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Definition of Crashing (In Project Management Terms)

Definition of Crashing (In Project Management Terms)
By Sivaraj Dhanasekaran

Crashing is a schedule compression technique used to reduce or shorten the project schedule.

The PM can various measures to accomplish this goal. Some of the common methods used are

  • Adding additional resources to the critical path tasks
    This option has various constraints such as the securing of the budget to add the resources, and the availability of the resources.
  • Reduce the project requirements or scope
    This can be done only if the sponsor and major stakeholders agree to reduce the scope

After applying the crashing, the critical path might have changed and result in creating a different critical path. Always revisit the project schedule to ensure the schedule has been crashed.

Dhanasekaran, Sivaraj is a certified PMP and works as a Senior Project Manager in one of the leading MNC banks in Singapore. He has over 13 years IT experience and handled banking projects as well as managed production support team for complex Treasury applications for various MNC banks. Read the Complete Article

Critical Path With MS Project

Critical Path With MS Project
By Simon Buehring

Creating a realistic schedule is a key responsibility of any project manager. This schedule must be updated regularly throughout the duration of the project to ensure that the project manager is aware of any issues or delays that might affect the product delivery date. Too many delays can lead to additional expense, customer dissatisfaction and project failure.

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a widely-used technique developed by project managers to enable close analysis of the factors affecting the project schedule. Through Critical Path Analysis (CPA), project managers are able to make more accurate schedules and estimations.

The popular project management software, MS Project, includes various tools to facilitate creating and managing a CP. This article considers how MS Project can make developing and using a CP a simple, step-by-step procedure.

Creating a CP using Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project allows users to create and manage a CP using the Gantt Chart capability. Read the Complete Article

How to Compress Project Schedules

How to Compress Project Schedules
By Michael D. Taylor

There are times when the project schedule duration must be shortened (compressed) either to meet market opportunity dates, to meet the desires of key stakeholders, or when the project completion date slips. In these cases the project manager must find ways to reduce the amount of time it will take to complete all remaining activities, especially those on the critical path.

Three such schedule compression techniques can be employed under these conditions, all of which are to be applied to the critical path activities. These are: 1) optimizing activity lead-lag times, 2) fast-tracking, and 3) crashing. It must be pointed out that if the critical path is compressed enough, other paths may become the actual critical path, and must then be compressed.

How to Optimize Activity Lead-lag Times

Optimizing lead-lag times along the critical path is one of the best ways to reduce the project’s duration. Read the Complete Article

The 12 Crimes of Critical Path Diagrams

The 12 Crimes of Critical Path Diagrams
By Chris Croft

Network diagrams are like a sort of flow diagram of the tasks in a project so you can see the running order of what depends on what. You can use a computer but post-its are best. Normally they are drawn across the page, left to right. The objective is to find the longest path, or ‘critical’ path, which tells you how long the project will take.

Common mistakes made by people doing network diagrams with post-its (or on a whiteboard):

  1. Vertical lines. This is a sin because it’s not clear whether the line is going up or down. Lines should always go diagonally across – makes the diagram much easier to understand. Sometimes vertical lines are used to show that the tasks happen together – but in this case the two tasks should both feed from the one on their left and into the one on the right.
Read the Complete Article

Scheduling, Precedence Diagramming and the Critical Path

Scheduling, Precedence Diagramming and the Critical Path (#23 in the Hut Introduction to Project Management)
By JISC infoNet

Planning the project activities helps us to work out and clearly communicate what we need to do, who needs to do it, and in what order. One of the big reasons that some projects fail is that the list of activities to be undertaken is incomplete or isn’t collated into a coherent plan. By first thinking of the products that are needed, it can make this task easier:

  • Produce the Product Breakdown and agree this as the key milestones and phases with the Sponsor/Project Board.
  • Agree the major tasks required with the project team. Writing each task on a Post-It note can help. This leads to what is sometimes called the Work Breakdown Structure.

