sub-schedule. But first, have them back-up the schedule in case the template makes unwanted changes to the schedule.

NOTE: This can only be done if the template changes are minor. For example, extensive column properties and column ordering changes which are saved in the new template and then applied to an existing schedule may have adverse effects on the existing schedule. In another example, if the template changes are made to the Toolbox symbology, this new template can be applied to the sub-schedules without adversely affecting the schedule data.