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I have used Microsoft Project previously, but not in any great depth. I have oversight for a number of projects and have created a master project file that includes the top level work items for each project along with the resources responsible for that work.

Each project is represented by a parent task with a number of indented sub tasks for the work involved in that project.

The difficultly I have is maintenance - resources are shared between projects, so in order to effectively level the project file there is a large amount of shuffling backwards and forwards to get everything appropriately positioned.

Then reality hits...

Work is delayed due to unforeseen issues or an entire project is moved back by a few months, due to changing client priorities.

At the moment it feels as if I will be constantly having to build the master project file from scratch in order to properly assess it's validity, as moving a project out / extending the tasks within that project will cause over-allocation in other areas.

What am I doing wrong? Presumably Microsoft Project is designed to solve these very issues. Are there any hints and tips for creating a robust schedule that can be easily manipulated in line with day to day changes in priority.

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It reads like you are chasing a baseline. Are your project schedulers and project control folks centralized or dispersed within the projects? Chasing a leveled resource utilization plan is a waste of time. You level your resources to a degree (read, not perfectly) at the initial schedule planning and baseline. After that, forget about it.

Are you using the import function of MSProject? Or did you create a separate integrated master schedule trying to marry it up with the projects' schedules?

If you do not have a centralized schedule/control function, say within a PMO, you might want to consider that. That way, you can implement and enforce a set of standard capabilities to estimate, plan, schedule, baseline, and change your IMS and PMB (integrated master chedule and performance measurement baseline). MSProject has functionality weaknesses but it can be done with standard processes and controls.

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