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I'm currently trying to figure out how to best organize my customer projects. In a nutshell, I have quite a few projects (about 3-7 a week, in parallel), they may last for several weeks but the number of tasks is relatively small, the assigned resources are always the same.

These projects are not directly related with each other. Often, the topic is the same so I guess it would make sense to create a template. But the customer always changes and the projects don't interlink.

Still, it would be very helpful to get a consolidated view of all the tasks in a Gantt chart to quickly recognize if the resources are used in a balanced way. For example, if there are two tasks of 4 hours each on the same day and the day before or the day after is still free, I'd might shift one of the tasks to one of the free days if the project allows it, to reduce unnecessary strain on the project resource.

Since master/subproject doesn't seem to be the correct approach, Microsoft writes about "consolidated projects" as an other option. Here is how they explain it:

Use consolidated files if you have multiple files you would like to combine in one window, whether the files are related or not. Combining unrelated files in a consolidated project makes it easier to see information from multiple projects in various views and to print them. You might consolidate project files if you must keep track of many ongoing projects, such as when you are developing different products at the same time. You can sort and group by product names, project deadlines, and managers in order to find and evaluate the specific information that you need. For example, you can print a Gantt Chart view that includes all your projects.

Unfortunately, MS does not elaborate how to do this. Reading some other guides, I tried the following. I created two stand-alone projects. Then, I went to View -> New Windows, selecting both projects for a "Gantt with Timeline View". It then complains that it cannot find the inserted project and shows a file open dialog.

Since this "new view" process anyway seems to create a new project file, I just saved this file as a new project and then inserted the projects I wish to see consolidated. But this seems to create a master file, removing the sub projects from the project list in PWA.

I have two closely related questions at this stage. First, how are you supposed to consolidate non-related project files per Microsoft's description and is there a difference to regular master projects? Secondly, what is the recommendable way to achieve the goal I described with managing multiple, non-related projects in parallel and still have the ability to view the consolidated impact on a resource calendar?

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