In any given project, a variety of detail levels are needed:

  • executive summary
  • technical summary
  • delivery team summary
  • delivery details

How can these different levels of detail be contained and published in the same project plan (specifically using MS Project 2007) without the "higher levels" being able to drill-into the lower ones?

Is it possible with the tool, or would multiple project plans need to be kept to be able to share with the representatives of each level?

2 Answers 2



Don't be constrained by your tools. If your tool doesn't do what you want, refactor the information you plan to display.

Define Audience Expectations

In order to deliver the right view, you have to decide what's important. Adjust the presented information accordingly.

For example, for an executive meeting, I might choose to provide only major project milestones or estimated shipping dates. The executives won't care that the Foo() class needs to be embiggened in order to meet the milestone; they generally just want to know when "stuff" will be shippable to customers.

For a meeting within the project team, the full work breakdown structure might be more important, and I might even be tempted to leave shipping dates out of the presentation since they are usually management (rather than team) driven.

MS Project vs. Paper and Pencil

I would assume MS Project can filter views, and can print them as either PDFs (which can't be changed) or that you (as the presenter) can direct the conversation towards the level of detail that you want.

On the other hand, as an agile practitioner, I prefer using different artifacts to present different levels of detail. For example:

  1. For an executive view, I'd use the Product Backlog, theme/epic cards, or a project burn-down chart to represent the information.
  2. For a team view, I'd use the Sprint Backlog, a snapshot or two of the Kanban board, user stories small enough to fit in a single sprint, and a sprint burn-down chart.

Again, your mileage may vary widely on this. The important thing is to present the right data rather than allow your tools to constrain the data you're able to present.


Okay, so by project plan you mean schedule. You want to be able to share the schedule with the appropriate stakeholder at the level that stakeholder needs to see it, i.e., the executive sees the summary and major milestones while the workers sees the low level packages?

Filter. You can collapse and show whatever you want. Packages only, milestones only, hammock only, summary only. Etc.

Multiple schedules? It will cost you 10x as much to maintain those various schedules and keeping them in sync--and thus usefull--would be next to impossible on a complex project.

EDIT: I see Tiago's edit. Now I am interpreting you mean you do not want the higher levels to be able to drill down.

Well, you can always send a .pdf so they can see what you want them to see. However, my question would be...why? Are you wanting to hide things? Run as transparent as you possibly can. It will benefit you far more than ever hurt you. If a higher up wants to drill down and can't, his/her first question should be, why am I putting my trust into this PM?

  • it's not so much about "hiding" as it is that the executive sponsor doesn't need to see the 12 subparts to the subtask to the subdeliverable to the deliverable to the milestone
    – warren
    Aug 10, 2012 at 15:20
  • 1
    He doesn't need to nor does he likely want to. Executive summaries are there for a reason, because that's all they typically need to see. However, to have the ability to drill down should be available to all of your executive stakeholders. They will likely do so only when they feel the need, which is what they should do, or if you have a micromanager on your hands. Either way, I'd encourage you to keep the capability so as to be transparent as much as possible. Aug 10, 2012 at 16:09

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