Schedule Compression

Posted on April 7, 2009 by

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It needs to be done in less time… Schedule Compression is a tool and technique of the Develop Schedule process described in the fourth edition PMBOK®. If a project needs to be completed faster than it is currently progressing, the project manager may apply a schedule compression technique. Two schedule compression techniques are crashing and fast-tracking. Crashing applies additional money and/or resources to shorten the duration of the project. This can increase risk to the project, so the trade-off should be carefully considered. Also, there some types of tasks that additional money or resources cannot shorten. Fast-tracking is the preferred method of schedule compression. Fast-tracking performs activities in parallel that are normally done sequentially. Like crashing, there can be additional risk introduced.

Here are some examples involving Katy, who is planning on making cookies tomorrow afternoon just before her dinner guests arrive so that the cookies will be warm from the oven. She discovers that her dinner guests will be arriving earlier than planned, but she can’t start making the cookies earlier, either. She applies the technique of crashing, and buys a couple more cookies sheets so that she bake three sheets of cookies at once, rather than just one sheet of cookies at a time. So, she has invested more money (to buy the extra cookie sheets) in order to shorten the duration of her cookie baking project. Typically, Katy watches the cookies the entire time they are in the oven so they don’t burn. But she decides to also apply fast-tracking and set the table for her dinner guests while the cookies are in the oven. Normally the task of setting the table would come after her cookies are taken out of the oven, but now the task of the cookies baking is done at the same time the table is being set. As you can see, there is some added risk that the cookies are more likely to burn, but she decides it is worth the trade-off to have warm cookies ready for her guests.