Fast tracking is an advanced technique for project management, usually applied in time of crisis in company. This method is used to achieve a shorter project duration. General idea of fast tracking is that tasks that has to be completed one by one, starts to be performed in parallel. “The best example of this balancing technique is beginning construction on a building before the design is complete.” (E. Verzuh 2012, s. 245) Another example of fast tracking could be starting a project before we get all necessary information, predicting the most possible answer (A. A. Alhomadi, R. Dehghan,J.Y. Ruwanpura 2011, s. 1966).
When to use fast tracking
Firstly, you need to find all possible activities that could be worked on simultaneously, because this strategy can be performed only if the activities can be overlapped. An important topic, which is worth mentioning, is schedule compression. It is a form of mathematic analysis, which can be used to decrease duration of a project without changing the project scope. In other words, compression is shortening the project schedule to complete all the tasks much sooner than expected (K. Heldman, C.M. Baca, P. Jansen (2007), s.289). Fast tracking is definitely worth considering as a method of schedule compression and it can be used:
- When we have unrealistic deadline,
- We did not get all the resources on time,
- There was an unexpected issue during the project,
- We need to bring the project back on track,
- Due to circumstances beyond one's control,
- We have business opportunity to get another project after finishing present task,
- Client changes the date of delivering the project.
What are the virtues of fast tracking?
Considerably decrease duration of a project. It is a great advantage, no matter if you are individual or the project manager, to deliver and implement the project before the scheduled date. Every client will greet that with enthusiasm if he get his product much sooner than estimated.
Fast tracking does not increase costs. Fast tracking is the cheapest method of compression the project duration. After choosing this strategy we work on the same resources as in the beginning. We do not have to hire new employees, buy new equipment and create more space to work.
Bring the project back on track and on schedule. During developing our project we can meet several elements that may delay work. It cause the threat that project will not be finished on scheduled date. By using fast tracking technique we significantly decrease this threat and we assure that we are going in the right direction again and we will not miss the deadline.
Immediately release the project resources. Fast tracking allow us to allocate the project resources to work on several various tasks. It means, that we are able to developing multiple projects with the same resources and in the same time (K. Heldman, C.M. Baca, P. Jansen (2007), s.291).
What are the dangers of fast tracking?
As mentioned before, fast tracking does not involve any additionally costs, but it leads to increase risk. Using this strategy is not without dangers. Main risks of fast tracking:
- Unpredictable incident can cause the project to lose even more time,
- Performing activities in parallel may lead to obligatory reworking or rearranging single parts of project,
- Highly require focusing on the right activities to achieve maximum benefits of using this technique (K. Heldman, C.M. Baca, P. Jansen (2007), s.289).
Undoubtedly, fast tracking is the first method that should be considered, if we need to shorten duration of developing project. This strategy is not expensive, do not need any additionally resources and may help to reach delivering project on scheduled date. However, we put on high risk choosing this technique. Fast tracking requires great knowledge of project in general, its goals and priorities, good communication and coordination.
- Alhomadi A. A., Dehghan R., Ruwanpura J. Y. (2011). The Predictability of Fast-Track Projects. Elsevier Ltd., 1966-1967.
- Gaurdiner P. D. (2005). Project Management: A Strategic Planning Approach. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 52.
- Heldman K., Baca C. M., Jansen P. (2007). PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide. Wiley Publishing, Indianapolis, Indiana, 289-291.
- Moazzami M., Dehghan R., Ruwanpura J.Y. (2011). Contractual Risks in Fast-Track Projects. Elsevier Ltd., 2552-2554.
- Verzuh E. (2012). Fast Forward MBA in Project management. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 245.
Author: Jakub Postawa