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Fast Tracking in Project Management: Check Examples & Benefits

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19th Feb, 2024
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    Fast Tracking in Project Management: Check Examples & Benefits

    Risk in business if handled correctly, brings great results, otherwise, it destroys any business. Fast tracking technique in Project Management is mainly concerned with risk. For many years the basic project rule has been to take a single project at a time, plan the project completion and follow that plan.  

    Over the years, this cycle has gone through many changes. Small businesses especially don't prefer another project since they never know when to take one. Hence, a fast track technique has been generated which solves multiple problems at once. Similar to this, there are a lot of things that are concerned with fast-tracking alone. Take PMP certification course online to get certified in Project Management. 

    Fast Tracking in Project Management

    What is Fast Tracking in Project Management? 

    In managing projects, fast tracking entails performing tasks concurrently instead of in order. This one is referred to as parallel processing. Contrary to how most projects are completed, fast-tracking will not wait for one task to finish before starting the next.  

    Certain actions are interdependent, so one cannot commence or cease before the other. Therefore, for fast-tracking to manage projects effectively, all tasks must be allowed to coincide. Furthermore, fast-tracking is an option if development projects do not intersect because it typically does not incur additional expenditures. 

    Experts claimed that moving project implementation around to expedite them could raise the risk. Project managers may need to modify the plan because all operations are completed in one go. Reconfiguring the project will probably cost time and force someone in charge to extend the final deadline. 

    Hence, not everybody may benefit from project management's fast-track schedule. Additional methods could be employed when carrying out the project. The project manager must always make the judgment of which of these alternatives is best suited for the job and its contributors.  

    a. What is Schedule Compression?

    With managing projects, schedule compression is a method for cutting the project's duration while maintaining its scope. It's frequently used to modify the project timeline when someone needs to complete an assignment earlier than anticipated or is running behind schedule. 

    Whenever a project leader or manager needs to condense the timetable, they utilize fast-tracking and crashing. Unfortunately, project crashing is a different tactic used by project managers.   

    Whatever method a person may use, software for project management will be necessary for managing the schedule, particularly for accelerating completion. Gantt charts are commonly used for managing projects. 

    b. Project Crashing in Project Management 

    An approach called "project crashing" involves adding extra funds to the project while striving to keep expenses as low as possible. These costs and timeline modifications are examined for acquiring the most compression at the lowest price for the project. Furthermore, crashing will raise the project's expenses since it requires more resources. 

    The last crash cost per time unit is used as the basis for examining schedule and budget considerations. This helps the team understand which tasks will be most valuable while still being reasonably priced. An analysis's findings are presented as a crash chart. The time-saving measures with the smallest price hike are displayed inside the crash chart.  

    Crashing in project Management
    Project failure is really only possible if additional resources can hasten project completion. The extra resources may also include extra pay, rewards, and more. The project in charge examines the extra expenses involved in reaching the objectives.   

    When to Fast Track a Project?

    One must first ask oneself five questions before one can fast-track a project timetable. Anyone can expedite their project if they say 'YES' to these particular points. However, do keep in mind that with a 'NO' to any of the points below, a person mustn't proceed with fast-tracking a PMP project: 

    1. Is the plan reasonable, and does it include all responsibilities and duties? 
    2. Did the individual understand the responsibilities that depend on the person? 
    3. What are the project's requirements, goals, and priorities? 
    4. Does anyone interact with stakeholders effectively? 
    5. Has the project been overseen, governed, and problem-managed? 

