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Fast-Tracking vs Crashing
You’ve done all your analysis, collected the duration estimates from your team, and developed a beautiful project schedule. You provide it to your sponsor or customer and they say? “Get it done faster”, of course.
There are two techniques that can be used to shorten the project duration while maintaining the project scope: fast-tracking and crashing.
Fast-tracking is a technique in which phases or activities that normally would be done sequentially are performed in parallel. Fast-tracking does not result in increased cost but it does increase the risk, as activities that were originally intended to be performed sequentially are now performed in parallel.
The ability to fast-track implies that the finish-to-start relationship between the activities was discretionary.
Crashing is used if fast-tracking did not save enough time on the schedule. Crashing is a technique in which cost and schedule trade-offs are analyzed to determine how to obtain the greatest amount of compression for the least incremental cost.
Crashing analyzes critical activities based on the lowest crash cost per time unit allowing the team to identify those candidate activities that would produce the greatest value at the least incremental cost.
The results of a crashing analysis can be plotted in a crash graph, where activities with the flattest slope would be considered first, meaning that they gain the most time savings but have a smaller increase in cost (rise).
Example - Fast-Tracking:
The current project schedule will not meet the timelines required for the project. You determine that you could fast-track the training material development. The training material development would begin as soon as the screen shots are produced versus waiting for the system to receive final sign-off.
This will allow the schedule to be shortened without incurring additional costs. However, if the screen shots prove to be inaccurate, there could be some rework required for the training material.
Example - Crashing:
If the fast-tracking did not accelerate the schedule enough, the project team will consider adding resources to the project’s critical activities. As PM, you will want to consider what resources have the lowest associated costs and start with the lowest incremental cost resource pool first.
The reality of project management is that there is usually a need to compress the project schedule and deliver the project’s product, service, or result sooner than estimated.
Fast-tracking is always considered first as there are no increased costs. However, there is increased risk.
Crashing would be the next option. Crashing analyzes the incremental crash costs of activities to determine and prioritize the candidates for crashing.
Both fast-tracking and crashing should be used on critical activities (those on the critical path) in order to have an effect on the actual project schedule. If used on non-critical activities, you have just given yourself more float.
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