How to Manage Cross-Project Task Dependencies in Microsoft Project

In project management, task dependencies are vital for ensuring that work is completed efficiently and effectively. However, managing cross-project task dependencies can be complex, particularly when dealing with multiple projects that have interdependent tasks. Microsoft Project is a powerful tool for managing projects, but it can be challenging to manage cross-project dependencies. In this article, we will explore how to manage cross-project task dependencies in Microsoft Project.

Understanding Cross-Project Dependencies

Before delving into the specifics of managing cross-project dependencies, it’s essential to understand what they are. Cross-project dependencies occur when one or more tasks within a project require input from another project. These dependencies can be sequential or parallel and can impact the timeline of both projects.

In Microsoft Project, cross-project dependencies are managed by linking the tasks in the two projects. This link creates a relationship between the tasks, which can then be used to track progress and manage resources effectively.

Linking Tasks Between Projects

Linking tasks between projects is the first step in managing cross-project dependencies in Microsoft Project. To link tasks:

  1. Open both projects in Microsoft Project.
  2. Select the task that requires input from the other project.
  3. Click on the “Predecessors” column and enter the task ID of the dependent task in the other project. For example, if Task 1 in Project A depends on Task 2 in Project B, enter “2” in the Predecessor column for Task 1.
  4. Repeat the process for all tasks that have cross-project dependencies.

Once the tasks are linked, changes made to one project will affect the linked tasks in the other project.

Updating Linked Tasks

Updating linked tasks is critical to ensure that cross-project dependencies are managed effectively. Here’s how to update linked tasks in Microsoft Project:

  1. Open both projects in Microsoft Project.
  2. Make any necessary changes to the tasks in one project.
  3. Click on the “Update Project” button on the “Project” tab.
  4. Select “Selected Projects” and then select the project you want to update.
  5. Choose the options for updating, such as whether to update only the start and finish dates or all task information.
  6. Click OK to update the linked tasks.

Using the Master Project Feature

The Master Project feature in Microsoft Project allows you to manage multiple projects as a single entity. This feature is particularly useful when managing cross-project dependencies as it enables you to view and adjust the timelines of all related projects simultaneously.

To create a Master Project in Microsoft Project:

  1. Open a new project and save it as the Master Project.
  2. Click on the “Subproject” button on the “Project” tab.
  3. Select the projects that you want to include in the Master Project.
  4. Arrange the subprojects in the desired order by dragging and dropping them in the Master Project.
  5. Once you have arranged the subprojects, save the Master Project.

You can now manage all projects included in the Master Project from a single location.

Best Practices for Managing Cross-Project Dependencies

Managing cross-project dependencies can be challenging, but the following best practices can help make the process more manageable:

  • Create a detailed project plan: A detailed project plan will help you identify potential cross-project dependencies early on, allowing you to plan accordingly.
  • Communicate with stakeholders: Regular communication with stakeholders will ensure that everyone is aware of the project’s progress and any changes that could impact cross-project dependencies.
  • Track progress regularly: Tracking progress regularly will enable you to identify any delays or issues that could impact cross-project dependencies.
  • Use project management software: Project management software like, Smartsheet, Wrike, Microsoft Project, Clarizen, GanttPRO, or ClickUp can help you manage cross-project dependencies more efficiently.


Managing cross-project task dependencies in Microsoft Project requires careful planning, tracking, and communication. However, by understanding how to link tasks between projects, update linked tasks, use the Master Project feature, and follow best practices, you can ensure that your projects run smoothly, even when dealing with complex cross-project dependencies.