  • People with the most knowledge and/or experience should then compile the detailed activity list. i.e. break down each task into its constituent activities e.g.:

Project Produce a new course brochure
Major Task Check the proofs
Activity List Check spelling, check layout, check colours, etc.
Read the Complete Article

Understand and Manipulate the Critical Path in MS Project

Understand and Manipulate the Critical Path in MS Project
By Peter Kolevas

Understanding the critical path in MS project can be a relatively daunting task. In order to do this you need to have a fundamental understanding of the predecessor relationships you have setup on the tasks within the plan.

First thing to do when determining the critical path on the project is to ensure that every task in the project has a predecessor, with the exception of summary tasks and the first task in the project. To do this determine the mandatory logic throughout the project first, and then move into your discretionary logic. Once complete you will have a plan that you can work with to understand the critical path.

In order to view the critical path in MS Project I recommend doing 2 things:

  • Display the critical path on the Gantt chart.
    1. Right click on the open space in the Gantt Chart.
Read the Complete Article

The Critical Path Method and Wrong Project Scheduling

The Critical Path Method and Wrong Project Scheduling
By Shim Marom

One of the key techniques project managers use to monitor and control progress on their projects is the Critical Path Method (CPM). This method, promoted by the PMI through its PMBoK, is meant to assist the project manager in identifying areas of high risk on the project. Given that, by definition, the Critical Path consists of the activities that have no float (or slack) and as such (again, by definition) a delay in any of these activities will cause a delay to the project’s planned completion date.

In order to ensure that the project does not miss its deadline, project managers are encouraged to protect the Critical Path by monitoring progress against plan and taking corrective and/or mitigating actions in order to ensure critical path activities are complete on time.

To illustrate the above comment let’s review the following example:

Resourced Level Project Schedule

Resource leveled project schedule

In this overly simplified example, we have a schedule with 10 activities that have been leveled to ensure optimal use of assigned resources. Read the Complete Article

Critical Chain Method (CCM) – A Short Definition

Critical Chain Method (CCM) – A Short Definition
By Sivaraj Dhanasekaran

Schedule Network Analysis is one of the tools and techniques of Schedule Development process. Critical Chain Method is one of the method used to perform Schedule Network Analysis.

This method is used to prepare the project schedule when limited or restricted resources are available.

In this method, the PM usually schedule all or most of the high risk or critical activities in the earlier stage of the project schedule. This allows the critical tasks to be completed early as well as gives buffers to handle unexpected problems if arises. Also the PM will combine several tasks in to one task and assign one resource to handle all.

The steps involved:

  1. Construct the Schedule Network Diagram
  2. Define dependencies
  3. Define constraints
  4. Calculate critical path for the project
  5. Apply resource availability

The critical path will change once the resource availability has been applied. Read the Complete Article

Forward and Backward Pass in Project Time Management

Forward and Backward Pass in Project Time Management
By Clarise Z. Doval Santos

There are two terms related to Critical Path that one may encounter. These are the terms Forward Pass and Backward Pass. These terms are related to ways of determining the early or late start [forward pass] or early or late finish [backward pass] for an activity.

Forward pass is a technique to move forward through a diagram to calculate activity duration. Backward pass is its opposite.

Early Start (ES) and Early Finish (EF) use the forward pass technique.

To determine the Early Start of an activity, factor in all its dependencies and see its earliest start date.

Consider the following simple diagram (durations are in weeks):

Forward Backward Pass in Project Time Management

Sample Network Diagram

The Early Start (ES) for Activity B is 4. Why? B comes after A. A starts on week 1 and finishes on week 3. So the earliest that B can start is week 4. Read the Complete Article

Best Practices for Improving Your Project Schedule

Best Practices for Improving Your Project Schedule
By ExecutiveBrief Staff

Do you have a staff sitting idly in the midst of the other busy ones? This situation tells you that your project schedule might need fine-tuning.

Project managers usually complain about “unrealistic timelines,” a common consequence of clients having set their expectations too high even before the project starts. Ironically, there are occurrences in the duration of a project when a staff is sitting idly, waiting for a colleague to finish so he can start his own task. In this situation, does the project manager shout foul and blame other people? Chances are, as a project manager, he needs to give the project schedule a second look.

And when he does, what does he look at?

The basic foundation of managing a project is creating an efficient and realistic project schedule. During project planning, the PM is given the chance to give it some fine-tuning. Read the Complete Article

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