Fast Tracking: A Special Area of Risk Management

Anne Gromöller

In the book of project management methods, fast tracking is one technique that always has a prominent place. Fast tracking can be a wonderful way of shortening a project’s schedule and achieving early completion—that is, if everything works out as planned. It can, however, easily cause rework to be required, and in the worst-case scenario the final timelines will be longer than they initially would have been without applying the fast-tracking approach.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to carefully weigh the risks prior to making the decision regarding whether or not fast tracking is the right option for the project. The unique situation about this particular type of risk planning is that project managers can make a conscious decision to take the risk, or they can opt to avoid it. The price for risk avoidance here is that the opportunity that would have been offered by fast tracking is also being rejected.

What it comes down to in the end is weighing the potential benefits that could be gained from fast tracking against the possible losses. This needs to include a quantitative estimate, both of the probability of success versus failure and of the impact for both, or actually all, scenarios. In real-life situations there are usually not just beneficial and undesired outcomes, but many possible situations which will produce intermediate results. It is …

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"Of all the 36 alternatives, running away is best."

- Chinese Proverb

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