    Benefits of Fast Tracking 

    • Increased productivity and efficiency: Fast tracking an activity results in parallel execution which means more than one team member may be actively working together on a set of tasks which may help overcome difficulties and progress faster thereby resulting in increased productivity and efficiency among team members. 
    • Faster completion of projects: The very premise of applying fast tracking or any other schedule compression techniques is to shorten the activity duration, resulting in faster completion of projects and planned activities. 
    • Cost savings: Fast tracking is the only technique that involves parallel execution assuming the same cost, setup, and ways of project execution - thereby resulting in cost savings in the long run. 
    • Improved time management: When a fast-tracking plan is generated, it involves considering the low-level activities and planning engagement of resources among independent activities to achieve the result of efficient time management and task executions by team members.  
    • Better risk management: Though fast tracking increases risks for the project on one hand, it also results in mitigating schedule risks by efficient planning and allocation of resources to yield benefits of parallel execution

    How to Fast Track a Project Step-by-Step?  

    Once it is established that the project might prosper from being expedited, one should do the following seven actions: 

    1. Identifying the objectives and skills while fast-tracking is the very first phase. Without a clear grasp of the skills and the project's objective, one cannot proceed. 
    2. Determine any dependencies between tasks within the project subsequently. For example, one can't work simultaneously if one operation must be finished or commence before the next one can. 
    3. The next step is to review the project timeline to identify areas where we can move things along more quickly, such as tasks that may be completed concurrently without adversely influencing the project. 
    4. Remain aware of all the reasonable timetable variations as well. What can be altered, and what cannot be altered? 
    5. After considering these options, one should begin deciding on the development timetable and determine what can be expedited and what cannot. 
    6. It is not advisable to make these choices in isolation. Before taking action, get the team's and the stakeholders' approval. Before beginning, one really would like to ensure buy-in and alignment across the board. 
    7. As with any project, monitoring and tracking progress is necessary. Recognize problems when they appear and act quickly to fix problems. 

    How Can Project Management Software Help in Fast Tracking?

    Effective fast-tracking within project management depends on preparation. In addition to thoughtful preparation, the project must always be continuously monitored and followed to spot hazards early on and take swift action to address problems. Using real-time data from Project Manager, a cloud-based project management tool, users can rapidly make smarter decisions and help maintain the project on schedule. 

    Using the project management software called "ProjectManager." A person can easily handle the fast-tracking of a project. Even though the person in charge handles different projects over time, fast-tracking a project is completely different since it increases the complexity. But with the use of software, this complexity decreases and also provides some benefits, which are given below: 

    1. Monitor Important Project Metrics Using Dashboards

    Managing and handling projects is one thing. Still, while fast-tracking, the complexity of a project increases more rapidly than ever since managing a single project is one thing. Moreover, managing multiple projects is a new thing that most people find quite difficult even after having so much experience. But even after these problems, a software solution greatly helps. 

    Since tracking every progress throughout the project development and fast-tracking even with a tool seems almost impossible, with the real-time tracking of the project management software, it becomes quite easy. Furthermore, since the progress is recorded in real-time, it becomes quite easy to track and record everything. 

    2. Work the Way Users Want

    Teams can work whatever they wish with the help of many project perspectives. Teams can operate however they see fit with the help of thorough task lists, kanban boards that illustrate workflow, or a calendar that keeps critical events in the forefront. Every tool continuously updates all the information, ensuring that each person functions with the most recent information. This is specifically useful for hybrid teams dispersed throughout the country. 

    3. Create Immediate Reports

    The key part of project management is to record everything and prepare a report to present to the client and the board. Generating an error-free report manually is risky, but with the help of project management software, it becomes very easy to generate a report. Also, the reporting function in Project Manager can be configured to provide only the information that stakeholders need to see. Obtain information on expenses, productivity, and other factors. Whether clients prefer a PDF or hard copy, they are also simple to distribute. You can take the best online Project Management courses and master the project management career.  

