Cut Project Duration – Video

Dick Billows, PMP

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Project managers often receive demands to cut the project duration. Sometimes these demands come weekly or even daily. There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle requests to cut the project duration. If you handle it incorrectly, the stakeholder will go over your head to the sponsor or a senior manager. Those superiors will arbitrarily change the project duration without giving you additional resources to help you finish the work faster.

Cut Project Duration: The Wrong Way

You’ll see how this happens in the first part of the video where the project manager handles the request poorly. That error leads to what truly will be a Project from Hell.  Project Schedule & Software Main Page

Cut Project Duration: The Right Way

In the second half of the video, you’ll see how the project manager properly handle requests to cut the duration. He doesn’t flatly refused to change the duration. Instead, he gives the stakeholders choices and options for finishing earlier. Each one is feasible and leaves the project manager with a plan that is achievable. Modeling those choices requires the right kind of project schedule and a thorough understanding of techniques like critical path, fast tracking and crashing the project plan. These tools are available in project management software. You enter the data to model options and tell the stakeholders what it will cost to finish one week earlier, two weeks earlier, etc.

You should present each option as a trade-off like, “I can finish two weeks earlier if I have one more engineer for three weeks.” Notice the trade-off has two sides; the positive side of finishing earlier and the negative side of needing more people. Skilled project managers present a number of options for cutting the duration. And they go out of their way to try to accommodate the stakeholder’s requests. However, every option has a trade-off. Here are some examples:
– spending more money to finish early
– adding more people to finish early
– lowering the project scope to finish early.
You give the stakeholders several choices; each of which preserves the feasibility of the project. That’s the key to correctly handling duration reduction requests. You don’t resist changes or try to argue against making them. On the contrary, you’re willing and eager to discuss possible options for finishing early. But each of the options you present has a trade-off that you modeled in the project management software.

You learn all of those skills and how to use project management software to identify ways to cut the duration in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the course in your industry specialty.

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