Advantages And Disadvantages Of Fast Tracking. Is It Right For Your Next Project?
As project demands increase, fast-tracking strategies have become a highly desirable addition to project management teams. We’ve all felt the pressure of a project falling behind schedule and scrambling to get it back on track. However, it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of fast-tracking in project management before you decide if this strategy is right for you.
What Is Fast-Tracking?
Fast-tracking is a project management technique that aims to complete a project in a shorter amount of time than usually allotted. Ultimately, fast-tracking is simply highly-organized multitasking. Most companies adopt this management technique to help minimize the time a team spends on a project, allowing for more projects to be completed throughout the course of the year, and increasing profits.
As great as that sounds, it’s a difficult technique to master and is better used in certain situations than others. Read on to determine when fast tracking is the best option for you and your situation.
When Is Fast Tracking The Best Option?
Can you remember a time when a client unexpectedly requested for their project to be done earlier than originally scheduled, leaving your team rushing to meet the new timeframe? This is a perfect example of a time when fast-tracking your project is the best option, and if done correctly, can leave you with a final project that meets the deadline and maintains your high-quality standards.
There are a few other times when fast-tracking can be useful too, including:
- If you need more people for your project. Combining teams to complete similar tasks, not only gets them done quickly but also doesn’t increase your employee rates, maintaining your bottom line.
- When your schedule is more demanding than usual. A great example of this would be the holiday months. Demands begin to increase, and projects need to be completed with a faster turnaround time, making fast-tracking an ideal solution.
- When you’re trying to beat out the competition. In many cases, when it comes to big projects, it’s important to be the first one to bring it to the public (and if not the first, then the very best!), so fast-tracking can give you a strong advantage over the competition.
- When unexpected issues arise and your project falls behind schedule. Life happens, and when your project sustains a time-altering problem, fast-tracking can be an excellent option to make that time back and get on schedule again.
Now that you have an idea of when you can use fast-tracking, let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of fast-tracking in project management.
Advantages Of Fast-Tracking In Project Management
When done correctly, there can be many advantages of fast-tracking a project. The most beneficial aspects include:
- Can Increase Profit
When you implement a fast-tracking strategy effectively, you’re able to batch similar tasks, completing projects much more quickly. When you’re consistently able to complete projects in less time than previous years, while still maintaining the same quality, you’re able to complete more projects throughout the course of the year and increase profits.
- Reduces Your Project Time
One of the most desirable outcomes of fast-tracking is the significant decrease it can have on your project time. When you fast-track effectively, you’re able to align the individual tasks of your projects in a way that allows you to complete multiple tasks at the same time. While planning this takes an immense amount of project awareness, it provides a unique opportunity to cut your project time.
- Provides A Way To ‘Correct’ A Project
Oftentimes when a project falls behind, it’s directly related to an error that was overlooked, leading to an increase of working hours aimed to fix the problem and get the project back on track. When you’re able to create a well-rounded fast-track plan, you create a positive work environment where you can bounce back from these pitfalls and make up for any lost time so that you can meet the deadline.
When you successfully introduce a fast-tracking strategy, you’re able to increase project output, without requiring more people. When you’re able to increase profits without also having to increase your expenses, the extra projects you’re able to complete become profit.
- Increase Your Industry Authority
A company that is able to produce fast turnaround times is one that is highly desirable in the industry they serve. If you can fast-track your projects successfully, you’ll gain recognition from your clients and valuable word of mouth opportunities.
Fast-tracking can be a beneficial tool in your project management style, however, it does come with some drawbacks that are important to consider before introducing it to your team.
Disadvantages Of Fast-Tracking In Project Management
While there are some appealing factors to consider, there are also some disadvantages of fast-tracking that can seriously affect your project. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Difficult To Implement Effectively
Fast-tracking is one of the more difficult strategies to implement in the workplace. There are a number of requirements that the management team must have in order to create an organized, and well-informed fast-tracking schedule.
- Requires A High Level Of Project Understanding
Fast-tracking requires a strong managerial staff that has a firm understanding of the projects they are leading, and how they can be organized in a way that batches common tasks together, allowing them to be completed at one time. The ability to create a strict outline that reflects the project goals is a vital skill for your project managers to possess.
- High Risk Of Low-Quality Work
Multitasking has been closely linked to a lower quality of work, among other things. When choosing to implement a fast-tracking project management style, you create an atmosphere that demands strong multitasking skills. If your team is not designed with this specific skill set in mind, it greatly increases the risk of the quality of work suffering due to the increased demands and the expectation that your team can easily switch between tasks.
- Increased Stress
When demands are increased, stress often does as well. Fast-tracking requires your employees to complete more tasks at one time, naturally increasing the amount of effort needed during working hours. If you begin to expect more out of your staff than is reasonable, it will cause them excessive stress, affecting their quality of work, lowering their productivity, and creating an unhealthy work environment – which plays a vital role in your employee morale.
- Risk Of Unexpected Costs
With the risk of increased stress rates and lower quality of work, you’re creating a work environment that is more likely to experience unexpected losses, whether it be from employee burnout, irreparable mistakes, or missed tasks altogether. When a project faces these kinds of challenges, additional costs are a common result.
How To Implement Fast-Tracking Effectively
If you’ve weighed the risks and have decided to introduce fast-tracking to your management team, there are a few steps that are essential for you to find success. These include:
- Motivate Your Team
- Communicate Effectively
- Identify Project Goals In Concrete Terms
- Create A Strict Plan
- Establish A Schedule (and sharing it with your entire team)
- Monitor And Adjust As Necessary
- Track Problems To Continue Optimizing Your Fast-Tracking Strategy
Adopting a fast-tracking project management system has both enticing advantages and commonly experienced disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision to implement this type of solution is entirely based on your project demands, the strength of your team, and your management style.