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Tried-and-true techniques for
shortening projects

Microsoft Office Project 2007 Inside Out
By Teresa S. Stover

Teresa S. Stover is a project management expert who has consulted with the
Microsoft Office Project Team since version 4. She is an instructional designer and
award-winning author with more than two decades of technical communication
experience. Teresa is the author of countless user manuals, tutorials, and help
systems — plus more than a dozen computer books, including Microsoft Office
Project 2003 Inside Out and Microsoft Project Version 2002 Inside Out.

To learn more about other books on the 2007 Microsoft Office system, visit
Microsoft Press.

In this article
View finish dates and the critical path
Check your schedule assumptions
Project management practices: duration compression

A time-constrained project is one in which the project finish date is the most
important factor in your project plan. Although you still need to balance budget
constraints and satisfy the project scope, the finish date reigns supreme as the
primary priority. If your project plan calculates that your finish date will go beyond
your all-important target finish date, focus on the critical path. Shorten the critical
path and you bring in the finish date.

https://support.office.microsoft.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p... 06/11/2016

The Project Statistics dialog box appears. The project summary task appears at the top of any task sheet view.. finish date appears in the Finish column (see Figure 1). 2. the Finish field in the project summary row shows the latest finish date in the project. or scheduled. project finish date.microsoft. 2. as follows: 1. Specifically. On the Tools menu. including the Gantt Chart (see Figure 2). total work.Project Page 2 sur 10 View finish dates and the critical path Before you analyze the critical path. click Options and then click the View tab. Another way to keep your eye on the project finish date at all times is to add the project summary task row to your project plan. Task information is rolled up for the entire project and its summary total is displayed in the project summary row. 06/11/2016 . On the Project menu. In the Project Information dialog box. Select the Show Project Summary Task check box. click Project Information. Figure 2 The Project Summary row rolls up task information to display the totals for the entire project.office.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . total duration.. you just need to see your bottom line: What’s the project finish date? Follow these steps: 1. and total cost. Figure 1 The Project Statistics dialog box shows overall project information: project start date. The current. click the Statistics button. https://support.

Top of Page Check your schedule assumptions If you’ve determined that you need to bring in the finish date. Costs and scope will probably stay as they are.office. switch your focus to that new critical path until you achieve the planned project finish date you need. Make sure that all the scheduling controls you put into place are accurate and required.. If it does.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. the good news is that you probably won’t adversely affect your project triangle. NOTE:  If you change aspects of your schedule to bring in the finish date. That is. pointing to Filtered For. the critical path is likely to change several times throughout the span of the project. If you need to bring in the finish date. In fact. you need only make adjustments to critical tasks. on the Project menu. and that added flexibility can give you an earlier finish date. click Tracking Gantt on the View menu. adjusting your schedule to meet your schedule requirements affects only the schedule side of the triangle. https://support. check to see if that path finishes before your target finish date.Project Page 3 sur 10 To see the critical path. To show all tasks again. look first at the schedule itself.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . review and update the following: Date constraints Task dependencies Durations Task calendars You can look at all tasks in the project. but to affect the finish date. It’s a good idea to apply the Schedule table or show the Total Slack and Free Slack fields in your favorite everyday table. 06/11/2016 .. point to Filtered For and then click All Tasks. This way you can see how close tasks are to becoming critical. You can filter your task sheet to show only critical tasks by clicking the Project menu. you can easily see whether you’re hitting your target finish date. you might want to focus on the critical tasks. The fewer controls you impose. In the Gantt Chart or other task sheet. the more flexibility Microsoft Office Project 2007 can have with scheduling. Keep a close eye on the critical path as part of your monitoring activities. as you make adjustments to tasks and enter actual progress information for tasks. By viewing the finish date or the critical path.microsoft. and then clicking Critical. If you shorten the sequence of critical path tasks to the point at which a different sequence is now the critical path.

