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What happens if I make my Time plan and create a schedule to report the plan, but the Resources will not be available when I need them? What do I do if the project duration will take too long? Fortunately there are some Resource Optimization and Schedule Compression Techniques that can be applied to your schedule. These tools are Resource Leveling, Resource Smoothing, and two Schedule Compression Tools called Crashing and Fast Tracking.

1) First perform Resource Leveling.This is the balancing of demand on Resources with the available supply. This should have been done in step 3 of making your Time plan, but a final review is beneficial, now that the schedule has been developed. Set up a balance sheet, listed by Activity, to highlight any Resource shortages and possible Resource surpluses. Alternately you can use a vertical bar chart with Time on the horizontal axis and Quantity of Resources on the vertical. Can the schedule be tweeked to eliminate the shortages? Can Activity durations be shortened by applying surplus Resources. You need to have a Time plan that works with the available Resources.

Successful Resource leveling (balancing supply and demand) is likely to increase project schedule duration, but it provides a more realistic plan. Resource leveling has the benefits of improving team moral, and reducing subsequent management time.

2) Secondly, perform Resource smoothing. This optimization technique adjusts the Activity attributes to reduce requirements from exceeding certain predetermined limits. A typical example is a limit on overtime. Usually, Resource smoothing is only applied to non-critical Activities, so as not to lengthen the planned project schedule duration. In the example of reducing overtime (OT), look at the non-critical paths for reducing OT by using up some of the Float. In addition, look at the named Resources for possible re-assignment to reduce OT.Some resources will not be able to be optimized by Smoothing.

Successful Resource smoothing is optimization, and is not normally allowed to increase schedule duration. Resource smoothing often has the benefit of Cost reduction, and has the benefit of equalizing work amongst Resources which can improve Team moral.


3) Thirdly, consider compressing your schedule by Crashing of Activities on the Critical path. Crashing is the technique of shortening the schedule duration by adding more resources (usually people / money or both) to Critical path Activities. There is no change to Scope. I like to think of it as "throwing money at the problem". You can consider Crashing as part of your baseline Time plan, or as a contingency to be used in case of schedule slippage.

Some typical examples of Crashing include:


  • paying people overtime,

  • using faster but more expensive freight,

  • employing a faster but more expensive worker,

  • using a faster but more expensive machine.

Here are a few points about Crashing:

  • Any amount of time you can shorten an Activity on the critical path will shorten the overall project duration by the same amount.

  • Look only at Critical Activities as candidates for Crashing. Not every Critical Activity will benefit from Crashing; but project duration will not be shortened by Crashing non-Critical Activities.

  • Crashing will cost you something. It is not free.

  • Make a Crash Table of "time saved divided by added cost" for each candidate Activity. The best Activities to Crash are those with most time saved per unit cost.

4) Fourthly, consider compressing your schedule by Fast Tracking of Activities on the Critical path. Fast Tracking is the technique of running two consecutive Activities at (or partially at) the same time. A successor begins before it predecessor is completely finished. There is no change of Scope. For example the top coat of paint follows the primer; but you might be able to start top coating one room before the whole house is primed. You can consider Fast Tracking as part of your baseline Time plan, or as a contingency to be used in case of schedule slippage. Be aware of the following points about fast Tracking:

  • Look only at Critical Activities as candidates for Fast Tracking. Project duration will not be shortened by Fast Tracking non-Critical Activities.

  • The Risk of under-achieving quality and subsequent re-work (with added Cost) is increased because we do not get to see the first Activity completed before starting the second one.

  • Fast Tracking does not necessarily cost you anything, but it is risky. Fast Tracking gone wrong can end up adding Time to the project duration, "Haste makes waste!"

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