Importing and Exporting Projects from MS Project

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Project managers and project creators


If you know and love Microsoft Project desktop and would like to continue to leverage this tool. Or if you simply have some project schedules in MSP and would like to import them into Project Insight, then this training will help you. Project managers and project schedulers will benefit, however other team members are welcome too. We walk through the steps of the import process and the options. See why Project Insight has the most powerful MSP import of any mid-market PPM solution.


  • Understand how to leverage Microsoft Project schedules in Project Insight
  • Know about the many import options
  • Learn the best practices of importing and exporting

Key Points


Our training session today covers how to import and export projects from Microsoft Project within Project Insight.

Project Insight has full project scheduling functionality built-in as part of its core features so you don’t require a separate tool like Microsoft Project to create your schedules. You can do it all in Project Insight.

However, some organizations have previous investments in Microsoft Project. For example, there might be project managers who are experts in Microsoft Project that would like to leverage that desktop tool.

Organizations may also have project schedules already developed in Microsoft Project that they would like to import into Project Insight. Or they may have external clients or vendors who still require schedules in Microsoft Project format.

This functionality enables you to continue to use Microsoft Project while leveraging the key benefits of an enterprise project management system.

Import a Project from Microsoft Project

You can import a project schedule from Microsoft Project during the creation of a new project or you can also edit an existing project and import a Microsoft Project schedule to update existing tasks, delete tasks or add new ones.

Let’s start with importing a project schedule from Microsoft Project during the creation of a new project.

Click on the Projects folder in the left navigation or select whatever folder you want to create the new project in.

You must be assigned the System Role of Project Creator in order to be able to create projects in Project Insight.

Hover on the Add icon and select Project.

The Project Add/Edit form appears.

You can click the Collapse left navigation icon to give you more screen real estate to work with.

You must enter the name of the new project. This can be the same name as Microsoft Project file if you wish or you can enter something different if you have other standard naming conventions.

Type in HR System.

The next important field, is the Scheduled Start Date. You can see that it defaults to the today’s date but you can change this. There are also options that you can set during the import to over-rid this and use the project scheduled start date from the Microsoft Project file instead.

During the add process, you can also set the default Work Calendar for the project, however, there is also an option that can override this during the import so you use the Microsoft Project calendars instead. These options will be covered in a few minutes.

Enter any other project details as you need to, but the Name is the only required field that you need to enter in order to create the project.

Before you save though, you can see at the bottom of the Project Add/Edit form that there is an option to import from Microsoft Project XML or MPP file.

You can import 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013 or higher Microsoft Project type files. We recommend importing MSP XML files as this process is the fastest.

Click on that option to import an MSP XML or MPP file.

Click Save.

The Import Microsoft Project File form appears.

There is help text showing at the top of the screen and also in the section below.

It is recommended that the Microsoft Project file you are importing is not linked to other projects, and is not using a shared resource pool.

The first step is to select the file to import.

Click the Browse button.

Select the MPP file or XML file to import.

If you choose XML, it must be a Microsoft Project XML file. That’s because Microsoft Project has certain naming conventions on fields and those are used by the import. It cannot be an XML file without those standards.

Then you need to select the Upload Type.

Click on the drop down to see the two options which are,

Update Entire Project

Only Add New Tasks

When creating a new project schedule, you want to Update the Entire Project.

If you had an existing project already created and you only wanted to import new tasks that were added since the last time you imported the file, then you could do that as well.

Click Update the Entire Project.

Click Upload.

Mapping Resources and Resource Types/Roles

The Microsoft Project file is uploaded into the system and the data from the file is reviewed.

You can see that it has determined the number of tasks that will be added. If you were updating an existing project, additional information may be displayed such as the number of tasks edited or deleted.

Upon import, you have the option to map both resource and resource types/roles. Microsoft Project has only one field, but Project Insight has two fields, one for the resource name and one for the resource type or skill set. So, if your MS Project file has names in it, Project Insight will map those resource names to the same names in Project Insight. If your MS Project file has resource types in it, that are the same as the ones in Project Insight, those will map.

You may change the resource name and resource type/role mapping at this time. This is a best practice as it will save you time.

Mapping Resources

You will see listed the resources set up in the Microsoft Project resource pool.

These resources may or may not be assigned to actual tasks on the schedule, but they are in the Microsoft Project resource pool which is why they appear here.

You have the option to map resources from the Microsoft Project resource pool to resources in Project Insight.

When possible, Project Insight will try to match resources in the Microsoft Project file to the Project Insight resources.