On the Project menu. If you like. follow these steps: 1. Apply the Constraint Dates table to the Gantt Chart or other task sheet. follow these steps: 1. On the Project menu. To see only the constraints for critical tasks. In the More Tables dialog box. on the Project menu..office. To look at the constraints you’ve applied. particularly for your critical tasks. Display the Gantt Chart or other task sheet. 06/11/2016 . 2. change a date constraint to a flexible one such as As Soon As Possible or As Late As Possible. Click the Constraint Type field. 3. you can sort the tasks by constraint type. On the View menu. as follows: 1. point to Sort and then click Sort By. The tasks are sorted by constraint type. 2. do the following: 1. so you can see where you might have applied a Must Finish On or Start No Later Than constraint.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . https://support. click Constraint Dates and then click Apply. and then click the constraint you want in the list.microsoft. This is where you can potentially make a significant impact on your finish date. point to Filtered For and then click Critical.. in their outline sequence — you can review constraints for each task within the context of its surrounding tasks. point to Filtered For and then click All Tasks.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. click the arrow. point to Table and then click More Tables. Apply the Constraint Dates table to the Gantt Chart or other task sheet. look at any date constraints you’ve set in your schedule. You can also see their associated dates. Wherever you can. Apply the Constraint Dates table to the Gantt Chart or other task sheet. 2. 3. 2. Only critical tasks are shown. To change the constraint.Project Page 4 sur 10 Check and adjust date constraints First. When you want to see all tasks again. The table shows the constraint type and constraint dates for all tasks. for example. Even changing an inflexible date constraint such as Must Start On or Must Finish On to a moderately flexible date constraint such as Start No Later Than or Finish No Earlier Than can improve your schedule. If you have the tasks sorted by Task ID — that is. click Constraint Type and then click Sort. In the Sort By dialog box. Make sure that the constraint types and dates you have applied are truly necessary.

You can look at durations in the Gantt Chart or most task sheets. 3. remove the link. you can change a finish-to-start dependency to a start-to-start dependency. On the Standard toolbar. you can review durations for each task within the context of its surrounding tasks. If two tasks don’t really depend on each other.microsoft. Or consider whether two tasks can begin at the same time. 06/11/2016 . or when you save the project. Gantt Chart is the best view for reviewing task dependencies and their impact on your schedule. you can also sort tasks by duration so you can see the longer durations first. However. examine whether the task dependencies are required. When you make a change that causes other fields to be recalculated. If so. Specifically. 4. view the Tracking Gantt or Detail Gantt. past project information. Check and adjust task dependencies The second place to check your schedule for critical path–shortening opportunities is your task dependencies. follow these steps: https://support.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . in their outline sequence). click in the Type field for the predecessor. click anywhere in the predecessor row and press the DELETE key. industry metrics. The highlighting remains in effect only until you make the next edit that causes a recalculation. Change a task dependency as follows: 1.. Click the successor task. To see critical tasks highlighted. the changed cells are temporarily filled with a background color so you can see the ripple effects of the change you’ve just made. or program evaluation and review technique (PERT) analysis to calculate your current durations. Check and adjust durations After adjusting date constraints and task dependencies.Project Page 5 sur 10 NOTE:  New to Project 2007 is change highlighting. look at task durations. However. be aware that it’s risky to be too optimistic about durations.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. To remove the link entirely. To change the link type.office. These longer durations might have more buffer built in. click Task Information and click the Predecessors tab. 2. Click the arrow and then click the link type you want in the list.. To sort tasks by duration. Focusing on the task dependencies of critical tasks helps you bring in the finish date. if the finish date is still beyond your target. so they might be a good place to trim some time. especially if you used reliable methods such as expert judgment. If your tasks are sorted by Task ID (that is.

