by Karen Patel, UoPhx MBA
program, May 26, 2007
The following report summarizes project
duration reduction and the project closing.
For numerous reasons, projects fall behind.
However, project managers do have different options in crashing or
reducing the project duration. Some include adding additional staffing
or resources, outsourcing, and adding overtime.
Constructing a project-cost duration graph identifies costs to reduce
project time with the focus of getting the project completed sooner.
Project cost reduction alternatives also exist as do time reduction
techniques. Some examples include project scope reduction, outsourcing,
and identifying tasks that customers can do themselves.
An important, but unfortunately sometimes
overlooked, step includes project auditing. Auditing allows a company to
incorporate best practices and continuous improvement techniques for
project management. The actual process includes the phases of initiation
and staffing, data collection and analysis, and reporting.
Many times, projects fall behind the promised
date, and a conflict of time versus cost arises. Project managers must
decide or determine what factor supersedes the other or realize how to
balance the two in the best interest of the project. Another factor
comprised for time includes quality. “The project duration time is set
while the project is in its “concept” phase before or without any
detailed scheduling of all the activities in the project” (Gray, 2005,
p. 283). Without carefully creating a detailed plan of the project, the
project duration cannot have an accurate forecast.
Some reasons to reduce the project duration
include an imposed date created by a key stakeholder, on-time market
demands due to global competition and technological advances, incentive
contracts for completing the project before schedule, and making up for
unforeseen delays (Gray, 2005, p. 281).
Different options exist to crash or shorten
project time as defined by Clifford Gray in chapter 9 of the Project
Management textbook. The most common method includes assigning
additional staff and equipment to the project activities. Additions
cannot occur too late in the project; otherwise, the project duration
can potentially drag out longer than anticipated. Next, outsourcing or
subcontracting can occur. This option allows the project to access
Experience in key areas can help reduce times
and increase the quality of work. Another option includes adding
overtime. Even though this alternative is an easier choice, the project
manager must consider the additional costs and potential employee
burnout involved. Establishing a core team that is dedicated to the
project includes the fourth option. A core team enables speed and focus
for the project. Project managers also have the option to perform
activities twice. The first completion of the activity occurs as a quick
and sloppy solution. The second completion occurs the right way.
Fast-tracking includes a method where critical activity completion
occurs parallel rather than sequentially. Critical-chain involves a
method that prioritizes the project activities to incorporate rapid
project completion through long-term commitments. “Probably the most
common response for meeting unattainable deadlines is to reduce or scale
back the scope of the project” (Gray, 2005, p. 287). For example,
project managers can choose to reduce the number of features for a new
product or service. Managers must not lose the value the project results
offer. A re-examination of the requirements can help keep or even
improve the project values and increase the speed while reducing costs.
The final option includes reducing the quality of the product. Managers
should evaluate this alternative very carefully as the wrong decision
could essentially cause project failure.
A project-cost duration graph represents an
identification of costs to reduce project time so that comparison
acknowledgement occurs with the benefits of getting the project
completed sooner Gray, 2005, p. 287). Constructing a project-cost
duration graph involved three major steps as defined by Clifford Gray.
Find total direct costs for selected
Find total indirect costs for selected
Sum direct and indirect costs for these
The first step usually involves the most
difficulty. “The central concern is to decide which activities to
shorten and how far to carry the shortening process” (Gray, 2005, p.
289). Project managers need to identify critical activities they can
shorten with the least increase in cost per time. Indirect costs are
usually easily obtainable from the accounting department.
Managers should assess other factors besides cost evaluation when
choosing a method for project time reduction. First, activity timing
needs consideration (Gary, 2005, p. 294). Second, the impact on employee
morale and motivation needs evaluation (Gary, 2005, p. 294). Finally,
project managers should consider the potential risk involved (Gary,
2005, p. 294).
As options exist for reducing project duration, they also exist for cost
reduction as defined by Clifford Gary. First, a reduction for project
scope not only gains additional time but also produces cost savings.
Another option includes having owners take more responsibility. Managers
should identify tasks that customer can do themselves. Third,
outsourcing parts of the project or the entire project can create cost
savings. Finally, communicating with team members can produce ideas on
cost savings. Members can brainstorm and introduce savings.
