Project and Portfolio Management Practitioners Forum
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Subprojects in a functional organization

Ricardo Jaime
Acclaimed Contributor

Subprojects in a functional organization


We have PPM implemented in a functional organization, as described on the PMI’s PMBOK. In this organizational structure, a project that involves various departments is divided in such a way that each department does its project work independent of other departments.

So we have large projects, each with several subprojects. The department that initiated the project is responsible for:

1) Executing only his project part.

2) Coordinating the start and end dates of all subprojects.

At each department, the subproject is treated as an individual project, only having to comply with the start and end dates. In general, a department's subproject leader coordinates a vendor. This subproject leader with the vendor uses a MS Project file to monitor the project.

We would like to use PPM project management and have visibility of the whole project. At the same time we need to give certain independency to each department to execute its subproject.

We have considered two options for using project management on PPM:

Alternative 1: Create a single Project with summary tasks that have other’s department subproject leaders assigned as summary task owners to represent subprojects: This way we can achieve visibility of the entire project schedule. The problem is that this option does not allow the summary task owner to synchronize only his part of the project with his MS Project file. The workaround would be to send the MS Project file to the "Project Manager" to merge it. There is also a requirement to do not allow the subproject leader to change the subproject end date without a formal approval. This is not possible with summary tasks, because the summary task owner can schedule tasks going beyond the original summary task end date. This end date should be altered only by the lead PM.

Alternative 2: Create one main project for consolidation and one project for each subproject. Each subproject would be represented on the main project either as a single task or a milestone, manually setting start and end dates. This way the subproject leader can synchronize his MS Project file with PPM. But there would be no simple way to maintain synchronized the subprojects start and end dates on the project. We considered adding External Predecessors (having predecessor tasks of other projects) but when synchronizing with MS Project, these are lost. Lastly, we would also face the problem of not having a consolidated work plan visibility.

Please, if anyone has faced a similar problem or has an alternative, sharing would be greatly appreciated.


Sascha Mohr
Esteemed Contributor

Re: Subprojects in a functional organization

Hello Ricardo,
we face the same situation and we have also identified the two alternatives. Number 2 is an option as soon as you can motivate the users to use PPM for project management instead of MSP.
One other option would be to create a program for the main project and include the subprojects in this program. Then try using the standard portlets (project gantt, program project list etc.) to create the visibility you need. It may be necessary to make sure the sub-projects comply to a basic formal policy (mandatory milestones on a certain project level).
Acclaimed Contributor

Re: Subprojects in a functional organization

Hi Sascha,

We implemeted the program mangement module the way you have described. Is there any way that we can get a master project plan from multiple projects in a program?

If we want to check the resource usage to check whether any resource is over allocated in the program, is there any report that is available out of the box or do we need to write a custom report for this.

Kribin Moodley
Occasional Advisor

Re: Subprojects in a functional organization

Good evening ,


I am faced with a similar problem where we have separate workplan for different departments working on a single project. The approach to use separate Projects with workplans was to provide each department with their own staffing profiles, financial summaries, scenario based planning as well as lifecycles to follow.


My challenge at the moment is rolling up task information from the lower level plans into the overall workplan.Using "External Tasks" is helpful to show the dependencies but does not resolve the problem of viewing an overall project workplan with a Critical Path and overall Project Health.


Any advise or guidence on how you were able to resolve this would be appreciate or a better approach that I can look at.

//Add this to "OnDomLoad" event