Project Page 6 sur 10 1. the previous edit is undone. 6. Undo. point to Sort and then click By ID. point to Filtered For and then click Critical. click Duration and then click Sort.microsoft. Fast tracking     Tasks normally done in sequence are rescheduled to be done simultaneously (for example. 5.The Sort dialog box appears. TIP: In Project 2007. 06/11/2016 . Display the Gantt Chart with the Entry table applied. point to Filtered For and then click All Tasks. starting to build a prototype before the specifications are approved). To change a duration.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . You can also click Edit. Redo. on the Project menu. click Undo on the Standard toolbar. To return to the original task order. you can now undo multiple edits. point to Sort and then click Sort By.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. You can also click Edit. on the Project menu. Top of Page Project management practices: duration compression In project management. or display another task sheet that includes the Duration field. on the Project menu. simply type the new duration into the task’s Duration field. To redo an edit that you’ve undone. 3. The schedule is recalculated with the new duration. When you want to see all tasks again. 4. On the Project menu.. To see only the durations for critical tasks. or press CTRL+Y to redo undone edits. or crashed. or press CTRL+Z to reverse the last edit. The series of operations you can undo goes back to the last time you saved your project. https://support. The tasks are sorted by duration..office. In the Sort By list. 2. for the least additional cost. there are two commonly used methods of shortening a series of tasks without changing the project scope. These two duration compression methods are as follows: Crashing the schedule     The schedule and associated project costs are analyzed to determine how a series of tasks (such as the critical path) can be shortened. To undo recent edits. click Redo on the Standard toolbar. Each time you click Undo.

or a constraint date. Tasks with task calendars assigned display a calendar icon in the Indicators column next to the task name. To show the Task Drivers pane. click Task Drivers. examine the tasks and the task calendars to make sure they’re accurately reflecting reality and not holding up progress. It’s important to be aware that these methods can increase cost or increase task rework. NOTE:  If you use task calendars in your schedule. a number of other factors determine the schedule of any given task. You can click the name of a calendar listed in the Task Drivers pane to open that calendar in the Change Working Time dialog box.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p.microsoft. 4. You can check that the resource availability affecting assigned task scheduling is accurate. Select the task whose task drivers you want to review.office. Adjust resource settings to bring in the finish date Another way to bring in the finish date is to adjust your resource settings. On the Standard toolbar. The Task Drivers pane lists the specific factors responsible for setting the start date of the selected task. click the X in the upper-right corner of the pane to close it. follow these steps: 1. You can click the name of a predecessor task to go to that task in the view and to see the task drivers for that task. Check and adjust resource availability https://support. 2. Place the mouse pointer over the icon to see more information. Keep the Task Drivers pane open while you click different tasks and review their task drivers.. You can also add resources to tasks to decrease task duration. a predecessor task. When you’re finished with the Task Drivers pane.Project Page 7 sur 10 By their nature. Task Drivers 3. such as Gantt Chart or Network Diagram. dependencies. both of these methods are risky. The Task Drivers pane appears. Check task drivers Along with durations.. Be aware that increasing resource availability as well as adding resources to tasks usually means an increase in costs. A new tool available in Project 2007 is the Task Drivers pane. 06/11/2016 . for example. the project calendar. and constraints.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . Open a task view.

Project Page 8 sur 10 The more availability your resources have.office. click Task Entry and then click Apply. as follows: 1. set the Task Form to show the resource information you need. Apply the view. 3.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . Critical. You can also click View. 5.. In the More Views dialog box. The resources assigned to the selected task are listed in the Task Form portion of the view.microsoft. Tracking Gantt. point to Details and then click Resource Work. 2. Critical tasks are shown in red. Figure 3 The Task Entry view is now set up to check resource and assignment availability. Only critical tasks are displayed. Click a critical task in the Gantt Chart portion of the view. review and update the following: Resource calendars Maximum (resource) units Assignment units The Task Entry view is best for checking these three items. and filter for critical tasks. click More Views.. click in the Gantt Chart (upper) portion of the view. 06/11/2016 . https://support. The same 4-day task assigned to a resource who works a 2-day week will be completed in 2 weeks. Click in the Task Form (lower) portion of the view. Filtered For. Click Project. The Task Form changes to show availability information (see Figure 3).com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. For example. 4. the sooner their assigned tasks can be completed. To view critical tasks. On the View menu. a 4-day task assigned to a resource who works a regular 5-day week will be completed in 4 days. For resources assigned to critical tasks. On the Format menu.

