Every day we have to deal with a multitude of projects of a very different caliber. The achievement of these projects can be seriously affected by different reasons. The lack of forecast, unrealistic planning, lack of resources, poor risk management and/or ignorance of schedule compression techniques can create a real headache. In this post, you will find out the differences between Fast Tracking vs Crashing.
Fast Tracking vs Crashing in Project Management
As Project Managers, we must make decisions that release the previous problems and positively influence the delivery of the project. In spite of being fulfilling the schedule, we only look for shortening the duration of our program, due to:
- Opportunities to be awarded another project if we finish ahead of the expected completion date
- Our client wants the project to end before the contract completion date
- Market competitive position, such as the bidding for new projects that were not in our radar
- Commitments with other Stakeholders
Project Management offers two techniques to reduce the duration of our schedules. They are known as Schedule Compression Techniques, and they are:
- Fast Tracking
Next, we will explain the Project Crashing and Fast Tracking techniques in Project Management in order to help you to choose the most suitable for your project.
What is Fast Tracking?
If you want to know the Fast Tracking definition, maybe you should have a look to the PMBook. In order to carry out this technique, we must review the Critical Path of our project, identifying those activities that, although being in sequence, are likely to be executed in parallel in order to advance the completion of the project. Recall that Critical Path activities are those whose Total Float or Total Float is equal to or less than zero. These activities can influence the advancement of the planned finish date of a project.
The activities outside the Critical Path present positive float and, therefore, do not influence the achievement of the works. However, it is important that we do not forget these last activities of positive Total Float since one derivative of the reduction of the duration of our project is that these activities become part of new Critical Paths as their float is reduced.
Fast Tracking Advantages
The great benefit of this technique is that it does not imply an increase in the cost of the project. However, it presents the possibility of an increase in the risk of our project. This is because many activities will go from being done in sequence to being done in parallel.
Not serving as a planning rule, although it is usually fulfilled, activities that have been executed up to approximately two-thirds of its duration, are susceptible to be Fast Tracked in Project Management without adding excessive risk to our schedule. In other words, when an activity has been completed by 66%, by applying Fast Tracking the risk will increase but always within acceptable limits. An example of an activity where the Fast Tracking Technique makes sense would be the curing of concrete. This does not prevent certain activities from running in parallel without incurring an increase in cost.
The use of Fast Tracking helps us to reduce the duration of our schedule to a certain limit. It should be considered as the first technique to be used for the compression of our schedule. However, we must bear in mind that the excessive use of this technique can lead to a massive increase in risk and cause what is known as rework or redo the work already done.
What is Crashing or Project Crashing?
But what happens if Fast Tracking is not enough to reduce the duration of our project? It is time to use the Crashing schedule compression technique. This is based on adding new resources to our activities. This implies that the yields or outputs improve and the activity durations are reduced. It entails an increase in project costs, so the relationship between new resources-increase in cost-schedule compression must be analyzed to find the most favorable point for the project. Unlike what happens with the Fast Tracking technique, Crashing does not significantly increase the risk of our project. However, the entry of new resources could require a new learning curve of these, with which optimal returns would take to arrive.
It will be key that the project team identifies those activities that can offer greater added value with a lower cost increase. The Critical Path will be reviewed, as it happened in the Fast Tracking, identifying those activities that accept an increase of resources to reduce their execution time and that, in turn, present the lowest cost increase for the project.
It is very important that we do not lose sight of what happens with the activities that are originally outside the Critical Path. The reduction of the duration of the project can make them be part of new Critical Paths, as we have explained in the case of Fast Tracking. Discover the advantages of Crashing to help you choose: Fast Tracking vs Crashing
The early stages of the Crashing technique will bring a greater reduction in the duration of the project with less impact on the cost increase. However, if we continue to apply this technique, the cost will be greater affected for minimum reductions in time.
As examples of Project Management Crashing, as follows:
- To implement a greater number of resources
- To motivate the work team with economic rewards
There are some activities that do not accept this schedule compression technique. Some of them are the curing of concrete and periods of approval of licenses imposed by official bodies as well.
As always, in Project 2080 we want your projects to be the best managed. Therefore, we are now one step away from being able to recognize and choose the best schedule compression technique between Fast Tracking vs Crashing.
IN PROJECT 2080 WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO REMEMBER
Fast Tracking vs Crashing in Project Management as schedule compression techniques. Now you, as Project Manager, must assess the pros and cons of these schedule compression techniques in a real project. Do you think you will be able to choose the most appropriate one? The normal process to reduce your schedule duration would be to start assessing Fast Tracking first, since it does not imply a cost increase. In case this technique is not enough we will evaluate the Crashing. But if you still have doubts about when to use one technique or another, we show you some real examples below:
- The client needs the project to be finished 2 months before the deadline. For this, it is willing to compensate to pay a compensation fee. In this case, Crashing is the ideal technique.
- If winter has been especially rainy and your project seems to be delayed. Then, apply the Fast Tracking technique to not increase costs.
- Imagine a scenario where your project must finish before the next local elections. Your reputation as a Project Manager could plummet if you are not capable to complete the work on time. In this case, Crashing could save your image and the one of your company.
- The fact of you do not reach certain Contract Milestones within your project can bring an economic penalty for breach of contract. In this case, compare the cost of the penalty with the cost of the Crashing and make a decision. Is it profitable or not for your project to move forward with this technique?