Fast-tracking is about getting where you're going faster than usual. Unfortunately, like people who drink coffee, dial into conference calls, and apply makeup while driving to work, fast-tracking in project management can also increase risk considerably.
Fast-tracking a project means overlapping tasks that usually follow one another. At its best, fast-tracking shortens a project schedule without increasing cost or sacrificing quality. For example, if you're launching products in different markets, the creative advertising folks can work on the ads, while the media planners line up advertising outlets, and the accounting department negotiates the price of advertising spots.
The risk is that work done in a predecessor task doesn't mix with work that's already been done in an overlapping successor task. Backtracking to recover from these wrong turns can negatively affect your project time, money, quality, or scope. Microsoft Project's integration with Excel is a perfect example of the risk in fast-tracking. Microsoft teams worked on all the Office 2007 products at the same time. Because of ongoing changes, as this book goes to press, Project 2007 is unable to work directly with Excel 2007 files.
Some tasks are more conducive to overlapping than others. For example, tasks earlier in the project are riskier to overlap. Designs tend to change in the early stages, so you wouldn't want to pour concrete based on early sketches. Once the design is ...