If it is unable to do that, then the mappings will be blank for the resource being imported and you will want to map the names now.

Click on the drop down for a mapping assignment that’s blank.

Choose the resource to assign.

If you don’t want to map resources from Microsoft Project to Project Insight, then you can uncheck this option.

If you are creating a new project and you uncheck this option, then no resources will be assigned to any of the tasks. The Microsoft Project resources will be ignored. You would use the Project Insight resourcing functions to assign them later on.

If you are updating an existing project and you uncheck this option, the resource assignments as they are currently set on the Project Insight schedule will be left as they are and again any resources in the Microsoft Project file are ignored. You would do this, if you changed the resource assignments in Project Insight but not in the Microsoft Project schedule and you wanted to preserve those assignments.

Leave this option checked on.

Finish mapping the resources that are blank if you are able to.

If you don’t enter a mapping, then no resource will be assigned.

Partially Mapped Task Assignment Handling

You can also configure how to handle tasks that have more than one resource assigned and at least one of those resources maps to a resource in Project Insight and also one of the resources does not map to a resource in Project Insight.

Click on the drop down.

The first option is to assign all unmapped work to the other assignees on the task.

If you choose this option, it will take the total number of unassigned work and divide it evenly to the amount the assigned resources.

The next option is to remove unmapped work completely from the task which will reduce the number of work hours.

Finally, you can assign any unmapped work to a certain resource.

Click on that option to select it.

You can see that you then need to identify the resource to use for that unmapped work. You may have setup a placeholder resource such as an admin type resource that you may use.

Remember, again this option only refers to those tasks with multiple resources.

Enable Import Microsoft Project Resource Assigned Rates to Project Insight Assignments

If you had assigned rates to the resources in the Microsoft Project file, you will also have an option showing on this import form called: Enable import Microsoft Project resource assigned rates to Project Insight assignments.

You will also have three columns showing: the Imported Rate and checkboxes for Apply as Burden Rate and Apply as Bill Rate.

Project Insight has its own flexible and business process specific methodology for determining rates. It is recommended that you use the rate flow that your administrators have already setup in Project Insight and you do that by leaving this option unchecked.

However, you can check it, to have Project Insight use those rates that are set up in the Microsoft Project File.

You can then check the option to set the rate as either the burden or cost rate or the bill rate for that resource. These settings are specific to this one project only.

If the Microsoft Project file doesn’t have rates, this option will not show at all and neither will these columns.

Uncheck the option, to use the Project Insight rates.

Mapping Resource Types/Roles

The next setting you have is the Resource Type/Role Mapping.

Click on the Resource Type/Role Mapping tab.

Project Insight uses the concept of resource types and roles to do enterprise resource management. For example, on a task, you can set the resource type/role that is required to do the work is as graphic artist.

Project Insight can then tell you what resources can do graphic artist work and that are available to work on that project.

You can also do resource planning by resource types/roles.

In Microsoft Project, a resource can be assigned to a resource group. During the import, Project Insight will take any MSP resource group assigned to the resource and try and match it to a resource/type role in Project Insight. If it matches, for example, the Microsoft Project Resource Group matches a Project insight Resource Type/Role, then that resource will be mapped to that resource type roles. If the resource group in MSP does not match any PI resource type/roles, then no mapping will occur and it has to be mapped manually.

For example, your first resource may be a Graphic Artist.

Click on the drop down for the maps to resource type/role and select Graphic Artist.

Now for any tasks that this resource is assigned to the resource type/role required for that task will be set as a Graphic Artist.

Set the Resource Type/Roles for the other resources.

If you don’t want to set resource types/roles on tasks, just uncheck the Import and Map Resource Types/Roles to the Task Level Resource Type/Role setting.

Leave it checked for now.

Understand Project and Task Import Options

Now that you have the resources mapped and the resource types/roles mapped, you can also configure other import options.

Project Import Options

Click on the Project Import Options.

Scheduled Start Date

The first option you can set is whether or not to use the scheduled start date that was set in the Microsoft Project file.

Next to this option, it displays the Microsoft Project schedule start date so you know what it is.

Click on the option to set the Scheduled Start Date to that date.

Leave it unchecked if you just want to use the Scheduled Start Date that you entered when you added the project.

Default Workdays and Times

In Project Insight, you can set up your project calendars with the work days and work times and configure this to work according to your business processes. When you created the project, you set the default calendar to use.

However, you can also set default workdays and times in the Microsoft Project file.

You can see what those are next to the option.

