Schedule compression techniques are the process of reducing the project schedule duration while maintaining the project scope and quality. This can be accomplished by removing unnecessary tasks, activities, or phases from the project schedule, or by completing tasks in a shorter timeframe than originally planned.
There are a number of reasons why schedule compression may be necessary in a project.
- Initial Schedule Unrealistic
- Reduce Risk in Project
- Change in Delivery Schedule
- New Resources Available
Perhaps project scope was underestimated or project management efficiency is lacking. In other cases, project stakeholders might need the project to be completed more quickly than it can be done without compression.
Schedule Compression Techniques
Project managers often recognize that project schedule compression will be necessary during project planning and try to plan for some amount of it as an initial contingency. When project managers are looking for ways to reduce project duration they must choose between these two approaches.
- Fast Tracking
When project managers are looking for ways to reduce project duration, one of the most effective techniques is schedule compression. While project managers can use fast tracking or crashing when they compress project resource schedules, these two techniques have opposite effects on project duration and should be used in different situations. For example, fast tracking is more appropriate in situations where there is some slack in the project schedule.
Project Schedule Crashing
The goal of project crashing is to reduce project duration and improve on-time delivery by including more resources, greater oversight, and increased coordination. Fast tracking allows project to be completed sooner than initially planned. This is done by assigning more resources to the project and/or by working on the project for longer hours. It can also involve skipping or reducing certain steps in the project’s process.
While crashing a project can help it be completed sooner, it can also lead to problems. If the project is not well organized, it can be difficult to manage the increased workload. Additionally, if the project is rushed through certain steps, there is a greater chance for errors to be made.
Crashing should only be used when absolutely necessary, as it can impact the quality of the final product. Project managers often decide whether to use schedule crashing based on their own judgment, stakeholders’ requests, and deadlines for the project.
Crashing can be done with or without adding resources to the project. If resources are added, the team must manage by exception, which means that they no longer need to be closely monitored on a day-to-day basis. Project managers know there is little margin for error if they choose to add resources and go fast track.
The advantages of project crashing:
- It can speed up the completion of the project
- It can save money.
- It can improve the team’s morale.
In project fast tracking, a team works extra hours on their own to complete a project before its deadline. This is done by utilizing work breaks and lunch breaks. Work that would of been sequenced would be now done in parallel.
By working extra hours, project fast tracking can speed up the completion of a project. It also saves money because it is not necessary to order in food for late-night meetings and snacks for people working around the clock. Furthermore, it improves team morale by giving employees a sense of accomplishment when they successfully complete their project.
However, project crashing also has some disadvantages:
- It can lead to quality problems.
- It can cause stress and tension within the team.
- It can lengthen the time required for completion.
It can lead to quality problems because employees feel stressed and under pressure while working long hours and rushing to complete their tasks. It can also cause stress and tension within the team if workers argue over who should work on which task or take out frustration on other team members. Finally, it can lengthen the time required for completion because of the extra hours worked.