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Microsoft Project 2007: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore

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Paying More for Faster Delivery

Spending more money to deliver in less time can make financial sense. A high-tech doodad that's obsolete in 2 years can't afford a delay getting to market. The sales you make could add up to more than the premium you have to pay to finish the project earlier.

Crashing is the term project managers use for shortening a schedule by throwing more resources at tasks. It's not as dire as it sounds, although it sometimes describes what happens when a horde of people try to work on the same task. To the uninitiated, crashing seems like an easy choice. If 2 people can build your Web site in 12 weeks, then 4 Web developers should wrap it up in only 6 weeks, but it doesn't always work out that way. (And sometimes crashing doesn't work at all. The box on Using a Spreadsheet to Choose Tasks to Crash explains why.)

It's easy to assume that crashing won't change cost—it looks like you're paying the same rate for the same number of hours. In reality, there's always a trade-off between time and money. When you crash tasks, you must choose the tasks that shorten the schedule for the least amount of money. That's because every task has a magical duration that results in the minimum cost. If the task runs longer, you spend more money on things like office space, people's salaries and benefits, and keeping the fridge stocked with Cherry Garcia ice cream. Ironically, shorter tasks cost more, too—for items like additional computers, higher-cost contractors, and managing the ...

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