Project Time Management: Crashing vs Fast Tracking for PMP Exam


Project Time Management: Crashing vs Fast Tracking for PMP Exam

In Project Time Management, when the Project Management needs to deal with time delay (or the sudden request from management to deliver the deliverables sooner), there are two important methods to compress the schedule (schedule compression techniques) so as to catch up with the target dates while preserving the project scope: crashing and fast tracking. These two techniques are indeed quite different and this post will expound on the similarities and differences of Crashing vs Fast Tracking and what Aspirants would need to know for the exam.

Crashing vs Fast Tracking

  • Crashing: crashing is a schedule compression technique to shorten the activity duration by adding extra resources (money and/or human resources)
    • involves additional costs as extra resources are needed for
      • overtime
      • extra manpower
      • outsourcing
    • normally to be explored after Fast Tracking
    • Project Manager needs to judge which activities can be “crashed” with the lowest cost for the maximum effectiveness
    • may create risks for rework/defects
  • Fast Tracking: is a schedule compression technique to perform activities in parallel (partial or in whole) in order to save time
    • the activities to be performed in parallel should be analyzed for logical relationship and that the two activities in question can really be carried our in parallel (i.e. overlapping of part or the whole activities)
    • normally no extra resources are needed
    • additional risks may be created
    • Fast Tracking is the preferred method for schedule compression

Both Fast Tracking and Crashing must be applied to activities on the Critical Path in order to really shorten the project duration. When applied on activities not on the critical path, it would only increase Floats which will not shorten the project duration (note: the Critical Path may be different when there are delays to activities of the project).

Crashing vs Fast Tracking Illustrated

Let’s again take the project of PMP® preparation as an example.

Suppose you have planned to be well prepared for the exam in 2 months with 3 hours of studies each day. After one month of PMP® Exam prep, you are 40% complete. Foreseeing that you may not be able to be fully prepared at the scheduled time for your exam, you wish to compress your study schedule in order to finish the remaining 60% of activities in one month.

Now, according to the general recommendation, you begin by Fast Tracking your exam preparation by:

  • attempt and pass the final exam for your online exam prep course after you have finished the required percentage of online courses (e.g. 80%) so that you can get the 35 Contact Hour certificate for your PMP® Exam application and you can continue to study the remaining contents of the exam while PMI is assessing your application in order to save time (i.e. carrying out exam application and studying for the 35 Contact Hours in parallel)
  • attempt 1 full-length mock exam paper before you have gone through the whole exam syllabus in order to understand your readiness for the PMP® Exam

But, after carrying out these “Fast Tracking” techniques, you are still not quite confident that you can meet your target. So you go to the Crashing technique:

  • increase the study time per day to 4 hours on weekdays and 8 hours on weekends (you need to pour in extra time)
  • purchase a pack of PMP® Flashcard to help you remember the key facts faster for your exam  (you need extra money)
  • subscribe to the PM PrepCast™ exam prep course so that you can listen to the courses during your transit time (you need extra money)

With both Fast Tracking and Crashing techniques, you are fully prepared for the exam on time and passed it in first try. Congratulations!

Summary: Crashing vs Fast Tracking

Crashing and Fast Tracking are the two most common schedule compression technique to shorten the project duration in case of delays while preserving the project scope. Fast Tracking is to carry out activities originally in sequence to be in parallel (partial or whole) while Crashing is to add extra resources to shorten the normal duration of the activities.

Fast Tracking is preferred over Crashing as the former does not involve extra resources and costs which would affect the project budget performance. However, it is important to note that both Fast Tracking and Crashing creates risks for rework (otherwise this would have actually been incorporated into the Project Plan at the very beginning) which needs to be carefully balanced with the benefits of schedule compression.

For information, another effective schedule compression technique is to trim down the project scope, but this would likely affect the project objectives and thus is not the preferred way to go.

Hope this article can illustrate the differences between Crashing vs Fast Tracking well.

recommended PMP resourcesAdditional free resources: 46+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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April 9, 2014