Project management deals with a company’s time and schedule organization. However, you can approach it in many ways. And one such way is the fast-tracking technique. The goal of this unconventional PM method is faster project execution.
As a project manager, your primary job description will be planning. You’ll have to outline all the tasks and deadlines that lead to a successful project. But once you do, you must also put them into practice. You’ll oversee the project from the beginning to the end, ensuring all deadlines are met. This can be tricky since tasks often depend on one another. Before your team can start a new task, it must finish the previous one.
Falling behind on the project schedule is more common than you think. It can happen for several reasons such as undefined project scope or lack of communication. But while project management can be challenging at times, that doesn’t mean you should quit. Instead, you should learn techniques that will put you right back on track.
That’s where fast-tracking comes in. Its main principle is executing several tasks simultaneously. In this way, it rejects the standard PM approach, which tackles each task one by one. Of course, this is only possible if the tasks don’t depend on one another. But if they don’t, it can speed up your project considerably.
In this article, we’ll show you all the pros and cons of fast-tracking in project management.
7 benefits of fast-tracking in project management
Fast-tracking helps you complete your projects faster. It achieves this in the following 7 ways:
Faster project delivery
Project managers who apply the fast-tracking approach are often pleasantly surprised. Namely, they finish the project way ahead of schedule.
As you keep delivering projects early, you’ll soon become one of the most prestigious project managers in your field. Before you know it, you’ll be swimming in job opportunities.
Fast-tracking allows your team to tackle multiple tasks at once. As a result, you’ll finish the project much sooner while maintaining the expected quality.
Once you learn to do this regularly, you’ll have more projects in a year than you used to. And the more you get done, the more money you make.
It can help you get your project back on track
Not all projects go smoothly. Sometimes, you’ll encounter many obstacles along the way. These will ultimately slow down your progress, pushing you behind schedule.
Luckily, fast-tracking can be a big help here. It is a very effective project compression technique that can help you get back on track. This is important because employers place timeliness above all else when looking for PMs.
Projects fall behind schedule for several reasons. One of the most common ones is an overlooked error.
When this happens, your team will have to spend extra hours resolving the issue and getting back on schedule. A solid fast-tracking plan improves the work environment. As a result, your team will recover from mistakes faster.
Frees up some resources early
Early delivery means your resources can go into other projects. This ultimately enables you to finish more projects in a single year.
Consider two independent tasks. One takes eight weeks while the other one may take 5 weeks. Because they’re unrelated to each other, your team can tackle both at once. This saves you five weeks.
Fast-tracking helps you utilize your assets and resources to their fullest. As a result, you require fewer people. Increasing your profits while lowering your expenses means you’ll earn more money.
When you deliver projects ahead of time regularly, you build a positive reputation. This can give you an edge in the industry your company focuses on. Good prestige means more clients. And more clients lead to more profit.
6 drawbacks of fast-tracking in project management
Just like any PM technique, fast-tracking also has its shortcomings. These 6 drawbacks can make you think twice about using this technique:
Fast-tracking in project management can be mentally taxing
Fast-tracking is all about moving quickly. But this increased pressure can take its toll on your team. When your employees deal with more tasks at once, they need to work twice as hard.
If you set the activity bar too high, your employees will feel stressed. As a result, their productivity will worsen and so will the project quality.
You need to identify the critical path
Project fast-tracking relies on identifying the critical path. You shouldn’t use this method if you don’t know how to do this.
Choosing the wrong approach can lead to a waste of effort. Critical paths often change as the project develops, which can make fast-tracking a risky approach.
Difficult To Implement Effectively
Of all project management techniques, fast-tracking is easily the hardest one to execute. You must meet countless requirements before creating a stable fast-tracking schedule.
Monitor the critical path closely
Since the critical path can change easily, you’ll have to monitor it closely. Some critical path activities may cease being critical at one point.
This makes working on it a waste of time and resources. To prevent this, you must constantly monitor the critical path. Keep in mind that this will take a lot of your time and energy.
High risk of low-quality work
Some studies show that humans weren’t made to multitask effectively. Multitasking may even lower the overall quality of work. Thus, fast-tracking requires a team with formidable multitasking skills. If the employees don’t possess such skills, their overall work quality will suffer.
It may lead to unexpected expenses
All of the above may lead to unexpected setbacks. These may be caused by anything from employee burnout to unfixable errors made along the way. Sadly, these setbacks often translate into additional expenses.
Our guide to efficient fast tracking in project management
Fast-tracking is one of the trickiest PM techniques to execute. Here are the 6 principles of successful fast-tracking:
Determine if fast-tracking is the right approach for your project
While fast-tracking helps you finish a project sooner, it isn’t always worth the cost. The extra stress and risks involved should make you think twice before you commit to it.
The following questions can help you make an educated decision:
- How far behind schedule are you?
- What are the critical path activities, and can you fast-track them?
- What are the task dependencies?
- How will the rigorous schedule affect your employees, resources, and organization as a whole?
Identify what went wrong with your schedule
Examine the project requirements, goals, objectives, priorities, and milestones closely. Try to identify what went wrong and caused you to fall behind schedule.
Then, determine if fast-track can help you make up for the lost time. Sometimes, it may make you fall even further behind.
Project management software such as Planyway Timeline can help you better visualize your project. Thus, it can help you determine if fast-tracking is the right option for you.
The following questions can help you in your decision:
- How much time do you need to get back on track?
- What are the critical path tasks?
- Which tasks depend on one another?
- How will these changes affect your employees’ workload?
Only move to the next step once you’re absolutely sure fast-tracking will help you.
Build a plan
Fast-tracking is a very intense process. Before you commence multitasking, you must establish a solid plan.
Project management software can help you while you build one. Cloud-based tools allow your entire team to access project progress and receive task updates. Better communication means better performance.
Monitor your resources closely
Your project schedule must be solid. Each employee’s workload must be manageable to prevent burnout. You can achieve this by using a team timeline tool.
With this tool, you can reschedule tasks immediately to balance out the workload across the team.
Monitor the project
Multitasking is a very chaotic process. To prevent errors, you’ll have to constantly watch over the project. Using project management software can make your job much easier.
You should also update the schedule regularly. Don’t forget to check on your employees from time to time too.
Communicate with your team
Communication is the key to preventing possible problems. Check on your employees regularly. Make sure they understand what they need to do and have everything to carry out their job successfully.
Consider using Planyway. This software improves your collaboration with employees. It comes with several useful features such as comments, notifications, and file sharing. Many PMs use project management software to make their jobs easier and more efficient.
Our final thoughts on fast-tracking in project management
Fast-tracking is a project management technique designed to speed up your project progress. PMs often used to catch up with their deadlines. Good fast-tracking can sometimes even help you deliver your project ahead of time. The key to this technique is tackling several tasks at once rather than working through them one by one.
Although fast-tracking can be very effective, it’s not always a good call. Before you employ this technique, you must first look at your project’s needs. The technique can be very stressful and hectic. Sometimes, it can do more harm than good. Understanding the pros and cons can help you decide if you should use it or not.
If you liked this article talking about fast-tracking in project management, you should check out this one about project management for non-project managers.
I also wrote about similar topics like operations management vs project management, gold plating, monitoring, forward pass, and scheduling techniques in project management.