Check the option, Import Microsoft Project default workdays & times to use the ones set in the Microsoft Project file.

Leave it unchecked if you want to use the default calendars set up in Project Insight.

Non-Default Workdays

In Project Insight, you can also set the non-working days, such as holidays or non-standard work time.

Those can also be set in the Microsoft Project file.

Check the option, Import the Microsoft Project non-default workdays to use the ones set in the Microsoft Project file.

Leave it unchecked if you want to use the default non-workdays setup in Project Insight.

Normally, you would leave it unchecked, because all your non-workdays are going to be already defined in Project Insight. If there was some special anomaly on workdays for this project then you may want to import it.

Calendar Options

The next three options are more advanced settings to accommodate specific circumstances and legacy settings and are not used on a regular basis.

You can review the details on each of these and click on the options if they apply to you.

Synchronize the Resources "Resource/Type Role" Designation on the Project with the Microsoft Project "Group" field

You can click on the last option. Synchronize the resources "Resource/Type Role" designation on the project with the Microsoft Project "Group" field option to synchronize those fields.

Leave it unchecked if you don’t want to do that.

Save the Current Options

If you are doing Microsoft Project file imports quite often and you want to use the same settings each time, click on the Save the current options as my default options for future Microsoft Project imports on all projects in the system.

The system will then set these as the defaults for each import but you can override them.

Task Import Options

Click on the Task Import Options.

This is where you set options for task level importing.

Percent Complete

One recommended best practice is that you create your project schedules in Microsoft Project but then manage them in Project Insight, so that all your stakeholders can see updates and the information that is centralized, visible and available for portfolio reporting.

However, if you are updating % complete values in the Microsoft Project plan and you want to import those, check the option to Import the Microsoft Project task % Complete values.

Project Task Actual Start and End Dates

If you were entering task actual start and end dates in the Microsoft Project plan and you want to import those, check this option.

We see this used for projects in progress upon initial purchase of Project Insight, otherwise, again it is a best practice to provide all updates in the Project Insight project management software.

New Tasks only, Perform no Updates or Deletes

If you are updating an existing project schedule, then you can ensure that tasks are imported as new tasks only and no updates or deletes are performed on existing tasks in the Project Insight schedule.

Check on that option to turn it on.

You will get an informational message that explains that by doing this, some other data won’t be imported. For this import, click cancel to not turn this option on.

Split Task Settings

You can check the option to import any split task settings you have.

Task Specific Work Calendars

Task specific calendars might occur when a task has a resource that has a different work schedule or the task requires longer hours or is a highly compressed task for the project.

You can check the option to update task specific work calendars.

Save the Current Options

You can click on the Save the current options as my default options for future Microsoft Project imports on all projects in the system to have these settings remembered for the next time you import a Microsoft Project file.

For now, uncheck all these options.

Now click Save to finish the import process.

The project will be created with the imported data.

Click on the project name to see those details.

Expand out the summary tasks by clicking on the arrow next to them.

You can see the Resource mapping that was done.

You can also see the Resource Type/Role mapping that was done.

To do that, click the Display Options icon.

Click on the Column Selection Options bar to collapse or expand that section if it was not showing.

Scroll down to the R section in the available columns.

Double click on the column to move it to the Selected Columns.

Click on the Resource Type/Role.

Click the Up arrow to move it up to position it next to the Resources column.

Click the Update Display icon.

You can now see the Resource Type/Role mapping that was done as well.

And you can also see any task dependencies and relationships.

That’s how to import a Microsoft Project file.

How to Export a Project

You can also export a project from Project Insight to a Microsoft Project file.

To do that, you need to be in the Project Task List View which is what is showing now or you can get to it by hovering on the Views menu and selecting Task List.

You can also be in the Gantt Chart View.

When you’re on either of those two views, you will have the Export icon visible.

Hover on that and you can see that there are several options, exporting to Microsoft Excel files and

Export to Microsoft Project

Export to Microsoft Project XML

It is recommended to import and export to XML formats instead of MPP format.

Click on Export to Microsoft Project XML.

You’ll then get a prompt to open or save that mpp file.

Save it with the same name.

That’s it. You have exported the project to Microsoft Project format.

If you like working with MS Project, you may initially create a project in Microsoft Project, but then when you are ready to assign resources, do forecasting and planning or start work on the project, import it and then you and your team should update everything within Project Insight.

Import and Export – Do’s and Don’ts

Project Insight follows the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) best practices for scheduling as does Microsoft Project, therefore the scheduling algorithms for each system calculate closely.

