May 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Crashing and fast tracking are two techniques used to help get a project back on schedule in the event the schedule begins to slip. When using either technique, you should know what your critical path is.
Crashing a project means to throw additional resources at the critical path. If you have one person working on a 10 day task, you might throw one or two more people onto the task to help speed up its completion. The risk is you may assign additional resources with limited tools to complete the task, keeping you from reaching a high level of efficiency. With the scenario where you crash the schedule, you may be adding a resource to work 5 days, and only shorten the task completion by 2 days. It is not the most efficient, but it is a tradeoff that sometimes is worth the risk.
Sometimes I like to think of crashing as what road construction crews seem to think they are doing. You need to dig a hole but there is only enough room for two people to do it, but there always seems to be ten guys standing around waiting to help not sure of how to fit in. In an effective scenario, think of when you were a child and had a party when your parents were not home. You enlist your siblings and friends to help you clean. You are crashing the activity with more resources to complete it faster.
Fast tracking is when you look at activities on a schedule that are normally done in sequential order and instead try to work on them in parallel. You may only be able to partially work on them in parallel, but you are trying to save any time that you can. An example is, you normally don’t create the solution until the design is completed. When fast tracking, you may start the solution before the full design is completed. You jump to the next phase before the current phase is completed. Major risks include increased cost and possible rework later on.
A real-life example of fast tracking are the crazy morning drivers on their way to work that are drinking coffee, shaving, and reading the newspaper at the same time. I find myself in the kitchen prepping breakfast running the coffee machine, the toaster, and the frying pan to cook some eggs and bacon; all simultaneously to cook my breakfast faster.
So in summary, the main difference is crashing a project involves adding resources to a single activity, and fast tracking involves working on sequential activities in parallel.
Marchewka, J. (2009). Information Technology Project Management (3rd Ed). John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
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