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Smart Numbering Master Schedule Tasks

In a Consolidated Schedule, volatile IDs will show repeated numbers representing a task’s ID in a subproject.  This creates confusion and it is difficult to search a task by ID.  Therefore, when using a Consolidated Schedule (Master Schedule)[1], you need to differentiate one project from another.  One way to do this is to use a custom field to identify which task in a subproject you are working with.

A Product or Project Schedule UID (PS-UID) is used to uniquely identify a task by a subsystem or project identifier and a Unique ID[2].  This PS-UID smart-number is a concatenation of, usually, 2 alpha-characters Project or Subsystem and a 5 character numeric field comprised of a tasks UID (task field).  A project or subsystem designator can be hard-coded into the PS-UID formula or, if multiple projects or subsystems exist within one project file (stand-alone project file), you can use a custom text field to specify a task’s project or subsystem.  In this example, we will use Text29 to define a custom PS-UID.  When we’re done, the PS-UID field will look as follows in Fig. 1:


After selecting Formula button in Fig. 2, the Formula window appears, as shown in Fig. 3.  Enter the formula as shown in Fig. 3.  In this example, “EM” is the 2 character Project Subsystem identifier.


Remember, “EM” can be replaced with another text field if you have multiple subsystems or projects within the same project file. (E.G. Text18, for Subsystem, as shown in Fig. 4)


Note that the UID field is formatted to 5 characters for visual uniformity in field size.

Fig. 5 shows how the PS-UID looks after you select OK and insert Text29 field.


You will note that PS-UID suffix equals the UID and is different than the ID.


When used in a consolidated file, each task will be represented by its respective subproject file designator as shown in Fig. 6.


[1] Master Schedule: A Microsoft Project file that consists of multiple embedded Microsoft project files (a.k.a. Master Project and subprojects or Master Shell).

[2] The Unique ID field contains the number that Microsoft Office Project automatically designates whenever a new task, resource, or assignment is created in the current project. This number indicates the sequence in which the task, resource, or assignment was created, regardless of placement in the schedule.

Written by Angelo Arcoleo

Angelo Arcoleo, PMP,  brings over 30 years of experience in engineering, project management, planning and training.

He leads projects and teams to plan and execute critical projects utilizing his experience, quiet-leadership, passion and versatility to work with anyone.

He is a professionally trained civil engineer and has a bachelor of science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Angelo is a Master Scheduler for Harris Corp., formerly Exelis, in the Geospatial Systems Division. He holds an Orange Belt in Microsoft Office Project and is President of the Western New York Chapter of MPUG and a training consultant.

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  1. Nice use of the format technique. Thanks for the tip Angelo.

  2. Excellent idea!

  3. This process just resolved a huge issue my organization was having with tracking tasks in a Master Project with multiple projects. I do have a question for you, are the multiple projects in your Master Project linked???

  4. Master Project may or may not be linked. If you need to have inter-project dependencies, you should consider using G/RID’s (Giver / Receiver ID’s) for Giver and Receiver milestones. These are milestones that connect between or within a project and external to your Master Project file-set. I also use two flags, one for Givers the other for Receivers. That’s so I can use Up Arrows (for Givers) and Down Arrows (for Receivers) in a custom view that only depicts G/R. When in the tracking (maintenance) mode you only need to view the Givers in the G/R View because that is the important milestone. Also remember that you should only have one successor to a giver (the receiver), and only one predecessor for each receiver (the giver)

    When first developing your G/R you only need to use the flags and a “smart-prefix” for the G/RID. The smart syntax is: AABB123G or R. AA’ Giver-code, BB= Receiver-code 123 incremented numbers for the same AABB-set (starting with 001), finally G or R depending on if it’s a Giver or Receiver milestone. Once you annotate the AABBXXXG and R you can then sort to “knit” (link) the G/R milestone pairs. Then you’ll sort in chronological order and replace the XXX with incremented numbers. Remember the G/R pairs will have the same G/RID except for the last letter.

    It’s a great system and has worked well for me. Hope this helps. See me on LinkedIn for more…!

  5. Does this the formula in figures 3 and 4 work in MS Project 2010? I am getting a syntax error??

  6. The formulas do work,,,,my bad


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