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You are here: Home Blogs Three Techniques to Get You Out of a Schedule Jam
Friday, 17 February 2017 20:31

Three Techniques to Get You Out of a Schedule Jam

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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2017.16.02

Three Techniques to Get You Out of a Schedule Jam

There are maybe a dozen major techniques that can be use to try to get a project back on schedule. The exact techniques to use are based on the cause of the schedule drift. Three techniques are described below to help you get out of a schedule jam. 

Fast Tracking

Fast tracking means that you look at activities that are normally done in sequence and execute them partially in parallel instead. For instance, when building a house, the frame cannot be constructed until the foundation is dry. However, fast-tracking might include building the walls on the ground while the foundation was drying so that the walls could be erected more quickly when the foundation dries.  

Fast-tracking always involves a risk that you may have some rework later.

A good rule of thumb is that sequential activities can sometimes be fast-tracked by up to 33%. In other words, if you are fast-tracking, you can start the second of two sequential activities when the first activity is 67% complete. There is risk involved; however, at that level of overlap the risk that is normally acceptable.  

Implement “Zero Tolerance” Scope Change

Many projects begin to trend over their deadline because they are doing more work than they originally committed to. This is probably the result of poor scope change management. However, if you are at risk of missing your deadline date, the project manager must work with the customer and team members to ensure that absolutely no unplanned work is being requested – even if it is just one hour – without going through proper scope change management procedures. All energy should go into completing the work that was agreed to. This does not mean there can be no change. However, all changes must go through scope change management for appropriate schedule and budget relief.

Check Discretionary Dependencies

When you map out the relationship between all of the activities you will notice that some of the activities have a hard dependency and others have a soft dependency. Hard dependencies mean that activities must take place in a certain order because of the nature of the work. However, in many cases there is discretion in the sequence of the activities. In this case you want to pick the order you feel is the most efficient. This is a  discretionary dependency. It is important to know the difference.

As the project progresses, it is important to check these discretionary dependencies. It may turn out the activities can be rearranged to take advantage of resources, or perhaps because you may know more, you can plan a sequence that is more optimal. Of course, to have an impact, you must identify discretionary activities that are on the critical path or that influence the critical path.
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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