I have been involved in the ‘Recovery Plan’ submissions. A recovery plan is 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, 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 typical for a project to lag behind the baseline schedule and be project management professionals; you need to deal with it. Make sure a schedule compression can be done at any stage of the project. Like when we submit a baseline schedule, and the 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.
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, we have only 12 days for simplicity, and we need to compress it for three days. We will keep the resources constant in fast-tracking but make activities parallel, as shown in the below picture.
Employing this technique will increase risk and rework chances as two or more activities will be done simultaneously. So ultima, we, as a project manager er, 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 parallel activities. Still, it is necessary to think out of the box, and you may find the solution even for the most critical problems. In the above example, we assume that the activities’ resources are different; hence we can go for the parallel operation.
It is recommended for the interlinked activities to have a risk assessment to analyze how early the second activity can be started. If the risk is not too high, the parallel activity can be easily managed. After schedule adjustment, the first thing to be looked at is resource allocation and ensuring its availability without putting too much pressure on the project team or a project team member.
Fast-tracking has its challenges, and it’s not without its risks. It is the opposite of initial project planning as one allows the planning at the beginning and the other deals with preparation during the project’s execution phase. 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 make 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. Therefore, it is recommended to focus on the right activities on the critical path, keeping in view the risks attached to it to have favorable schedule compression outcomes.
So to summarize, the following are step by step guideline for the 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. resource cost.
The project manager will evaluate the activities/tasks that will save much time with a smaller budget increase.
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 are no hard and fast rules to use. Fast-tracking is rather easy, whereas in fast-tracking, you need more experienced people. The parallel activities will make the project riskier that needs effective monitoring and control.