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    Tips for Successful Fast Tracking    

    Successful fast tracking means minimizing changes yet achieving the desired compression in the project schedule, which in itself though may sound a little tricky is an art that even experienced project managers yearn to achieve. A list of few tips or best practices for fast-tracking projects may include: 

    1. Communicate well to engage stakeholders effectively with the new plan 
    2. Clarify the intent and corresponding outcomes to senior management to have buy-in 
    3. Ensure the team is well motivated to address any risks/challenges that occur due to fast-tracking 
    4. Ensure there is no scope change or addition of scope in pursuit of shortening the schedule 
    5. Address and manage risks effectively and establish accountabilities 
    6. Activities that are planned to execute in parallel must have the respective assignee and backup with clarification of roles and responsibilities 
    7. Ensure effective change management and quality management to address follow-ups from fast-tracking 

    Advantages of Fast Tracking

    Let us understand the advantages and disadvantages of crashing and fast-tracking. Fast-tracking makes it more likely that dangers may emerge. However, there are advantages to fast-tracking; otherwise, project managers would not use it to cram more work into their timetables. 

    Fast-tracking a project enhances the productivity of the project's resource scheduling, which is among the causes project managers use it. Fast-track projects can undoubtedly assist anyone in catching up on lost time or finishing the job quicker if that is essential.  

    The project may be required to be completed earlier than anticipated due to unforeseen events that make it very challenging to stick to the original deadline. Additionally, it will enable achieving certain targets that may not have been attainable with the initial timeline. 

    Disadvantages of Fast Tracking a Project 

    Risk will rise if a project is accelerated. Its implications are clear: people are now constantly working instead of functioning sequentially. Managing simultaneous tasks is more difficult since a person is attempting to manage them simultaneously. 

    Additionally, handling the triple constraint is still necessary while controlling all project activities simultaneously to meet performance, scope, and budgetary requirements. That's challenging once a person starts working solely on a single task simultaneously, and it gets even harder when they fast-track. 

    Fast-tracking necessitates more careful preparation due to the elevated risk. The project gets too dangerous to attempt fast-tracking unless people are not careful. Any advantages a person might obtain would indeed be overwhelmed by difficulties and problems that could worsen the project or cause it to be sidetracked. 

    Examples of Fast Tracking

    One of the easiest and best examples of fast-tracking in project management will be goes as follows: 

    Suppose, while working on a project, the team decides that the deadline of this project is quite far, but there's another project which needs attention on an immediate basis. So keeping the situation in mind, the team decides to fast-track the project that needs immediate attention. So, after further discussion, the team concluded that every necessary condition was satisfied, so they could fast-track the project by simply outsourcing a team so they could continue with another project. So, in the end, both projects get completed on time. 

    There are few more examples of this wonderful technique that we use in our day-to-day routine without knowing the technicalities of what is fast tracking. Let us look at a few scenarios:

    • You are planning a party and decide to plan the decorations while finalizing the venue. 
    • In any manufacturing industry, fast tracking is very rampant where tasks are handled in parallel to optimize the utilization of resources - eg: car manufacturing, book printing, etc. 
    • The hospitality industry is another area where parallel tasks are done daily to ensure timely delivery and customer satisfaction - eg: restaurants, and eat-outs. Etc. 
    • Event management organizations rely heavily on fast-tracking to reduce the costs of engaging labor again at the same location/event.
    • The construction industry is another popular example where civil engineers perform fast tracking to meet timelines.

    Fast Tracking a Project

    Download the Free Project Fast Tracking Template 

    Looking for the fast tracking in project management pdf template - Download it here. It is important to note that there is no formal template as such for fast tracking - it follows the project management dashboard or tool as per the governance model in the project/organization.

    Common Challenges and Risks of Fast Tracking a Project 

    Fast tracking is no doubt a very beneficial technique in times of adversity. But it carries significant risks as well as it may not be very feasible every time to manage parallel execution and maintain momentum at the same rate to compress the schedule without affecting the overall scope, schedule, or cost baselines.  The following are some common challenges or risks fast tracking may introduce in the project:  

    1. Rework due to conflicts or sync issues among team members 
    2. Stakeholder coordination issues and prioritization conflicts 
    3. Planning and execution challenges in case the project is not adequately staffed 
    4. May introduce a toll on work-life-balance in the team 
    5. Focus on more velocity or churn may affect project quality 
    6. Not all tasks may be independent and fast tracking may affect dependencies unless clearly outlined 
    7. Certain tasks may be missed/overlooked in pursuit of completing activities faster 

    How to Calculate Risk in Fast-Tracking Project Management?

