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Fast Tracking in Project Management: How to Estimate the Time of a Task

Fast Tracking in Project Management: How to Estimate the Time of a Task
Bitrix24 Team
February 25, 2022
Last updated: February 25, 2022

All businesses fail to meet deadlines from time to time. To save the day, you might consider using one of the techniques that help you to accelerate work. From this article, you'll get to know what fast tracking in project management means. We'll try to explain the essence of this method, list its pros and cons and provide a four-step plan of how to use it.


Fast-Tracking in Project Management: What Is It?

Traditionally, companies would complete tasks sequentially. But if they want to accelerate the process, they might plan various activities so that they take place in parallel — this approach is known as fast tracking. All the teams always have something to do and don't need to wait for each other. Not all industries and companies can stick to this framework. It can be applied only to those types of activities that can overlap.

Around one-half of all projects fail to meet their deadlines, which leads to large financial losses. Here are the most popular reasons for delays:

  • Poorly defined project scope

  • Deficit of materials or resources

  • Malfunctioning equipment

  • Insufficient productivity

  • Lack of communication

  • Wrong choice of collaboration tools

When you detect a delay, it doesn't mean there is no way out. Fast tracking enables you to shorten the duration of the project and compress its timeline. The earlier you apply this technique, the more likely you'll be to meet the deadline.


Fast Tracking vs. Crashing the Schedule

Working on various tasks in parallel is not the only possible approach to accelerating workflows. Instead of fast tracking, you might try to crash the schedule — that is, add more resources to the tasks you're working on.

Let's imagine a situation when you bake cakes and begin to lag behind the schedule. You can invite more pastry cooks to help you do the job faster. Your expenses will grow but you'll meet the deadline. But if you ask cooks to concentrate on cakes, it means they won't be able to bake other sweets at the same time. Last but not least, when too many professionals work on the same task simultaneously, they might create too much hassle. These are the main drawbacks of crashing.



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The Risks of Fast Tracking

Fast tracking a project might involve the following risks:

  • You might fail to benefit from this method if the task that you would like to accelerate depends on the completion of the one before it. For instance, you can't start decorating the cake as long as it's in the oven.

  • Multitasking might decrease your staff's productivity. People might start to make too many mistakes.

  • It might be challenging for your top managers to control many projects that run in parallel.

  • If the project is already in motion, you might need to invest too much time and effort to rework its schedule and structure. Plus, you'll need to communicate all changes to your staff.

Moreover, there is no 100% guarantee that you'll meet the deadline eventually. You might be able to accelerate only the tasks that are not critical for meeting the deadline.


The Essence of Fast Tracking

Fast tracking can be broken down into four steps. Below, we'll try to briefly analyze each of them.

Compose a Plan

To accelerate a task, you should take the schedule that you have already drafted for it and compress it. Before you start the compression, it would be wise to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time will you need to recover?

  • What activities are on the critical path?

  • What are the dependencies?

Before introducing any change, you should think of its impact on your workflows. For instance, you invite three more cooks to the kitchen to bake the cakes. Will there be enough space for all of them? Do you have enough money to pay them? Do you have all the required ingredients for them or do you need to buy more?

Reconfigure the Schedule

You should identify fast-tracking opportunities and update the schedule. As we have already said, you can fast-track only those tasks that don't depend on the completion of the one before it. If certain activities overlap with each other, you should reconfigure them. At this stage, a timeline or a Gantt chart should come in handy. These tools should enable you to better visualize your critical path activities, task sequences and durations.

Monitor Progress

It's not enough to launch the process of fast tracking. You should keep an eye on it daily to track its efficiency and timely detect any potential pitfalls. Stay in touch with your team to make sure they have all the necessary resources and clearly understand their goals.

Document Problems

Once you've detected an issue, put it down. As soon as you've found a solution for it, put it down. When a similar situation takes place in the future, you'll be prepared for it.


Which Software to Choose for Fast Tracking?

Among all the solutions that are available on the market, you might want to turn primary attention to Bitrix24. It's available in an on-premise or cloud version as well as a mobile app for iOS and Android. It features excellent time, task and project management functionality and can considerably boost your staff's productivity.

Bitrix24 enables you to create an unlimited number of projects and tasks. To automate your workflows, you can create templates for repetitive tasks. For each task, you can add subtasks and checklists. You can distribute tasks among your staff members, set KPIs for them and monitor their performance. This software allows you to visualize information with the help of Kanban boards and Gantt charts. When a bottleneck is likely to occur, the system will warn you about it so that you allocate your resources more rationally.

You'll be able to set access rights for all your departments and staff members. Each professional will see only those tasks and projects that are relevant to them. Depending on their rights, they will be able to only view tasks or also add, delete and edit them.

Bitrix24 can generate insightful reports for managers to help them track and improve their staff's productivity. You can rely on the ready-to-use report templates, or customize them, or create new ones from scratch.

You'll be able to create private and group calendars for all your team members as well as track their clock-in and clock-out times. Whenever you need to discuss something with your team, you can use the in-built contact center of Bitrix24. It allows you to exchange text messages, make audio and video calls and host videoconferences. If needed, you can record your videos. You can attach files and links to your messages and edit the documents collaboratively with your staff members in real-time.

The basic functionality of Bitrix24 is available at no cost. The free plan doesn't have any limitations on the number of users but offers only 5 GB of online storage space. To get access to more space as well as more advanced functionality, you should upgrade to one of three plans. The cheapest one costs $39 per month (please mind that prices can fluctuate over time).


Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand the essence and benefits of fast tracking in project management. This technique enables you to accelerate tasks thanks to working on them in parallel. Such an approach should help you to avoid bottlenecks and meet deadlines. You can apply this method only to those tasks that don't depend on the completion of the ones before them. When choosing optimal software that will help you to fast-track projects, you might want to opt for Bitrix24. It features excellent time, task and project management functionality and can considerably boost your staff's productivity.

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