The construction or project schedule is one of the most valuable tools on a construction project that stakeholders can create, communicate, and modify. A thorough schedule, incorporating input from major stakeholders such as grading, concrete, structural steel, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, framing, and storefront subcontractors, is invaluable to achieving successful project completion. Including input from these stakeholders in the project schedule facilitates collaboration, communication, and alignment of expectations.


General contractors, along with tier-subcontractor companies, typically create their own schedules. These schedules should be integrated into the overall project schedule. Stakeholder schedules should reflect major milestones, deliverables, work breakdown structures, activities, resources, and the overall timeline for their portion of the project.


As a scheduler/planner, I request all stakeholders to send me digital files of their respective schedules so I can incorporate them into the master project schedule. Contractors and tier-contractors are experts in their respective fields, and leveraging their knowledge and expertise benefits the overall project schedule’s mechanics. Often, subcontractors submit their schedules as Microsoft Project (MP) files, while general contractors commonly use Primavera P6 (P6) for scheduling, which presents a challenge due to the limited interoperability between the two software packages. To incorporate the MP schedule into P6, several steps must be followed.


Steps to Successfully Import Microsoft Project Schedules into Primavera P6


Before an MP file can be imported into P6, action items must be addressed by either the general contractor’s planner/scheduler or the stakeholder’s planner/scheduler. Here are the three main reasons why an MP file might not convert successfully into P6:


Data Compatibility: Ensure that all data within the MP file is compatible with P6. This includes checking for any custom fields, task links, or resources that might not translate directly into P6. Simplifying and standardizing data can aid in a smoother conversion process.


Structure and Formatting: The structure and formatting of the MP file should align with P6’s requirements. This includes ensuring that tasks are appropriately broken down and that the hierarchy of activities is clear and logical. Any discrepancies in formatting can lead to errors during the import process.

Software Settings and Configurations: Adjust the settings and configurations in both MP and P6 to ensure they are conducive to a successful import. This might involve setting up matching calendars, resource definitions, and baseline settings to ensure consistency across both platforms.


Before an MP can be imported to P6, there are action items that either the GC Planner/ Scheduler or the stakeholder’s Planner/ Scheduler must address before a successful conversion. The three main reasons why an MP will not convert into P6 are:

  • Do not have an MP schedule with blank lines. All lines must be occupied. P6 will reject an MP file with just one blank line in the schedule.

Microsoft Project Settings

  • If a WBS field in MP is empty, then P6 will reject the file. All activities must have an assigned WBS path.

Microsoft Project WBS


  • MP Summary Activities will be imported into P6 as an individual activity with the total duration of all the activities under the Summary Activity in MP. Either the summary activity can be deleted in MP, or if you uncheck Project Summary Task in MP under the Format Ribbon, then MP will create an export file without summary tasks, which will allow P6 to import as a schedule that will save a lot of time in the import cleanup process.
    Microsoft Project Ribbon

Import Problems

Milestones in MP will be imported into P6 as start milestones. If you have a finish milestone in your MP schedule, those milestones become start milestones in P6 and will require manual conversions to finish milestones.

Those who have worked with imported MP schedules in P6 have typically seen problems updating the Original Durations and Remaining Durations even though the activities have not started. As you go through updating the remaining durations, P6 will either revert back to the original duration in the remaining duration column or change the original duration to the remaining duration. There are two ways to fix this issue, which Overall Consulting schedulers and Planners have found.

The easiest fix we found was under the project window in the detail tabs. Click on the Calculations tab and confirm Link Budget and At Completion for not started activities is checked, and Reset Remaining Durations and Units to Original is also selected.Primavera P6 Settings

The hardest method is creating a new project and copying all the activities from the imported MP project into the new one. This will take more time and effort but will solve the problem of updating the Original and Remaining Durations problems that occur when importing an MP schedule into P6.



How to Import

Step 1

In MP, click on File in the upper left-hand corner in the Quick Access Toolbar.

Scroll down to Export on the left

Choose Save Project As File

Choose XML Format


Microsoft Project Export

Save your project to a designated folder to access the file from P6.



Step 2

Open P6

In the Project window, select File in the toolbar

Scroll down to Import

Select Microsoft Project XML

Select Next

Schedule Primavera P6 Import


Step 3

In the next window

Click on Select and choose where you saved the MP file

Click on Import Action and choose Click New Project

It is never recommended to import an MP into an existing schedule. When you import an MP schedule, there are many items that will need your attention before merging it with an existing schedule.

Click in Import To and choose which EPS the MP should be imported to.

Click Open

Click Next


Step 4

The Template window is the opportunity to customize how the MP schedule will be imported.

From my experience viewing many of the MP files, if a stakeholder is using MP to create a schedule, then the schedule will not be very well defined, resource, or cost-loaded. Usually, I will import these schedules to save time in recreating the schedule, activity logic, and durations. All other parts of the schedule I will delete, including any cost and resource loading during in the MP file. Therefore, I will select Add, create a default template, and click Next.

Suppose you are importing a more complex schedule from MP. In that case, you should research more options for importing or contact a professional scheduler/planner to ensure no information or data is lost during the importing process.


Step 5

The MP has now been imported to P6.

Primavera P6 Conformation