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Update Opportunity Field from custom object field

I have a project number field in a custom object that is updated by our project managers.  We would also like to keep track of this field in a custom opportunity field on the related opportunity.  How can I update the opportunity field when the field on the custom object is updated by a project manager?  Any help would be great.  Thanks.
There are 2 possible ways-

If the custom object is related to the opportunity,you could make it a related list on the opportunity page layout.
So you can view the required fields in the custom object on the opportunity page layout in related lists.

The other way is by updating the custom field in the  opportunity using S-controls

is there an automated way of doing this?

We have a lot of data coming into our system.
Some of this data will update a field in a custom object this is attached to an opportunity via a master-detail relationship.
I can't create a formula that will look at the details in an attached custom object to determine it's value.

Has anyone done this before?
How does the data come into your system?

One way of doing this,is to have an S-Control which can take in the updates?

We're hoping to use the Apex Data loader.
I'm still looking at this to see exactly how it works and the benefits of it.

We're thinking of manually updating the required fields every fortnight via exporting and impoarting data in reports, up until the point that Salesforce makes formulas between custom objects a reality.

I heard a rumor somewhere that salesforce were hoping to implement this at the end of the year.