Document Detail

Title: RR214-11 - Trade-Off Between Cost and Schedule
Publication Date: 12/1/2006
Product Type: Research Report
Status: Reference
Pages: 170
Gokhale, Vanderbilt Univ.; Hastak, Safi, Bayraktar, Purdue Univ.
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Projects must meet budget, schedule, safety, and quality goals to be regarded as a success. Many factors come into play and many decisions are made that influence a project’s outcome. Today, owners are often faced with deciding between a project execution strategy that emphasizes either cost or schedule. Such a decision in favor of emphasizing cost versus schedule may be made not once, but throughout the life cycle of the project.

CII established the Trade-off between Cost and Schedule Research Team to determine answers to the following questions:

  • Once the decision is made to emphasize cost/schedule trade-off, is it possible to identify factors that consistently lead to a successful project?
  • Once these factors are identified, is it possible to develop a tool that can be used to guide users into making the right decisions that will produce repeatable results?

Project teams, when informed that an owner has made a cost/schedule trade-off, will meet and through a brainstorming session, generate common sense ideas, best practices, and other means of achieving the trade-off. What this research offers is a tool for systematically generating these ideas, and for identifying which factors are most effective by project phase.

Through a survey of CII member organizations, the Trade-off between Cost and Schedule Research Team identified 23 techniques that consistently influence project success. In addition, survey participants indicated to what degree those techniques have led to project success. RT214 team has developed a simple yet effective tool to assist project teams in selecting the optimum group of techniques to achieve a specific cost-schedule trade-off. The Cost-Schedule Trade-off Tool (CSTT) offers the following advantages:

  • Applies to projects that are either schedule or cost-driven.
  • Recommends techniques for success unique to each stage of the project.
  • Provides references to selected CII Best Practices for further guidance to the user.
  • Applies not only to trade-off projects, but virtually any project.

The techniques recommended by the tool are not unique: they are routinely used in successful project management. In fact, many of the techniques are CII Best Practices. The key, however, is that CSTT helps the user in knowing the specific techniques to employ at each stage of the project. Project teams can then use these techniques in a more timely fashion to increase the likelihood of project success, particularly in an era when trade-offs are continually being made to favor cost or schedule.