Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Fast-tracking tasks to shorten a schedule, part of Project Management Foundations: Schedules.
Remember those tasks that you linked together so one starts after the previous one finishes? Once a project is under way, you can bend the rules a little for those dependencies to shorten the schedule. It's called fast-tracking, because you're pushing tasks to occur faster than they normally would. The concept behind fast-tracking tasks is simple. Overlap tasks that would normally run in sequence so that the second task starts before the first one is finished. To do this, all you have to do is adjust the task dependency to include negative live time as discussed when we covered Live.
Because the goal is shortening the project schedule, candidates for fast tracking are the tasks on the critical path. That's because shortening tasks on the critical path shortens the entire schedule. Here's an example from the sample project. Initially, laying out the employee handbook doesn't start until the content has been revised and approved, but the schedule needs to be a few days shorter. One option is to fast track the revised content task, and the layout employee handbook task, and overlap them by two days.
As one person revises the content, another person lays out the revised content in the handbook file. By overlapping these tasks, the project finish date is an entire week earlier. The disadvantage to fast tracking is it adds some risk to the project. In the sample project, there's a risk that changes to the content will be identified after work has begun on laying out the handbook. If that happens, the corrected content has to be reinserted into the handbook file. A little extra work. To make the most of fast tracking, choose tasks that present the least amount of risk.
For example, fast tracking laying out the handbook is less risky than fast tracking the task to identify courses and duration. When you fast-track tasks, fast-track one pair of tasks at a time, that's because the overlaps you add can change the tasks on the critical path. For example, in our sample project, after fast-tracking, revising content, and laying out the handbook, the task for developing orientation content are no longer on the critical path. And because of the dependency between build template and layout employee handbook, the task to design the employee handbook are now on the critical path. If you need to fast track more tasks, be sure that they're on the critical path so the fast tracking shortens the project schedule.
If you're willing to accept some additional risk, fast-tracking is an easy way to shorten the project schedule.
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- Identifying the work that needs to be done
- Adding milestones
- Delaying or overlapping tasks with lag and lead time
- Assigning resources
- Balancing workloads
- Adding buffers and baselines to the schedule
- Uncovering and correcting out schedule problems<br><br>
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