Fast tracking and crashing are techniques without which a project manager can’t survive. I know many of Project managers out there reading this blog will agree with me. Even though these are schedule compression techniques which are not supposed to be used commonly, it’s very common in real life. So for both practical usages as well as for clearing PMP® aspirant’s doubts around these techniques, I am penning down this blog. Let’s look in to the details of these techniques.

Fast tracking – As per PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition

A schedule compression technique in which activities or phases normally done in sequence are performed in parallel for at least a portion of their duration

Important points which gets ignored about Fast Tracking

  • Fast tracking is not done blindly by changing schedule to have activities running in parallel.Rather activities are analysed to parallel work and extent of it.
  • There is reference to “at least a portion of their duration.” In definition. This means full activity/activities are not required to be done in parallel. Portions can be done and most of the time its portions only
  • In a situation where schedule compression is required, this technique is explored first
  • Any schedule compression technique is applied on the activities of critical path activities else we may end up owning risk without any tangible output of it
  • Fast tracking can only be done to some limits after which if continued may only add risk and rework and not schedule compression. Ultimately you have to wait for concrete to settle before start of painting

PMP - fast tracking activity

Crashing – As per PMBOK® Guide fifth edition

A technique used to shorten the schedule duration for the least incremental cost by adding resources

Important points which gets ignored about Crashing

  • Crashing is not done blindly by adding resources. First the additional cost and benefits with crashing are evaluated and then only this is taken forward. Cost and schedule trade-offs are analysed to explore least additional cost and maximum compression
  • Additional resources doesn’t only mean additional number of heads but it can be any of below
    • Approving overtime
    • Paying extra
    • Adding more resources
  • This option is always explored after exploring fast tracking for a obvious reason of additional cost
  • Any schedule compression technique is applied on the activities of critical path activities else we may end up owning risk without any tangible output of it
  • Crashing can be done to some limits, after which if continued may only consume money without schedule compression. Ultimately you can’t deliver a baby in one month if resources increased from 1 to 9

PMP - crash resource

Comparison of these two techniques

 

SnoFast TrackingCrashing
1Activities or phases are performed in parallel to compress the scheduleMore resources are added to the activities or phases to compress the schedule
2Increases rework and riskIncreases cost and can result in increased risk/cost too
3Works only when activities/phases can be overlapped to shorten the project durationWorks only for activities where additional resources will shorten the activity’s duration
4Always tried firstAlways tried when fast tracking hasn’t given required compression in schedule
5Applied on critical path activities. If not it will only add to floatApplied on critical path activities. If not it will only add to float

 

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is fast tracking? Is it same as lead?
A: Fast tracking is schedule compression technique in which activities are done in parallel to achieve compression. Lead is a type of dependency which helps in doing so.

Q: What is crashing? Is it same as fast tracking?
A: In crashing schedule compression technique additional resources are added to bring the timelines in. Fast tracking and crashing is different.

Q: What is the difference between fast tracking & crashing?
A: Refer above table for comparison of both

Q: Which technique is better?
A: Depends on needs. If you can manage enough with fast tracking that’s the best because it doesn’t involve additional cost however crashing helps in bringing timelines in considerably in some scenarios. E.g. construction projects, more workers can build the wall earlier

Q: Why we apply schedule compression on Critical path activities?
A: What comprises project length? It’s the critical path. If we apply compression on activities not on critical path, we are just increasing the float. Schedule compression is not as easy as it appears. Sometimes while doing compression you may end up getting more than one critical paths which will make project riskier. There is always lot of analysis at the back ground to do schedule vs cost trade-off to achieve an optimized schedule after compression.

This is all I want to say about fast tracking and crashing. I hope this helps in resolving some long pending confusions. If not, please feel free to put your follow up questions here on our Discussion Forum