Crashing a Project Schedule – Typical Approaches

Crashing a project is a means of compressing or shortening the complete time period of a project so that the original deadline can be hit.  Standard techniques for crashing a project are:

  • Focus crashing around the Critical Path

    Crashing a Project Schedule

  • Adding resources to accomplish tasks more rapidly
  • Reorganize tasks
  • Work tasks in parallel
  • Reduce lag times for tasks
  • Lessen the scope of less important tasks
  • Work your team overtime
  • Outsource work of a less critical nature
  • Pay for expedited shipping or accelerated product for various components
  • Provide additional incentives or penalties

Concerns:

  • A lot of these techniques charge a fee (small or large) and create their own problems. A big challenge is balancing shortening the project schedule with keeping costs low.
  • Some tasks cannot go faster with increased resources, yet others are proof against anything further than minor additional resources.
  • There are several tongue-in-cheek metrics say for example a limit from the amount of brains per square foot or rear-ends per sq inch in an area. These came from experience in some very tight spaces, like airplanes and submarines.
  • If additional resources are less experienced, they will often slow the job rather than accelerating it, and resources should be offered by the proper times.
  • If your task has the capacity to complete sooner,another task may not be prepared to start.
  • If the project is further along, it can be not capable of being accelerated.
  • When tasks start without all of the necessary input, there is a greater potential for errors and delays.

Other terms besides crashing are Schedule Compression used when keeping the identical scope, and Fast Tracking for over-lapping the tasks and reducing the scope. Included in Fast Tracking is reassigning less experienced individuals to less urgent tasks, maintaining those most capable working on their area of expertise, and working multiple phases of a project simultaneously.

Crashing a project schedule to the significant degree can often be very difficult. Thus sophisticated techniques have appeared that can calculate the crash cost weekly per task and find out each task’s potential to deal with additional resources, together with a resource elasticity metric for duration sensitivity. You will find linear programming models to ascertain the earliest crash completion use of the project plus a least costly crash schedule. You can find time-cost trade-offs to have an optimal pace for minimum cost. And after that you will find there’s brute force method that takes one task at any given time, reduces it to at least one unit of time to determine the effect for the schedule.

Since accelerating a task usually increases costs, a good thing to make note of is always that direct costs generally increase with crashing, and total indirect costs decrease since the project duration decreases. For many projects, minimum time-to-market may be of extreme importance, decreasing the concern for cost considerations.

As this can be tedious and ineffective, you might be interested in a very different approach. Perhaps we can reduce direct costs, indirect costs and duration.

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February 13, 2012. Project Scheduling.

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