Five Ways to Accelerate Your Project Schedule

Accelerating project results is not complex; however, it is not typically easy to implement. After all, if accelerating project results was easy, everyone would already be focused on it. The reason it is not complex, yet isn't easy, is that there are no short cuts; instead persistence and focus will pay dividends. When these ways to success are put in place, it is possible to accelerate project results. In today's economy, those who can outpace their competition with solid results will be those who "win the race".

“Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Five Ways to Accelerate Your Project Schedule":

When a project starts, you create a schedule that represents your best thinking on how the project should progress. But it seems on many projects that one day after your baseline schedule is created, you are already behind. Here are five techniques to help stay on track.

1. Accelerate early
You know you are going to face delays at some time on your project. Therefore, if at all possible, try to get ahead of schedule early. This might be done by starting the project earlier than planned, or adding resources earlier than planned. You need to have a mindset that you are not going to start out late, and you are not even happy to be on-schedule. You want to get ahead of schedule to build an early buffer to protect against future delays.

2. Fast-track dependent activities
Most of the activities in your schedule are linked to others with a finish-to-start relationship. Think about whether you really need to wait until the first task finishes, or if there is an opportunity to move forward with the second task early. For example, you may have two activities called "write requirements" and "design solution" that are linked in your schedule. You might ask whether you really have to wait until 100% of the requirements are written before you can begin designing the solution? Maybe you can start the overall design when the requirements are 80% finished. If that's the case then the overall elapsed time for the project will be shorter. There is some risk with this approach, but it may be worthwhile to you.

3. Remove activities that are no longer needed
When you first write your schedule, you are assuming all of the activities are necessary and achievable. However as the project progresses, things change. You need to review the remaining activities and remove anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Some activities may no longer be needed. Perhaps some can be pushed to post implementation.

4. Add resources to the critical path
Check if you have flexibility to add resources. These may be specialists, or perhaps there are some general activities that anyone can do. This technique is also called "crashing"

5. Optimize your processes
Look for process improvement opportunities that will save time. For example, an approval process might normally take two weeks. Is there a way it can be done in one week, or one day? Or perhaps you realize a process that takes four activities can actually be done with three activities.

As the project progresses, question everything that remains. You might be surprised that the work you thought was vital may later be shown to be unnecessary.

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