Project Crashing in Project Management: Definition & Best Practices

Updated Oct 15, 2022.

One of the best-known ways to speed project completion in project management is through project crashing.

Since it is natural for projects to go in a different direction from the originally planned path and may result in the project being delayed, a reasonable solution is to project crash.

The project’s success is the most important factor in project management, and the project manager is vested with this responsibility.

Project crashing has proven reliable among various strategies project managers use to complete projects successfully and speed up the completion date and project timeline.

Applying the knowledge of how project crashing works to your new project makes fast-tracking the project completion date possible and achievable.

This guide will show you all you need to know about project crashing in project management.

Let’s get started.

What is Project Crashing in Project Management?

In simple terms, project crashing involves strategically changing the project schedule by reducing the time required to complete tasks and adding resources to ensure you complete the entire project sooner than the originally scheduled time.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), crashing refers to the various actions taken to reduce the project duration by analyzing other alternatives to know how to complete the project for the least cost.

Apart from speeding up the completion date, various challenges and obstacles may arise, which may cause delays in project completion. Crashing is an effective technique to rise above this problem.

Project crashing also involves adding more resources or redirecting resources to a project that is not in line with the schedule of the original project plan.

Simple Project Plan Template_
Source: Smartsheet

Adding resources to projects will help speed up the completion process. On the other hand, this action will result in an increased cost of the overall project.

The primary aim of project crashing is to help shorten the time allotted to complete a project and keep costs minimal.

5 Common Reasons for Project Crashing by a Project Manager

Before crashing a project, it is vital to consider the original project schedule, cost, and the extent of the crash. With this information, you can determine if the project scope will remain intact with just a price change.

Project crashing is an effective project management technique with many benefits that project managers take advantage of if the need arises. Certain factors that occur during project execution prompts crashing.

These are five reasons for the project crashing.

1. Project Schedule Delay

A project manager may decide to crash the ongoing project if it is not in sync with the originally scheduled time or completion date.

Crashing may also be the appropriate course of action if there seems no other alternative. Project managers may also result in a project crashing if they will be penalized if they fail to finish the project by the completion date.

Project schedule delays may happen if the team members do not fully understand the project timeline and go on to execute the project.

By insisting on an unrealistic due date by sponsors, customers, and stakeholders, the necessary result will be a delay in the completion of the project, resulting in the project crashing.

Project Title - Project Schedule
Source: Vertex42

2. Resource Availability

Suppose more resources are available to execute the project. In that case, the manager may decide to use these resources to execute a certain project to speed up its completion and finish it ahead of the original schedule.

Schedule crashing may require additional resources, including increasing the team members and other relevant assets to fast-track the project process.

With more resources available, the project team can do more, increase productivity at a higher level and finish the project sooner than the given deadline.

3. To Avoid More Delays

If a project lags or does not appear to fit in with the project timeline, there could be a negative impact on other projects and cause future delays.

With this in mind, you will have to consider the best action to prevent more delays in other projects. The project will incur more costs and delay if necessary actions are not taken.

Avoid more delays by crashing one project to allow other projects to be completed.

4. Time Bonuses

Certain companies give bonuses to their staff members for different reasons. They may range from good conduct to punctuality or the ability to meet deadlines. These bonuses are positive reinforcement and enable the staff members to do more and stay motivated.

Project managers see these bonuses as a motivator, especially if the organization rewards early completion of projects.

On the other, it is important to calculate the extra expense incurred in expediting and also determine if spending extra will benefit you financially in the long run.

If you get a time bonus that gives you a revised project timeline (a later deadline to finish the project as against the original deadline), finishing the project sooner if you can is beneficial.

5. Additional Workforce

Organizations employ more staff when there is a vacancy. After employment, they are required to train these new staff to ensure they are effective at their work and can complete one or more tasks assigned to them.

The employment process involves training new staff and assigning them to a particular project until their training is completed and they successfully crash the project.

The availability of an additional workforce makes crashing a project easier and feasible.

Best Practices When Crashing Your Project

In most cases, crashing an ongoing project is usually the last resort. Project crashing is a very risky technique project managers use to fast-track the project process and ensure it is completed earlier than the given deadline.

You must consider certain vital factors before you crash a project.

1. Are the Task in the Critical Path?

You must consider if the tasks you are willing to crash are on the critical path. If these tasks are not on the critical path, you can ignore them.

2. Length of the Task (Short or Long Task)

Carefully consider the length of a task (long tasks and short ones). If the task you are willing to crash is a short task.

Crashing short tasks is difficult compared to long ones, especially if they do not often appear in the project process. Irrespective of the task length, you will need resources to crash the project successfully.

If you do not have readily available accurate resources, you will need to add resources to crash the project successfully. Increasing resources will imply that crashing is not a cost-effective option for the project.

3. How Long it Takes to Crash a Project

The time it takes to ramp up the project crashing process is also a factor to consider. For example, if the project involves very specific skills and includes new team members in the crushing process, the cost of crashing the project will be high and time-consuming.

Finally, the perfect time to crash a project may seem to be later in the project execution process when all seems to have been done to avoid delays and ensure that the project is completed at the due time. In reality, this is not the best time to crash the project.

The perfect time for crashing is earlier in the project timeline, specifically when the project is halfway done.

4. Use Project Management Software

Project managers can use the best project management software such as, ClickUp, Wrike, and Teamwork to manage every aspect of their projects, including project crashing situations.

Project Crashing Management Stages

After you have gathered enough information about crashing in project management and how it works, you can easily decide if crashing is the best course of action.

1. Critical Path

The first thing you do is to analyze the critical path of your project critically. This knowledge will help you know what tasks you can shorten by investing additional resources to bring the project to a close sooner than the overall schedule.

The critical path method helps you to know which tasks are essential and also those that are secondary to the success of the project.

2. Identify Tasks

Create a detailed list of every given task. After this, you can properly assess these tasks with the involvement of your team members to see which tasks are on the critical path and can be crashed.

With the information obtained from evaluating these tasks, you can begin to work on information obtained from evaluating these tasks. You can use the best task management software to help you manage your tasks.

3. What are the Trade-Offs?

After identifying the tasks in the critical path, you perceive you can shorten, start calculating the cost of adding more resources.

After this, determine which task to allocate additional resources to and which will come out earlier than the given deadline with minimal pressure on the budget.

4. Decide

The next step is to choose the most cost-effective task so you do not incur too much cost and avoid straining the budget.

Project crashing is not just adding resources to get done faster but getting the most in return for that extra expense.

5. Create a Budget

Without a project budget, executing a project crashing plan is practically impossible. You will have to update your baseline, schedule, and resource plan to align with your new initiative.

Example of Project Crashing in Project Management

You are tasked with supplying 1,000 notepads for a school’s anniversary as a printer. To execute this task, you need the school's principal's approval before you and your team can proceed.

The principal had to travel due to an emergency that required the principal’s immediate attention. As a result, there was a little delay in the project execution.

To meet the school’s anniversary date, you will have to require additional resources like more workers to complete the project as when due or earlier.

By crashing this project, you have incurred more costs. You may need to crash your project for various reasons as a project manager. If you apply this project management technique, it is important to follow the right steps to get the appropriate result.

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Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.