Project Audit and Closure
Mistakes will occur throughout a project; however, if carefully
assessed, errors can introduce what to do or not to due for future
business processes. “The project audit and report are instruments for
supporting continuous improvement and quality management” (Gray, 2005,
p. 461). In order to incorporate best practices for project management,
the business must evaluate past failures and successes. Companies that
thoroughly audit their projects, lead in their field (Gray, 2005,
The project audit process consists of more than status reports. Other
factors the audit offers as defined by Clifford Gray in chapter 14 of
the Project Management textbook include the following.
Reason to why project was selected
Reassessment of the project’s role in
Organizational culture check to ensure
facilitation of project implementation type
Assessment if project team is functioning
well and staffed appropriately
Project audits can act as both reactive and proactive forces for project
managers. Conducting audits while in the process of a project initiates
proactive responses. Conducting audits after the fact allows PM’s to
approach future projects with improved processes.
Before conducting a project audit, Clifford Gray outlines steps to help
ensure a successful assessment.
Keep the mindset that the audit is not a
Focus on project issues not the
individuals performing them
Auditing should impose minimal threat to
employees and efforts of sensitivity should be made
Data accuracy should be verifiable
Senior management should openly support
project audits and provide the team with maximum access to audit
Audit objectives include learning from
mistakes and conserving value
Audit process should be quick
Audit leaders have access to senior
management above project managers
The actual auditing process falls into three steps. First, the
initiation and staffing phase occurs, with results dependent on the
organization. This step works well as an automatic process in removing
perceptions of a witch-hunt approach (Gray, 2005, p. 463).
Characteristics possessed by the audit leader include no direct
involvement in the project, respect for stakeholders, willingness to
listen, reporting without fear, having the best interest of the
organization for decision-making, and experience and expertise in the
organization or industry (Gray, 2005, p. 464). Data collection and
analysis stem from two auditing perspectives including organizational
and the project team views. Organization views help determine such
questions as the organizational culture correctness, sufficient
management support, intended project accomplishment, identification of
appropriate risks, and adequate staffing during and after the project
(Gray, 2005, p. 464). Project team views answer such factors as
appropriateness of plans and control systems, over or under budget and
schedule numbers, adequate stakeholder communication, and sufficient
access to organizational resources (Gray, 2005, p. 465). The third step
includes reporting to capture changes needed and lessons learned.
“The report serves as a training instrument
for project managers of future projects” (Gray, 2005 p. 465). A general
outline for the reporting process includes the following as defined by
Classification of project
Analysis of information gathered
Conducting project audits involves an
important aspect of project management. “When done on a consistent
basis, audits can lead to significant improvements in the processes and
techniques that organizations use to complete projects” (Gray, 2005, p.
466). Once projects are in the closing process, different forms of
closure exist. First, the most common form occurs when the project is
simply completed; this is the normal condition (Gray, 2005, p. 471). The
premature circumstance occurs with early project completion through
elimination of certain parts of the project (Gray, 2005, p. 472). Next,
the perpetual condition occurs when the project becomes continuous due
to required changes; thus seeming never-ending (Gray, 2005, p. 472). The
fourth project type includes the failed project where the project fails
due to different reasons (Gray, 2005, p. 473). The final project
condition, changed priority, includes projects that incorporate revised
priorities to reflect changes in organizational direction (Gray, 2005,
Project closure includes the five main activities as defined by Clifford
Receive delivery acceptance from the
Shut down resources and release to new
Reassign project team members
Close accounts and verify payment for all
Evaluate the project team, members, and
manager through such methods as performance reviews
Project managers must learn to balance time, cost, and quality. Often,
the project time or duration becomes longer than desired. Managers can
take different steps to reduce the project duration. Some options
include adding additional staffing or resources, outsourcing, adding
overtime, establishing a core team, performing activities twice,
creating a critical chain, reducing the project scope, and reducing the
quality of the product or service. Managers should assess activity
timing, employee morale, and potential risks along with cost evaluation
when choosing the method for project time reduction. Mistakes will occur
throughout a project; however, with careful assessment, PM’s can
introduce continuous improvement and best practices. The proactive
process of auditing includes initiation and staffing, data collection
and analysis, and reporting. The reporting step allows future projects
to have a training instrument to ensure for a more successful outcome.
Gray et al. (3rd ed.). (2005). Project Management: The Managerial
Process. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. New York:
McGraw-Hill Companies. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from University of
Phoenix, rEsource, MBA/590- Strategic Implementation and Alignment: