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Topics: Quality, Resource Management, Schedule Management
Shorten target date with same resources and quality.
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Today in a job interview, I was asked what would I do if the project target date needed to be shortened with the same resources. I suggested to decrease the quality but that was rejected. Does anyone have a proper answer?
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For my point of view we need to manage the Real Priorities in order to redefine the workload and the goals.
The First step for me is to redefine the real priorities, For example with the priority matrix, to setup what is important and urgent, minimize interruptions / non-urgencies
Second step: Delegation or postponement for what is not urgent and not important.
Personally I will never said that I decrease the quality of job, in fact we need to have in mind Customer Satisfaction in first and to found a solution to manage priorities and planning :-) . Good luck !
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Yes I would not decrease quality. If you want to decrease anything it would be quantity i.e. prioritizing deliverable based on business value and move those with little value to the bottom of the stack. You won't deliver everything but only high value items before the target date.

If the requirement is to still deliver everything before the target date then you need to look at you critical path activities and see where you can get time from. Depending on the skills at your disposal you might want to look at redeploying resources on the critical path activities to try and fast track them.
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It depends on the project and the duration. If the resources are exempt and the time can be made up with a short burst of Over time that may be worth it but that is always risky as more overtime and rushed work can lead to burn out and faulty work. You can look at crashing the schedule some to run more things in parallel if possible which can increase risk. If this is doable you would need to ensure the Executive Sponsor is aware of the increased risk due to the steps taken to meet the new date. I would review the expected deliverables for what is critical for delivery and look for opportunities to shift some capabilities out if not critical to what the business is expecting at delivery. This would take close involvement with the Executive Sponsor to manage any changes in scope this may cause. Without changing the resources or quality there isn’t much else you can do.
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1 reply by Muthukrishnan Ramakrishnan
Dec 10, 2018 9:14 AM
Muthukrishnan Ramakrishnan
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I'd agree on sam
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It depends. You may be able to change the schedule and still use the same resource. For sure, reducing the quality is not a good idea for the interview.
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Talat -

Fast tracking is an option if there are soft/discretionary dependencies between activities. However, fast tracking could create risks of rework...

Kiron
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What is the objective of asking you such a question? Consider such an event occurs while you are handling a project. Say, your Client demands you to reschedule the target delivery date then:
- How would you handle this event?
- What would be your stress level?
- How would you communicate with your stakeholders?
- How would you mitigate the risks?
Do you see it is a case study based approach? You will have to weave a story based on your experience on how you handled such an event. If you have not come across such an event during your tenure, then as well, you might not be considered for this position.
Such kind of questions would help the interviewer understand your strengths and other traits. I am hoping you would agree.
Quality is the only feature that would help you, your team, and your organization to sustain. How can you say that you would miss Quality targets?
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I completely agree with others, quality trade-off is a no no in any project as customer satisfaction is always priority. Speaking from construction stand point, the best will be to review the critical path activities, determine ways to shorten the path duration by either reassigning resources from non-critical activities to some resource-dependent critical activities or, by working with the project team to determine if some duration-dependent activities duration on the critical path can be reduced. Close monitoring of near critical activities will be required to ensure on time delivery of those work packages. Interactive Planning Session (IPS) will be of great value in this situation.
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Also, you can review the schedule to validate whether any activities can be run in parallel.
- Are all the dependencies in the plan really required?
- Do you have resources waiting for output from other resources, and can this be optimized?
- Or could you swap resources between tasks to better utilize more experienced/skilled resources on critical path tasks in an attempt to shorten the critical path?
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Always, after getting a schedule, the first thing to do is working on it trying to make it better on terms of project duration. Project manager must do that not matter it was asked or not. If you follow the PMBOK then you will find what to use inside 6.5 Develop Schedule process. When you use all the possible techniques to make the schedule better then you have covered the first part of the question. So, if after that, you present the schedule and you are asking for shorten the target date with the same resources then project scope must be reviewed without forgotten that project scope is defined from product scope and product scope is not a matter of project management is a matter of business analysis.
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I agree with Kiron, Fast Tracking is a viable option but there is high risk of rework - quality issues. Another option would be introducing an incentive scheme that will motivate your staff to be more productive and yet the timeline will be shortened when productivity increases without compromising quality. I did that on one of the construction jobs I was managing in Qatar back in 2008.
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