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What Is Fast-Tracking in Project Management?

Project managers have a number of tools and techniques they can use to meet critical deadlines. One of those techniques is called fast-tracking — a method of accelerating a project to deliver the end product sooner. Fast-tracking in project management is a schedule compression technique often used alongside the crashing technique. Crashing is when additional resources are allocated to a project to speed up its completion. 

What is schedule compression?

Schedule compression is a term used to describe the methods and techniques a project manager will use to shorten the project lifecycle. Schedule compression aims to preserve the existing project scope.

What is fast-tracking in project management?

Fast-tracking in project management refers to a method where tasks that would ordinarily be completed in sequential order are instead completed concurrently. Fast-tracking a project can indicate a number of things, including that the project is at risk of not finishing on time. However, it may also reflect an unrealistic deadline or even a desire to bring a product to market faster.

To use fast-tracking in project management, you must first go over the critical path and identify which tasks can be performed parallel to one another. 

For example, when planning a party, you cannot hang up decorations if a venue has not first been chosen. These are two tasks that cannot run parallel to one another. However, in this same example, hanging up decorations and setting out the party snacks are two activities that can be done simultaneously to quicken the time to the end result.

What are the risks of fast-tracking in project management?

As the PMBOK Guide points out, “fast-tracking may result in rework and increased risk.” For instance, the project may become more difficult to control because of increased complexity. The overall quality and efficiency of the work may also suffer due to tasks beginning in the middle of other tasks. 

When both the fast-tracking and crashing techniques are applied, budget increase/overrun is also a possibility. This is because the crashing technique requires adding additional resources (overtime, workforce, etc.) to a project for faster completion.