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Topics: Estimating, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)
Schedule compression
Hi All,

I wonder if anybody could set me straight on my query below?

I got a question wrong on Rita Mulcahy's mock exam related to scheduling. According to the answer all schedules should be compressed before they are finalized.

However if you compress the schedule before finalizing as a matter of course then where does they leave you to go if any schedule issues arise while the project is being executed?

I get that you might have to compress a schedule up front in order to meet a client or sponsor imposed deadline but if there is no requirement to do that why compress the schedule? Especially when you considered it has cost and risk implications.

Am I getting this all wrong?

Thanks in advance
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Hi Again Thomas

I have not been to a PMI congress since 2008 also that was the time I stopped volunteering for PMI as well.

Maybe one day, I will re-attend
Good discussion points from Thomas and Mounir. Thank you. yes its now very common for clients or project sponsors to set their expected completion dates and contractors have to resource to meet that date. Even if the date is not set. it is also competitive to set your completion date much earlier than expected by the client as long as you can sufficiently resource the project.
Why should we not compress the schedule before we fnalize it? Is the project better served by finishing a 25-day uncompressed schedule two days early or by finsihing a 20-day compressed schedule two days late?

Some thoughts. 1. Agree with Mounir's comments. 2. Schedule compression (crashing/fast tracking) does not deal with padding (and/or reserves). 3. PMBOK Guide does not mention any sequence among the processes and rightly so. 4. I have noticed maximum number of aspirants follow Rita's book which may help them pass the exam but it does not help them to understand essence of PMBOK Guide. One of biggest cons of Rita's book is its own process chart and sequences among the processes -  5. The Q can be correctly answered only by someone studying Rita's book (only this book explains sequences among the processes) 6. In the real world the sequence of the processes would depend on the project situation and environment. 7a Answer to the Q - The Q does not provide complete details. You need to make a few assumptions before answering the Q. 7b. Option A is correct if you assume everything else has been done. 7c. Option C is correct if you assume resource optimization has not been been done. 7c. Option D is correct if you assume activity list has not been created. Please note that, in PMBOK Guide, PDM is TT for 'Sequence Activities' but does not mean that PDM cannot be used for sequencing the work packages. 7b. As a best answer, only for the exam purposes, I would go with option C but with some iffiness.

Hi Praveen,

you are correct that PMBoK does not deal with padding.
I also agree that the essence of the PMBoK is by far not understood, even by PMPs and trainers.

Contrary to common belief, the PMP exam is not based on PMBoK Guide and for sure not on Rita's Exam Prep. It is based on the Exam Content Outline (ECO) and developed/verifed by peers that take a bulk of literature into account, including the above mentioned books.
If you apply for the exam you have to show at least 3 years of experience leading projects and the questions you face are more and more scenario-based and not only based on knowledge by the book.

I would argue that even from PMBoK you can derive a sequence for some processes, which is defined by the deliverables (inputs/outputs). For example, if you need the WBS for input, it has to be developed upfront. Notwithstanding that it will be updated or 'progressively elaborated'.

So, in my opinion, answers B and D are not probable, as both mention deliverables to be developed before sequencing activities (yes, their durations have even be estimated) can even start.
Compress the schedule has to be done BEFORE finalizing it for this iteration, as it is a TT for schedule development.

Hence C is correct.
Hi Thomas,

At the outset, let me sat that, I also wrote C in my reply above - "I would go with option C but with some iffiness"

Now, let me reply to your points 1 by 1.

I did not say "PMBOK Guide does not deal with padding". All I said was "Schedule compression (crashing/fast tracking) does not deal with padding". Schedule compression has an entirely different meaning.

Since, you very well understand what is progressive elaboration, I do not need to say any more.

