How many times have you worked on a task just to end up missing the deadline? Perhaps you took off more than you could manage, or maybe you underestimated how long it'll take to finish everything.
It could happen to everybody: we have too many on our plates, the scope of the project is unclear, lack of communication, and so on. So, instead of panicking, take a break and decompress and then begin brainstorming methods to properly catch up on the period of time you've missed. One of the most effective strategies to prevent this is to accelerate the project timetable. In this post, we will tackle fast-tracking in project management and offer a full analysis of this method. You will learn what it really is, what the benefits and drawbacks are, and how you can effectively establish it.
What is Fast-Tracking in Project Management?
Fast-tracking is a project management strategy in which tasks are completed in parallel rather than consecutively based on the original plan. This strategy, however, may be used only when the overlapping jobs are not reliant on one other. Rearranging tasks to facilitate fast-tracking entails some risks. Because you are doing all jobs in one go, you may need to revise the project, which may also cause your completion date to be pushed back even more.
Fast-tracking is a project management approach for compressing schedules. Let us define what we meant by scheduling compression.
What is a Schedule Compression?
Schedule compression is the process of shortening the length of a project timeline without sacrificing the work that must be completed within that time frame.
There are several reasons why a schedule might be required to be compressed at a certain point throughout a project. It might be that your project has been stalled and is exceeding a critical deadline. It could be that new circumstances have emerged that affect a customer's expectations. It could also be that completing a project ahead of schedule would provide you with additional advantages.
There are two types of Schedule Compression:
Whatever method you employ, managing your schedule, particularly altering it to get things done fast, will necessitate the usage of project management software. The majority of project scheduling is done using a Gantt chart.
Fast-Tracking or Crashing?
To fulfill a project schedule, fast-tracking in project management necessitates parallel tasks, while crashing necessitates increasing resources for a project in order to achieve important deadlines. Crashing entails increasing expenses in order to shorten the timeline.
Fast-tracking necessitates the team executing numerous activities at the same time. This increase in pace might cause strain on the team and divert their attention away from other tasks. Even though crashing may appear to be the simplest option, it requires an additional financial expenditure that may impact the budget for other tasks. Crashing has limitations since it frequently increases expenses without achieving its primary goal and relies on third-party providers and money invested.
It is essential to understand that projects are constantly subject to change, rather than being shorter, they are becoming longer, which has a negative influence on the initial timeline. You should not fast-track or crash certain operations that are not important. Even though you lessen the critical route, this does not guarantee you extra time.
When to Fast-Track your Project?
There are times when the project management team may deviate from the initial plan, resulting in a change in timescales or expenses.
Change may be positive and beneficial, but it could also be a warning that something is wrong and needs to be readdressed. And if the project requires changes for some reason, fast tracking might be exactly what your team needs.
Fast-tracking is frequently used on projects that miss the schedule, which is unsatisfactory and very undesirable. Here are some reasons why you might prefer to fast-track your project:
- Unexpected problems that were not previously anticipated or evaluated can be detected. In that instance, the project might be pushed in order to prevent these risks.
- Milestones might be missed because of either staff or management changes, delayed material deliveries, or other challenges within a company. When such situations arise, fast tracking helps compensate for the time wasted.
- Merging teams to do comparable activities not just to help accelerate completion but also not increase employee fees.
- If the competitor states that they're going to be providing a similar system before you, it is a great idea to reevaluate the project schedule.
- The corporation maybe chooses to move the launch right before the major industry exhibit begins, or the CEO may want to please investors at the special meeting.
The Advantages of Fast-Tracking a Project
Fast-tracking does not come without drawbacks, as we will discuss later. Fast-tracking, in practice, increases the likelihood of dangers emerging. But there are advantages to it, or project leaders would not use it to compress their deadlines.
When implemented right, there are numerous benefits to fast-tracking a project. The main advantageous elements are as follows:
- When you use a fast-tracking method properly, you may cluster related work and complete projects faster.
- When a project is delivered ahead of schedule, the resources are allowed to concentrate on other projects. This will enable you to complete several tasks using the same resources.
- Early project launch increases the company's potential of producing innovative solutions and advancing itself from other competitors.
The Disadvantages of Fast-Tracking a Project
Fast-tracking a project seems appealing because it allows you to complete numerous tasks concurrently and maybe fulfill them before the schedule. However, there are significant risks that can harm other projects; below are some negatives of using fast-tracking:
- Fast-tracking can be one of the most difficult workplace practices to execute. A handful of prerequisites must be met by the management group in order to build a structured fast-tracking program.
- Poor communication, especially under stressful settings, can result in cost overestimation, damage to relationships, and significant delays.
- Material consistency and quality management can fail as well, needing an excess of design changes, which just adds to the problems.
- Running a fast track on a project inside a single project can thin out workers all over the entire organization.
- Error detection and correction are more challenging. Be mindful that unexpected project changes frequently result in rework, which is repeating a process that was done improperly the first time.
How to Fast-Track a Project?
Effective planning is necessary, like any important project approach. Fast-tracking a project necessitates a set of meticulous planning and implementation that employ schedule compression techniques as needed. To begin using this project management method, follow these simple steps:
1. Identify the problem
Examine your project's specifications, goals, targets, priorities, and objectives. Then, attempt to properly grasp why you ended up running off the tracks and determine whether fast-tracking will genuinely solve your issue or generate yet more difficulties.
2. Create a plan
Consider which activities are interdependent and the timeline of your project. Evaluate the essential route, which corresponds to the overall period of the entire project's vital tasks. This can assist you in setting the most effective schedule while still accomplishing every one of the important jobs.
3. Examine your resources
Make certain that the project construction plan is in sync with the team's volume of work and is doable. The ideal tool for this is a team timeline. You can try to schedule assignments to ensure that your coworkers are capable of carrying out their responsibilities.
4. Keep track of your progress and implement changes
After you've created a fast-tracking strategy and changed your timeline, your team may begin implementing it. While your team implements your latest fast-tracking, keep an eye on the progress of a project and make revisions to your plan and deadline as necessary.
5. Talk to your team
Interact with the team as often as you can because it is the most effective method to avoid problems. Ensure that everybody understands exactly what to do, that no task gets repeated, and that each person has everything they need to fulfill their tasks on schedule.
Project managers do have a variety of tools, strategies, and techniques in their arsenal to guarantee that the project's schedules are met. Fast-tracking is one of those strategies.
Whenever things are starting to go wrong, it allows project managers to maintain control of the project timeline. This excellent scheduling strategy can truly save your business if the activities in your project timeline are not depending on each other.
Fast-tracking is an excellent method for shifting your project schedule in order to complete tasks on time, even though the plan has a few twists and turns down the route. Don't be too concerned about the risks; there are various methods to prevent them if you plan ahead of time.
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