Lesson 4: Tracking - Adjust Schedule

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After you create a schedule by entering tasks, assigning resources, and entering cost information, you are ready to evaluate and adjust it. While evaluating the schedule, you will probably discover problems or oversights that require adjustments. It is most efficient to analyze your schedule and make changes early in the planning process, ideally before the project is in progress. However, after the project is under way, you can check your schedule and adjust it when necessary to meet your goals.

The aspects of the schedule you evaluate depend on the information in the schedule and the level of detail at which you are managing your project. You should consider evaluating:

  1. The finish date of the schedule.
  2. How resources are allocated.
  3. The cost of the schedule.

Project Plan 365 calculates the finish date based on the durations of tasks on the critical path --- the sequence of tasks from the start date to the finish date that must finish on time for the entire project to finish on time. Any delay along the critical path will result in the project finishing later than planned. To adjust the finish date of your schedule, focus on altering critical tasks.

One of the common problems that may arise after the planning phase of your project, is that the finish date of your project does not meet the deadline, which is mandatory requirement to be accomplished before starting the actual execution of your project. Therefore the problem to be solved here requires to bring earlier the finish date of your project so it can fit into a tight deadline, when no delays are allowed after this date.

To alleviate this problem, one of the solutions is to Increase the resources (skills, people, money...) allocated to the task or to run several tasks in parallel (fast tracking) by eliminating some unnecessary dependencies between your tasks. In this way, it may possible that some of your tasks can be executed in parallel and not sequentially one after another, delaying the finish date of your project. At the same time we could take resources allocated to the non critical tasks and reallocate them to critical tasks instead. That way we do not increase the cost of the project and it will complete sooner.

We may shorten the planned critical path of a project by pruning critical path activities, by "fast tracking" (i.e., performing more activities in parallel), and/or by "crashing the critical path" (i.e., shortening the durations of critical path activities by adding resources). To crash a plan resources are added to activities to shorten their durations. Crashing only works for activities that are on the Critical Path and are effort driven. Fast tracking involves checking the project logic and deciding whether the finish to start dependencies are essential or whether tasks can be overlapped. Crashing typically increases project costs as additional resources are used while fast tracking increases the risk of rework as activities are started before their predecessors are completed.  

To crash a project (i.e. bring in the dates of your critical path tasks so that your project has an earlier finish date) you may follow one of the below alternatives:

  • Shorten the duration or work on a task on the critical path.
  • Change a task constraint to allow for more scheduling flexibility.
  • Break a critical task into smaller tasks that can be worked on at the same time by different resources.
  • Revise task dependencies to enable more scheduling flexibility.
  • Set lead time between dependent tasks where applicable.
  • Schedule overtime.
  • Assign additional resources to work on critical path tasks.

icon_exercises.png       Practice

   1. Let's try to bring earlier the current date of our current project, so that it ends with about 5 days earlier than the actual finish date (which is 3 June 2016).

   To do this, change the dependency type for task with ID = 42 (Excavate elevator pit) from FS to SS, and remove the lag of 4 hours for the predecessor of task with ID = 59 (Install conduit at ceiling plenum space), so that tasks have less delays and start to take place in parallel.

    If you look at the finish date of your project summary task, you can notice the finish date of your project is now on 26 May 2016, meaning that you brought earlier the finish date of your project:

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