It is possible to derive a sequence of processes through IO but it does not mean another sequence is not possible. A few quotes from the guide
Pg 6 last para - "...the development of the project management plan is an iterative activity and is progressively elaborated throughout the project’s life cycle..."
Pg 52 last para - "the development of the project management plan is an iterative activity and is progressively elaborated throughout the project’s life cycle..."
Same lines are written in pg 50 & 60 also.
Pg 142 3rd para - "On some projects, especially those of smaller scope, defining activities, sequencing activities, estimating activity resources, estimating activity durations, and developing the schedule model are so tightly linked that they are viewed as a single process that can be performed by a person over a relatively short period of time. These processes are presented here as distinct elements because the tools and techniques for each process are different."

Again For exam purposes, I am OK with C. But in real world (as I wrote in my previous post) A & D could be right options. I can compress schedule even after finalizing - please refer to TT for process "Control Schedule". And, I can create more activities even after sequencing.
Hi Praveen, no threat intended.

I can see you are quite knowledgable about the PMBoK - I hope this discussion can help PMP aspirants to think about some topics, so we can disagree. In the end, Simon brought it up because he saw a potential raft between Rita and PMBoK.

Another rule for the exam to observe is that there might be 4 correct answers to a question, but only one is the best. And, according to PMBoK, it strives to document processes, tools and techniques for most of the projects, most of the time. So, while acknowledging that the PM reality has many aspects, a test for what is 'best' might be if it is applicable to most or at least many projects or usually. If the applicant has PM experience, this can help the judgement.

My opinion is (and you tend to go this direction) the correct answer can only be 'C'.

Hi Thomas, Difference of opinion keeps any community going :) But, I don't think there is an disagreement here. What I intended to say was that Rita's book has its own process chart which, in many ways, is not conformant with PMBOK Guide. PMBOK Guide does not define a sequence among the processes. But Rita's book does it consistently. Many people love Rita's process chart but, somehow, I find it disconcerting. It is just a matter of opinion. There are many good things about the Rita's book though.


First, I have to say that we are RMC (Rita's) partner - so our opinion might be biased.

With the disclaimer above - let us have a professional discussion.

Praveen, how is Rita's book "not conformant with PMBOK Guide"? Rita's book elaborate and expand on the guide but that is to clarify so I cannot see how it is non-conformant.

Keep in mind if the Guide does not say something and other expand on that - that does not mean it is not conformant.

For example, the latest editions of the guide does not talk about Stage Gates - does it mean stage gates do not exist?

Before 5th edition Guide did not have a definition of success - does it mean we do not measure success?

Up to the 5th edition there is no mention of Benefits Realization (changing in the upcoming version) does it mean we should not consider benefits?

Guide does not mention feasibility - so no feasibility?

Now back to the question of sequence - how did you determine that the guide does not have sequence? It does - you cannot do a WBS without scope statement and no schedule without a WBS, etc. The sequence is there - same as Rita's. In Rita's book it is clearer - and there is iteration.

I do not agree 100% with the PMBOK or Rita on the sequence ---- to me I do a WBS (start it at least) then scope statement - then define quality before scheduling - but at the end does not matter as long as we iterate.

Mounir, Kindly read my previous post again. I said "...Rita's book has its own process chart which, in many ways, is not conformant with PMBOK Guide." Having said that, many people like Rita's process chart and swear by it. I did not say Rita's book in general is non-conformant.  Regarding, sequence among PMBOK Guide's processes. In my previous to previous post in this discussion, I gave evidence from the PMBOK Guide where it clearly mentions that sequence cannot be defined. Pg 50, para 1 of PMBOK Guide - "The project management processes are presented as discrete elements with well-defined interfaces. However, in practice they overlap and interact in ways that are not completely detailed in this document. Most experienced project management practitioners recognize there is more than one way to manage a project. The required Process Groups and their processes are guides for applying appropriate project management knowledge and skills during the project. The application of the project management processes is iterative, and many processes are repeated during the project." Scope stmt, WBS, schedule, in most projects, would be done in a sequence. But, it does not mean that WBS cannot be updated after creating a part of schedule. It does not also mean that a scope stmt, WBS and schedule cannot be developed together. In addition, in many projects, you may create a small initial activities schedule for the team so that they start the work. Then you may start developing a formal scope stmt and WBS. Hope it clarifies.

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