    The simplest way for calculating the risks that fast tracking may introduce is to follow the standard technique used in project management - by calculating the risk exposure i.e. probability or likelihood of occurrence and multiplying it by the potential impact that may occur. So essentially risks related to fast tracking are usually evaluated based on likelihood and impact to generate the overall risk score and categorize them accordingly.

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    Conclusion

    From the above information, the fast track can be a gift for the organization if handled correctly. Also, at the same time, if slightly mishandled, it becomes a curse since handling multiple projects simultaneously is not an easy task. Any project head must consider all the points stated above about when exactly to choose fast-tracking since it is very important to understand the seriousness of the situation for a person.  

    It is very important to understand the concept behind PMI fast tracking. It is not simply another technique a person may use to solve a problem. It is much more than that. If you are eager to learn more, it Is never too late to take up KnowledgeHut's PMP certification course online  

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is an example of fast-tracking?

    Consider a construction project as an instance. To do the process more quickly, one might add a workforce (such as recruiting more electricians) rather than having one individual wire a new house. One of the simplest examples of fast-tracking is this.  

    2Is fast-tracking better than crashing?

    There is no exact answer to this query since each thing provides something while also having some problems. While fast-tracking is about handling more than one project simultaneously, which increases the risks of fast-tracking a project, crashing is concerned with adding more resources to complete a project which also increases the overall cost.   

    3When should fast tracking be used?

    As stated above, there are some criteria or simply saying if the response is yes to some very particular questions, then the project head may proceed with the fast-tracking; otherwise, it is never suggested.

    4What are the disadvantages of fast-tracking?

    The most common disadvantage of fast-tracking is increasing risk since handling and managing multiple projects is never an easy task, and not only this, once opted for fast-tracking, the process not really be stopped since it is a risk that the project head is willing to take so it is never an option to stop using the fast-tracking since people are working overtime already so stopping in the middle will only lead to demotivation among workers.  

    5What does fast-tracking require?

    Understanding the requirements of the project, the goals and objectives, the client's demand, the priorities, practice guidelines, as well as the key path milestones is necessary for fast-tracking.

    6Does Fast Tracking increase the cost?

    No, as fast tracking only works on the rearrangement of activities unlike crashing which involves the addition of resources, there is no additional cost factor associated with this technique. 

    7How long does fast tracking take?

    There is no general principle or thumb rule that can define the time taken by fast tracking as it depends on the project/situation but if planned correctly and applied with caution, fast tracking has been proven to yield positive results in terms of schedule compression. 

    8When should fast tracking not be used?

    As a general principle fast tracking cannot be used in certain situations where the project activities are not independent i..e there are predecessor and successor relationships closely knit or in case there is already a resource crunch across the project in which case, parallel execution may become just another challenge rather than supporting in schedule management. 

    9Do all project managers have access to fast tracking techniques?

    Yes, fast tracking is a general project management technique used for compressing project schedules in cases where projects are delayed or where certain activities have overrun their planned schedule. As such, there is no special access except stakeholder and team buy-in required for its application - hence it is available to use for all project managers.

    10Which technique is better: Project fast tracking or crashing?

    Both the schedule compression techniques of crashing and fast tracking are bound to yield their own set of benefits and there is no comparison as such to state which one can be better among the two. However, in general, as crashing is associated with a cost factor it is applied after fast tracking to complement the benefits of the latter and further compress the project schedule

    Profile

    Rohit Arjun Sambhwani

    Author

    Rohit Arjun Sambhwani is an IT professional having over a decade and half of experience in various roles, domains & organizations, currently playing a leading role with a premier IT services organization. He is a post graduate in Information Technology and enjoys his free time learning new topics, project management, agile coaching, and writing apart from playing with his naughty little one Aryan

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