Our Top Tips to Speed Up Project Duration
We all know that sometimes the best made plans can go belly up in an instant. This is especially true when undertaking building and construction works, where there are so many ‘moving parts’ (such as resources, equipment, safety, critical path etc) to consider.
And speaking from experience, it is often the little things that cause the biggest pain.
Perhaps it was adverse weather, restricted site access, late delivery of long lead items, design flaws, key resources required elsewhere or machinery breakdowns that cause your project to be delayed.
Or perhaps you need to expedite your project, as your window of opportunity to go to market is suddenly reduced, or regulations are about to change?
How can you expedite project delivery?
Project managers know that in order to deliver a successful project they need to consider three (3) interconnected areas - Time, Cost and Quality.
Each of these areas have direct impact on each other. For example: you cannot increase quality if you decrease time and cost. Like wise to decrease project duration (or time), you must either increase budget (to cover costs associated with additional resources) or decrease quality.
The best tool a Project Manager can have is a clear and up to date schedule. (See The Importance of Efficient Scheduling for handy tips and tricks that will make light work of scheduling.) Schedules help teams to identify, recalculate and proactively act to expedite their project delivery.
So here are our top 5 tips to expedite a project if you have no restrictions on resources.
Crashing is where you can add more resources and equipment to the project to try to reduce task duration. While this seems like an obvious choice to speed up works, just be aware that sometimes increasing the number of resources on the job is not proportionate with the reduction of time ie double workforce does not mean works will be completed in half the time. In fact, additional resources prove counter productive, as more time is now taken to communicate with and coordinate these teams.
Outsourcing or subcontracting
This involves ‘carving off’ an activity to be preformed by a resource external to the project team. Outsourcing is not restricted to just resources. It can also be substituting manual labour with a machine.
Approving overtime allows for works to be completed by competent team members who already fully understand the scope of work, thus reducing costs associated with communication and training.
However, unless your resources are employed under salary conditions, overtime is paid at penalty rates. You should also consider that these resources may become susceptible to burnout or even become unproductive over time overtime is implemented for a long duration.
Have a Core Project Team
Being able to have key project members who works solely on your project allows them to fully focus on the outcomes. This removes the need for the team to navigate multiple work fronts and competing responsibilities.
Do it twice; fast then correctly
This is rather an interesting concept whereby projects are first undertaken quickly, often as a prototype and then revisited to construct the final product.
What if cost is an issue?
All of these scenarios are great in a perfect world where money is no object. But what if you don’t have an endless supply of cash (or a very understanding project sponsor.) Then perhaps these 3 ideas are better options for you.
Instead of undertaking Tasks sequentially, the project team will revisit the schedule looking for Tasks that can be undertaken in parallel. While additional time may be needed to manage and coordinate these Tasks, the time savings may well and truly offset your efforts.
Critical Chain Project Management
CCPM is where the upfront planning is undertaken to the finest of degree, to ensure the project is delivered at the fastest rate possible. This style of planning requires investigation into every possible scenario and planning back up plans that will allow the team to continue working under all conditions. Just be mindful that CCPM is best preformed at the beginning of the project.
This method is certainly one of the most common ways of reducing project duration. Simply put, instead of undertaking every Task assigned to the Project team, Management will instead review all Tasks and evaluate their viability. Any items viewed as not offering the most benefit is removed from the scope to be completed externally to this project or not at all.
Management need to bear in mind that while this may expedite the project, any tasks removed must not compromise the value of the project outcome.
That is why scope reduction should focus on critical path Tasks that offer little project value.
Compromising on Quality
Certainly not an advisable way to speed up a project - especially if your outcome is reliant upon a quality product, but perhaps it is a necessary evil.
Not only are there time benefits to compromising quality, but sometimes there are cost benefits too. For example, it may prove cost efficient to continue to manufacture the product at a lesser quality, and call for repairs once delivered, as opposed to stopping production all together.
These are all great examples of how project managers can expedite their projects, but which one is best? Well it all comes down to that particular project’s outcomes, the stakeholders and teams involved and which constraint you are able to compromise on – time, cost or quality.
Share you project stories with the QicWorks community by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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The information contained within this blog is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and legislative requirements before making any decisions