However, there are a few differences and a few do’s and don’ts, and the best place to get information about that is an article in the Project Insight community that contains a list of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Microsoft Project import.

To access that article, hover on the help button and select Project Insight Community.

In the Search box, type Microsoft Project Import & Export Frequently Asked Questions.

Click Search.

The topic will appear. Click on the topic name to see the details.

The first question is Does Project Insight Import & Export all of my data from Microsoft Project?

You can read that: Project Insight imports and exports all of the durations, work hours, assignments, percent allocations and predecessors lead and lag time and task splits. Project Insight imports the project default calendar and the calendars for resources in the Microsoft Project file.

Then the next few paragraphs detail some differences, so you can read through that.


One important area where Project Insight and Microsoft Project differ and which could affect your schedule is on milestone type tasks.

This is the next topic.

Project Insight enables you to set up a task that has a duration of greater than 0 days, for example 1 day, and still have a resource assigned to it with 0 hours. This scenario is often used for milestone type tasks.

Microsoft Project does not allow this. In Microsoft Project, if a resource has 0 hours, then the task duration automatically gets set to 0 hours too.

This can cause a discrepancy in the scheduled dates of your project because Project Insight will allow the task to have a duration while Microsoft Project will not. In Microsoft Project, the milestone task’s successors would start at the same time the milestone task is scheduled to start, while in Project Insight the milestone successor tasks would start after the milestone, not at the same time.

To avoid this situation, you would need to type in some hours for the resources on a milestone task in Microsoft Project to have Microsoft Project retain the duration.

Can I Import & Export then Re-Import?

There is also a section on the process of importing, exporting, making changes and then re-importing.

Basically the rule is that when you are re-importing from the original file, or re-importing from an exported file, you must always have the original Microsoft Project file you used to create the project the first time, or you must have the original Microsoft Project file that was created by Project Insight when you export.

You may not copy and paste the tasks out of the file created by Project Insight into another file and successfully re-import the project.

The reasons for that are detailed.

Task Splits

If you use Task Splits, there is a topic about how that works, basically Project Insight can handle splits 15 minutes or less but Microsoft Project can’t, so the rule is to never split tasks by less than one day if you want to use it with Microsoft Project.

Cross Project Dependencies

Project Insight has functionality to create cross project dependencies which Microsoft Project has well. However, during an import, there is no way to Project Insight to maintain cross project dependencies setup in Microsoft Project, so if you are using cross project dependencies then set those up in Project Insight after you import the individual Microsoft Project files.

MS Project Import/Export with Custom Work Calendars Limitations

It is recommended to set calendars to be the same in both Microsoft Project and Project Insight, and always use the Project Insight calendars. If you do start making changes to calendars, you must make those changes in both systems.

MS Project Constraint Type as Late as Possible

Project Insight does not support the constraint type as late as possible. To avoid this, schedule the task in Microsoft Project with a predecessor relationship instead.

Don’t Rename Tasks

One additional don’t rule to keep in mind, is - don’t rename tasks in your Microsoft Project file if you want to re-import changes made in that file.

You want to make sure you don’t change the name of tasks in the Microsoft Project file because Project Insight won’t know that’s the same task if the name was changed. It will consider it a new task and it will think the task with the previous name was deleted.

Now you can have multiple tasks with the same name, that’s fine, because Project Insight applies a unique identifier to each, but it uses the unique identifier and the task name to update existing tasks and that’s why you can’t change the name.

Errors in Microsoft Project

One other tip before we finish off this session is to ensure that your Microsoft Project file does not have any scheduling errors in it before you import it.

Scheduling errors may occur in Microsoft Project depending on the activities you’re doing.

However, Project Insight does not allow those errors and will correct them upon the import.

For example, one of my clients was importing a Microsoft Project file and the dates in Project Insight were different than what was in her Microsoft Project file after the import.

What was happening was that the dates for a summary task in the Microsoft Project file had errors in it because Microsoft Project allowed that.

However, when the file was imported into Project Insight, Project Insight did not allow the error and fixed the dates, importing them correctly.

This resulted in different dates than the Microsoft Project file had and caused confusion for the user until they fixed the scheduling date error in the Microsoft Project file, then the dates matched the correct dates in Project Insight.

In conclusion, Project Insight’s Microsoft Project import/export is quite robust and possibly the most closely related to Microsoft Project in the mid-market. Use freely, but be aware that the scheduling algorithms are different and unique to each vendor.

Online 4/30/2015
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