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But I do think that it’s worth understanding the drawbacks, as well as the advantages, of whatever approach you take, so you can cope with those drawbacks. And, of course, a different project may need a different approach.
Yes, it could. I'd probably just say 'John made' in most situations, though, as it seems obvious that he must have made them before she could possibly take them. But you could use the past perfect to emphasise that fact.