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Successful Project Management: Modifying the Project Schedule

Shortening a Project Schedule

If the project duration expands beyond the desired finish date, you can shorten it in several ways:

  • Shortening lag time between tasks. If tasks on the critical path include lag time between them, reducing that lag time is an easy way to shorten the project duration. It won’t cost any more; resources don’t have to work harder; and risk is low. The difficulty with this approach is that the lag time is often due to a dependency on other groups. For example, lag time might indicate the delay until stakeholders meet to approve documents. Or a vendor requires two months between your equipment order and delivery. If you can convince the stakeholders to hold an emergency meeting or expedite shipping, you can reduce the lag time in Project by following these steps:

    1. Double-click the link line between two tasks in the Gantt Chart view.

    2. In the Task Dependency dialog box, in the Lag box, change the number of hours, days, or other time period to the new lag time you obtained. For example, if the lag has decreased from 30 days to 20, type 20d.

    3. Click OK.

  • Fast-tracking a project compresses the schedule by running tasks concurrently instead of in sequence. Fast-tracking can introduce risk because you start some tasks before their predecessors finish. However, fast-tracking can often shorten a schedule without increasing cost.

  • Crashing is a technique in which you spend additional money to reduce duration. The trick is to reduce the duration as much as possible for the least amount of money.

  • Reducing scope. If stakeholders decide to reduce the project scope, you might think that the solution is simply to delete the tasks for the scope you’re removing. But that’s not a good idea because you probably know that decisions that go one way on Monday are as likely to go the other way by Friday. In Project 2010, the Inactivate command leaves task values in place but removes them for inactivated tasks from the project’s rolled-up duration and cost and removes resource assignments from the assigned resources’ availability.