Monday, May 24, 2021

8 Project Management Schedule Compression Techniques

Project managers are pressured to deliver projects quickly. Sponsors think their project managers are magicians. And in a way, they are. 

Delays can occur to a project due to various reasons, but some common reasons are below:

  • Unavailability of resources – This is one of the major reasons and the higher management also has a play in this.
  • Risks – Improper management of known risks, and Occurrence of unknown risks.
  • Unrealistic schedule
  • Force Majeure – It is a common contractual clause that frees parties, bound by a contract, from liability or obligation if an “Act of God” happens.
  • Pressure from higher management for new business opportunities – This happens when the higher management sees the possibility of getting a new business or project if you can complete this project early.
  • Need to launch the product early – this can happen when a competitor launches a rival product and you can’t afford to lose the market.
  • etc…

Projects are often delayed and there are various reasons for that. In such cases you need to compress the project schedule duration in order to bring the project back on track. In simple words, project schedule compression is reducing the duration of a project schedule, without compromising on the work that needs to be done in that schedule.

Let’s look at some ways to compress the schedule. 

  • Recheck the activity dependencies. Make sure they are correct and valid. Additionally, look for ways to change the dependencies to drive faster completion.
  • Challenge the assumptions about mandatory dependencies. Do we really have to complete certain activities BEFORE we start the successor activities? Sometimes we can find ways to start subsequent activities in parallel with other activities (called fast tracking). Warning – this action will likely increase risks.
  • Reduce lags. Be creative and find ways to reduce the lags in the project’s critical path. 
  • Check the external dependencies. Rather waiting two weeks for a delivery of laptops, why not drive across town and purchase the laptops locally? Furthermore, double-check the outsourcing assumptions and arrangements.
  • Reduce the duration of activities by reducing the associated risks. When individuals estimate schedule activities, they add time to account for risks. Consequently, if we can reduce or eliminate the risk, we can reduce the time required.
  • Reduce the project duration by adding additional qualified resources to the critical path activities (called crashing). Warning – this action increases cost and often increases risks.
  • Reduce the duration by replacing a team member with someone with greater skill and knowledge for critical path activities. Of course, this action will likely increase the cost.
  • Reduce the scope of the project. Discuss the priority of the deliverables with the key stakeholders and determine if the scope can be reduced.

Effective compression of a project schedule requires efficient planning management. An intelligent decision-making process based on the best scenario generated by testing various options.

Unfortunately, program compression is a fact in most projects.

The challenge faced by project managers is to keep the “compressed program” realistic and achievable.


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