Just a quick clarification on which is which!
Crash, Fast-Track, Contour, Smooth or Level?
Larry was a workaholic zealot. He put in 60, 70, and 80 hours a week for weeks on end. The company loved him. Until he had a heart attack. When he came back from the hospital, the doctor had given strict orders. “No more 50-hour work weeks!” The company schedule still had him listed as 60+ hours per week. But Larry (now into heavy meditation) vowed to stick to a 40-hour week. His schedule was overcommitted. What did they have to do? LEVEL LARRY. Reduce his over-commitment. What happened to his work? Instead of his deliverables being produced by the end of June, they were pushed out to the end of September!
Leveling – The reduction or elimination of the over-commitment of resources, often resulting in deliverables being delayed on the schedule.
Sally was a Jacqueline-of-all-trades. She could perform a variety of different tasks, so she was assigned to a half-dozen different projects, all with different demands. For your projects she’ll often have two weeks at 10 hours a week, a week with no commitment, a full-time week and a 30-hour week, followed by three five-hour weeks. (She’s never over-committed, just unevenly committed). As a result, other project managers “steal” her for their projects, leaving you high and dry. How do you solve the problem? You SMOOTH SALLY! You sign her up for a steady 15 hours a week, ensuring she knows exactly how much time she’ll have to commit to your project on a regular basis.
Smoothing – Evening out the commitment of resources across multiple time periods.
Chris was the resident Einstein. At the very early stages of a project, he could rapidly see how to put the whole package together and ensure success. He had the gift, and everyone in the office knew it. No group needed a long-term commitment out of Chris, but they definitely needed him for the early stages of their efforts. How do you ensure proper utilization of Chris’ time when he’s working for/with you? CONTOUR CHRIS! You sign him up for a full commitment early in the project, quickly phasing him out. (And if you need him for the last “blessing” on the project? Contour him again! This time, quickly ramp UP a last days’ commitment for him).
Contouring – Creating a sloped commitment schedule for someone only needed at a particular time on the project.
Carla’s project has been on schedule, but management (much to everyone’s surprise) suddenly agreed to move the deadline ahead by three weeks. Carla was ill-prepared for the sudden loss of three weeks on the schedule. What to do? CRASH CARLA’S PROJECT! Quickly, Carla hired four outside contractors, dragged in three uncommitted internal personnel, borrowed two administrators and a partridge in a pear tree. With the additional staff, while costs skyrocketed, management’s new deadline become achievable.
Crashing – Adding human and material resources to expedite the project schedule
Freddie’s project has been on schedule, but management (much to everyone’s surprise) suddenly agreed to move the deadline ahead by three weeks. Freddie was ill-prepared for the sudden loss of three weeks on the schedule. What to do? FAST=TRACK FREDDIE’S PROJECT! Quickly, Freddie replanned much of his team’s work so that work that was going to be done in sequence was now being conducted in parallel. While risks on the project soared, management’s new deadline become achievable.
Fast-Tracking – Doing work in parallel that otherwise would be serial in order to achieve schedule efficiencies.