Project Management

Crashing in Project Management: How to Do It and Why It Matters

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Crashing in Project Management: How to Do It and Why It Matters
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Crashing in Project Management: How to Do It and Why It Matters

Let’s picture a high-speed chase in an action movie. The hero needs to catch the villains before they get away, but time is running out. So, the hero pushes his car to the limit, swerves through traffic, and takes risks he wouldn’t normally consider…

In project management, crashing is like that – a desperate, high-pressure situation where you need to do whatever it takes to reach your goal on time.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the topic of crashing in project management. We’ll also discuss the benefits, risks, and best practices of project crashing and, finally, look at an example of how it’s been used successfully.

What does crashing mean in project management

What does crashing mean in project management?

Project crashing is a project management technique that can help you finish your project faster. To use it, you need to identify the most important parts of your project you must complete on time. We call them critical tasks.

Once you know these critical tasks, you can add more resources or work on them faster to speed up the whole project. It’s like putting more workers on a job to get it done quicker. By doing this, you can finish your project earlier than you would have otherwise.

Project Management Institute defines crashing as “Taking action to decrease the total project durations after analyzing a number of alternatives to determine how to get the maximum duration compression for the least cost”.

To define crashing in project management in simpler terms, imagine putting a turbocharger on a car engine. Just as a turbocharger adds extra power to the engine to make it go faster, crashing adds extra resources and activities to critical path tasks to speed up the project’s completion. However, just as a turbocharger can increase the car’s fuel consumption and maintenance costs, crashing can increase the project’s overall cost and risks.

Note that in project management, crashing requires careful planning and precise execution. It’s essential to use this technique with caution and only when necessary.

Let’s look into two more concepts for better clarity.

  • Crashing the schedule

    Schedule crashing is a technique in project management to compress the project schedule with no impact on the scope or quality of the project. It’s used when there is a need to accelerate the completion of the project or when the project is behind schedule.

    You can implement schedule crashing by assigning additional staff, increasing the work hours, using overtime or working on weekends.

  • Crashing tasks

    Crashing tasks in project management may involve identifying the tasks to crash, determining the crashing time and cost, evaluating the impact, implementing the crash plan, and communicating the changes to stakeholders.

Project crashing: different interpretations to consider

In project management, crashing may have different interpretations, depending on the context. Below you’ll find some of them:

Time-cost tradeoff: Project crashing is often associated with the time-cost tradeoff, a technique that managers use to balance the time and cost of a project’s completion. In this interpretation, project crashing involves adding extra resources to shorten the project’s duration, which in turn increases the project’s cost.

Risk management: Project crashing can also serve as a risk management strategy. If a project is behind schedule, you may use project crashing to reduce the risk of delays, which could have a negative impact on the project’s success.

Resource optimization: Finally, crashing a project in project management may be a resource optimization technique. By adding more resources to critical path tasks, you can complete those tasks more quickly and efficiently. As a result, you free up necessary resources for other tasks in the project.

When to consider project crashing factors to keep in mind

When to consider project crashing: factors to keep in mind

Running a project that has fallen behind its baseline schedule? Chances are you need to crash your project to get it back on track. Consider these situations when project crashing should be most useful:

  • Tasks are taking longer than anticipated: If the critical path tasks are taking longer than expected, the project team may consider adding extra resources or activities to those tasks to speed up their completion.
  • A change in project scope: A change in the project scope may require the project team to complete the project sooner than planned. In this situation, project crashing may be used to reduce the project’s duration and meet the new deadline.
  • A risk of delays: Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances may affect your decisions. Therefore, you may use project crashing to accelerate the project’s completion and mitigate the risks.
  • Financial incentives: Some projects may have financial incentives for early completion. In such cases, you may use project crashing to complete the project early and take advantage of the incentives.
  • Another project puts your project at risk: You may be well on track with every task in your project. But when priorities change or an urgent project pops up, you may need to rethink your project’s deadline to align with your team’s larger objectives.

Without doubt, you should carefully assess the situation and consider the project’s goals, resources, and constraints before deciding to use project crashing.

The importance of crashing in project management

The importance of crashing in project management

Project crashing is an important technique in project management that can help accelerate the project’s completion. Here’re the pros you can benefit from:

Finish faster: Project crashing helps you manage your time effectively by shortening the project’s duration. By doing so, project managers can ensure that the project is completed on time or even ahead of schedule. Obviously, this can positively impact the team’s and organization’s success.

Eliminate delays: Cost overruns? Missed deadlines? If a project is behind schedule, you may use project crashing as a risk management strategy to reduce the risk of delays and deliver it on time.

Optimize your efforts: Need to free up resources and relocate them? Project crashing can help you optimize your efforts by adding extra resources to critical path tasks. By doing so, you can complete those tasks more quickly and efficiently.

Delight your customers: Project crashing can help you meet customer expectations by delivering the project on time or even ahead of schedule. This can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, fostering the organization’s reputation and success.

Boost your bottom line: By completing the project early, organizations can reduce their costs or increase their revenue, thus bringing a positive impact to their bottom line.

How to do crashing in project management a step-by-step process

How to do crashing in project management a step-by-step process

Best practices give us a hint about the main steps involved in implementing a crash plan in project management:

Step 1: Identify the critical path.

As explained above, the critical path is the sequence of activities that determine the project’s duration. These are the tasks you must complete on time to deliver the entire project within the target timeline.

Step 2: Determine the crashing options.

Once you’ve identified the critical path, you need to determine the available options for crashing the project. This can include adding resources, working overtime, using more efficient equipment or compressing work schedules.

Step 3: Analyze the cost and time tradeoffs.

For each crashing option, you need to analyze the cost and time tradeoffs. Several questions need answers here. For example, how much will the additional resources cost? Or how much time will you save?

