I have been involved in the ‘Recovery Plan’ submissions. A recovery plan is the one where we do schedule compression without changing or extending the Project Finish Date.
We use Crashing & Fast Tracking for schedule compression. In crashing, we use more resources and in fast-tracking we make more activities in parallel means increasing the project risks.
The project planner is the one who does this and as a planner always make sure to use any technique with the consent of your project manager and the project management team. Team buy-in is the key to managing a successful project.
We will discuss in detail which technique to use when & where.
Why Schedule Compression?
It is normal to a project to lag behind the baseline schedule and being project management professionals you need to deal with the situation. Make sure a schedule compression can be done at any stage of the project. Like when we submit a baseline schedule and client/owner can ask to compress it.
A recovery plan can be submitted during the project execution phase, where we are left behind the project schedule. Never compromise on agreed timelines until unless there is any scope change. Schedule compression mainly covers two techniques;
- Fast Tracking
You need to be an experienced person to use fast-tracking. You need to find activities only where you can apply fast-tracking first. Make sure that all the resources are optimized well.
Simply, we say that activities are done simultaneously without waiting for the completion of other activities.
Remember, this technique can’t be applied to every activity, we’ll have to see & discuss with the project team if the activities can be executed in parallel.
How to apply Fast-Tracking?
For example, we have a schedule that we are told to compress for. Here, for simplicity, we have only 12 days and us to need to compress it for 3 days. We will keep the resources as constant in fast-tracking but make activities in parallel as I have shown in the below picture.
Employing this technique will result in increased chances of risk and rework as two or more activities will be done at the same time. So ultimately we as a project manager will have to decide which technique to be used based on the nature and criticality of a project.
During the planning phase of a real-time project it may seem impossible to work on activities in parallel but it is necessary to think out of the box and you may find to the solution even for the most critical problems. Now in the above example, we are assuming that the resources on the activities are different hence we can go for the parallel activity.
For the interlinked activities, it is recommended to have a risk assessment to analyze in order to see how early the second activity can be started. If the risk is not too high parallel activity can be easily managed. After schedule adjustment, the first thing to be looked at it is resource allocation and ensure its availability without putting too much pressure on the project team or member of a project team.
Fast-tracking has its own challenges and it’s not without its risks. It is completely opposite to Initial project planning as one allows the planning at the very beginning and the other deals with planning during the execution phase of the project. In general, fast-tracking increases the overall risk of the project.
For example, you can purchase all the furniture for a new office before its completion. But there could be a possibility that you may have to do some size adjustments in office design in the execution and your furniture may not fit into the new design. Now the furniture is useless for you. It is therefore recommended to focus on the right activities on the critical path, keeping in view the risks attached to it to have favorable outcomes of schedule compression.
So to summarize, following are step by step guideline for Fast-tracking technique
- Define the goals expected from fast-tracking of a given project
- Analyze project plan to define interlinked milestones/activities
- List down critical risks (risk register)
- Analyze critical paths & critical chain for possible adjustments in schedule.
- Make adjustments according to the available information.
- Project execution and monitoring
Advantages of Fast Tracking
- Possibility of Early delivery of the project
- Timely delivery of delayed project
- Enhanced productivity and efficient utilization of project resources
Disadvantages of Fast Tracking
- Requires expertise to use this technique so not recommended for an inexperienced project manager.
- Requires close monitoring of critical path.
So to summarize we can say that more than that there is more than one technique/approach available in project management and we as a project manager have to decide which technique to be used depending upon the nature and requirement of the project.
Hope crashing is clear to you.
How to apply Crashing Technique
Crashing is where we need to get permission from the concerned project stakeholders to add more resources. Most of the time, it is not permitted easily unless we show them the delay impact (late penalty) vs resources cost.
The project manager will evaluate the activities/tasks that will save much time with a smaller increase in resources budget.
It can do with an increase in overtime, adding more resources, adding incentives. Crashing techniques needs more buy-in of the top project management whereas fast-tracking is done with project team involvement.
You can also use both techniques on any project plan. There is no hard and fast rules to use one of these. Fast-tracking is rather easy whereas in fast-tracking you need more experienced people. The parallel activities will make the project more risky that needs effective monitoring and control.