when you remove a resource from an effort-driven task. To check the task type of an individual task. especially the critical tasks. when you assign an additional resource to a task that already has assigned resources.. To switch the Task Entry combination view to a single-pane view of the Gantt Chart. When you add or remove resources (that is. Add resources to decrease duration A key method of shortening the critical path and bringing in the project finish date is to add resources to critical tasks in such a way as to decrease the task’s duration.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. at least. they cannot be fixed-duration tasks. the amount of work scheduled for each assigned resource decreases. Obviously. follow these steps: https://support. of course. Make any necessary changes and then click OK. To check the resource calendar for this assigned resource. Under Resource Availability. duration changes but work remains fixed. and make sure they’re correct. click Remove Split. To check resource units. On the General tab. Likewise. For this to be the case.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . assignment units) on a fixed-work task. which is the default. When finished.microsoft. 06/11/2016 . Check the working times set for this resource and make sure they’re correct. 7. Find out if the assigned resources can provide any more time on these tasks. two people working together might be able to complete a development task in half the time it takes either of them individually. review the Units field next to the resource name in the Task Form and make sure the setting is correct.. return to the General tab in the Resource Information dialog box.Project Page 9 sur 10 6. their resource units. double-click the resource name. on the Window menu. click the Change Working Time button. the amount of work scheduled for each assigned resource increases. and their assignment units — and everything might look correct. To show all tasks again. which are effort-driven by definition. 9. check the resource units and associated dates. The same is true for fixed-work tasks. To check assignment units. With fixed-units effort-driven scheduling. click the Filter tool on the Formatting toolbar and then click All Tasks. to help bring in the finish date. close the Change Working Time dialog box. The Resource Information dialog box appears. if applicable. It doesn’t hurt to ask.office. For example. NOTE:  You can check your resources’ working time calendar. 8. the tasks must be either fixed-units and effort-driven tasks or fixed-work tasks. A great technique is to scan your project for any assignment units of less than 100%.

3.. and the task types are shown in the task sheet. double-click the task. You can use this Type field to quickly change task types. Follow steps 1–5 to add the Effort Driven field to the task sheet. click Column. More support might be needed to get those resources up to speed on the tasks. Take care to add resources who are experienced enough to hit the ground running so your efforts don’t backfire on you. You can add the task type and effort-driven fields to a task sheet so you can see the scheduling methods for all tasks at a glance.microsoft. Top of Page Ces informations vous ont-elles été utiles ? Oui Non https://support. 6.com/client/Tried-and-true-techniques-for-shortening-p. You can type ty to move quickly to the Type field in the list. Display the task sheet to which you want to add the new columns.Project Page 10 sur 10 1. In the Field Name box. as follows: 1. This field displays Yes or No. Make any necessary changes. In the Task Information dialog box.office. On the Insert menu. Click OK. Click the column heading to the right of where you want the new column to be inserted. 2. and you might lose whatever time savings you thought you might gain. Additional overhead might be associated with bringing on additional resources. click the Advanced tab.. such as the Gantt Chart. 3. 4.Tried-and-true techniques for shortening projects . and therefore the length of the critical path is reduced. Review the Task Type list and the Effort Driven check box. NOTE:  Be aware that as you add resources to critical tasks. 06/11/2016 . indicating whether the task is effort-driven. select Type. When you assign additional resources to your fixed-units and effort-driven or fixed-work critical tasks. 5. In a task sheet. the duration of those critical tasks is reduced. you run the risk of reduced productivity. 2.