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@larry, ha, here i’m more interested in how the .mpp format can be extended as a dataset, than promoting it as a product. In this case, to get connectivity -plus- portfolio calculations on the cheap…
But to your point here:
"MS Project is a great tool, but can be a bit cumbersome if one person is opening and updating every one, and a 50 project master project can be unwieldy."
I would always use Master/Subs in these cases. Why? One person can update all projects/towers by just opening up the Master plan. It’s just like having a single Excel file in this case, as you just scroll through the rollups. If you have 50 PMs + 1 Lead PM on the case, and each PM is responsible for one project/tower, the dataset is segmented for each, while the Lead can access it all in one go. How else would you do this? (After all, each project/tower will eventually diverge into a discrete data set, and the differences between the project/towers become extremely important during any analysis of overall performance.)
So, If you have say 5 PMS, each with 10 projects/towers (or any other algebraic variation), each PM (in about 10 minutes) can easily create their own Master file to see stats across only their own designated projects/towers.
I’ve worked with two teams that have done precisely this here in Nepal, as they put up solar lampposts and solar-wind sensing towers. The teams even used a cloud service to store all of their .mpp files, so they could be networked to the field and updated using iPhones/tablets (that’s where http://www.projectplan365.com came in, which provided an iOS client).
Problems with Master/Subproject plans? Sure! In one portfolio I was hired to troubleshoot, updates where being posted to a shared Dropbox account, but when the Internet connection is slow, you get DB conflicts and the entire plan can quickly become a mess if you are not good at sorting file conflicts. Same when using a shared resource pool in the cloud, and the files are in Dropbox or Google Docs – I think that MSP is processing multiple file changes in real-time, and some cloud services just can’t deal. I have tested PP365 in this scenario, as they have something called Drive 365 that acts like Dropbox, and that seemed to sort out the cloud-file conflict problem.
Of course, all of this could be avoided if one has a budget for MSP / Sharepoint Server or whatever else MS is cooking up as far as 365 subscription services go, but that would be just about no one here in Nepal:) Cheers, Jigs