Project Management guide
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What is project crashing in project management?

No matter how much time and attention you pay to planning for your project, obstacles can still arise and delay completion. That’s where project crashing comes in. Project crashing in project management is a method used to speed up a project’s timeline by adding additional resources without changing the scope of the project. Crashing activities in project management could include adding extra personnel to a task to help it finish more quickly, or it could involve paying a premium for a faster result.

Crashing in project management example

Let’s consider this simple project crashing example. Your team is tasked with launching a magazine to celebrate your company’s 50th anniversary, but delays in approving the lead feature have caused the project to fall behind. In order to ensure the magazine is in hand by the anniversary party, an element of the project’s scope that can’t be changed, you choose to pay a rush fee for the printer. This project crashing step helped you meet the immovable deadline, but it also increased your project budget. 

A construction contractor might choose to employ a different type of project crashing. Inclement weather caused a delay in pouring a house’s foundation, which has subsequently delayed each step following. Unfortunately, the roofers are only available during the dates scheduled for your project, so the contractor has a choice: she can either pay extra workers to frame the house more quickly so the roofers can proceed as they were originally scheduled, or she can wait until they have another opening to put a roof on the house. 

Waiting until the roofers have another opening might seem like a choice that could preserve the budget, but it would likely lead to more delays in succeeding elements like electricity or flooring, which can’t be started without a roof. Additional delays will inevitably impact other scheduled projects that can’t start because manpower is tied up in this incomplete house. Because the scope of the project cannot change in order to reach completion, crashing activities will be necessary here as well.

Timeline and budget trade-offs

Both of these crashing in project management examples demonstrate the critical trade-off when utilizing this technique. The method is designed to help you reach a deadline or milestone more quickly, but it will require you use additional resources to do so. Therefore, crashing in project management is a method that needs to be considered carefully, as it is likely to result in other elements of a project falling behind, or the overall project budget increasing. 

It is best to employ project crashing when not doing so will lead to an even larger increase in the budget, or when missing the deadline simply isn’t an option.