Step 4: Determine the optimal crashing plan.

The cost and time tradeoffs analysis will help you determine the optimal crashing plan. This plan should minimize the project’s duration while keeping costs within budget and maintaining the required quality standards.

Step 5: Implement the crashing plan.

It’s time to put your crashing plan into action! Add the necessary resources and resequence tasks to reduce the project’s duration.

Step 6: Monitor progress.

Now you need to monitor the project’s progress closely. Track the additional resources used, the time saved, and the impact on the overall project budget and quality. If needed, make adjustments to the crashing plan to ensure its efficiency.

Step 7: Evaluate results.

Have you achieved the desired results? A thorough evaluation of the outcomes will provide valuable insights and help you improve your future projects.

Overall, crashing in project management requires careful analysis of different options and the costs and benefits associated with them. That’s why you should also consider the differences between project management techniques. We’ll compare two of those methods next.

Fast-tracking vs. crashing method in project management – choosing the right option

Fast-tracking vs. crashing method in project management – choosing the right option

Fast-tracking and crashing are both project management techniques that can be used to reduce the project’s duration and accelerate its completion. However, they work in different ways and have different impacts on the project’s cost and risk.

Fast-tracking involves overlapping or performing activities in parallel that would normally be done in sequence. This technique can reduce the project’s duration, but it also increases the risk of rework and can result in a lower-quality product.

Fast-tracking is most useful when there is some degree of flexibility in the project schedule. In particular, it’s useful when you can perform certain activities in parallel without increasing the risk of rework.

On the other hand, project crashing involves adding resources to critical path tasks to reduce their duration and accelerate the project’s completion. This technique can be expensive but can also reduce the project’s duration without increasing the risk of rework or compromising quality.

Project crashing is most effective when you can shorten certain critical path tasks by adding additional resources. By the way, the cost of the additional resources can be justified by the time savings.

In general, if there is flexibility in the project schedule and overlapping activities won’t result in increased risk or lower quality, fast-tracking may be the preferred option. However, if you have critical path tasks that you can’t perform simultaneously, then you may opt for project crashing.

Ultimately, the choice between fast-tracking and project crashing will depend on the specific circumstances of the project. These include the project’s goals, constraints, and available resources. It’s important to carefully assess the costs and benefits of each option before making a decision.

Crashing a project without damage Five advanced tips.

Crashing a project without damage: Five advanced tips.

Feeling lost in the face of a challenging project? If you find it hard to decide whether or not to crash a project, consider these pro tips before making a decision:

Tip 1: Assess the criticality of the project.

Before deciding to crash a project, it’s important to assess the criticality of the project. Ask yourself, is the project crash worth the additional cost and risk associated with it? If the project isn’t critical or doesn’t have a significant impact on the organization’s success, it may be a smarter decision to avoid crashing the project.

Tip 2: Consider alternative options.

Before deciding to crash the project, consider alternative options that may be more effective and less risky. For example, you may be able to re-prioritize tasks, improve communication or negotiate additional resources to complete the project on time

Tip 3: Communicate with stakeholders.

More importantly, you must communicate with all stakeholders, including the project team, customers, and management, about the decision to crash the project. Explain the benefits and risks associated with project crashing and get buy-in from all stakeholders before proceeding. Remember, such drastic measures cannot be implemented without the sponsor or primary stakeholders agreeing to the changes.

Tip 4: Evaluate the impact on quality.

When crashing a project, it’s important to consider the impact on quality. Adding resources may result in rushed work or reduced attention to detail, which may lead to defects or rework. Therefore, consider the project’s criticality and the level of quality required. Ensure that crashing doesn’t compromise the quality.

Tip 5: Make it easier with project management software.

Crashing a project becomes much easier with robust project management tools. For example, with Teamly, you can plan, execute, and monitor your projects. By using Teamly’s features, you’ll easily identify critical tasks, allocate resources efficiently, and track progress to complete projects within the target timeline. Moreover, Teamly offers a collaboration feature that allows you to communicate with your team and clients to speed up project delivery.

Crashing in project management examples to learn from

Crashing in project management: examples to learn from

In theory, everything may sound simple and easy. But what is project crashing in project management when it comes to real-life examples? Some well-known projects can help us get a deeper view of this technique.

NASA’s Apollo 13 mission was a prime example of successful project management in the face of adversity. The mission was launched in 1970 with the goal of landing astronauts on the moon. But things took a turn for the worse. An oxygen tank exploded, damaging the spacecraft and jeopardizing the lives of the three astronauts on board.

NASA’s team immediately went to work on a plan to bring the astronauts safely back to Earth. First, they identified the series of tasks that were essential for bringing the astronauts home safely. Second, they applied the crashing method by adding additional resources, such as engineers and technicians, to work on these critical tasks. This enabled them to complete tasks much faster than they would have otherwise been able to do.

Ultimately, the project management team’s efforts paid off, and the Apollo 13 mission was a success. The astronauts were safely brought back to Earth. The mission was dubbed a “successful failure” and is often cited as a testament to the importance of effective project management in even the most challenging of circumstances.


In the world of project management, few strategies are as high-stakes as project crashing. When everything is on the line and time is running out, crashing a project in project management can make the difference between success and failure for a major undertaking. It’s an adrenaline-fueled effort that requires precision, planning, and courage.

But project crashing is more than just a last-ditch effort to get everything done on time. It’s a symbol of the incredible power of human innovation and determination. When faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we have the ability to come up with bold solutions, take calculated risks, and push ourselves to the limit.

So, the next time you’re in a high-pressure situation, embrace the challenge and trust in your own abilities to achieve the impossible. Who knows – you might surprise yourself and your team with what you’re capable of!


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