Crashing in project management aims to shorten the duration of the entire project by reducing one or more activities during the life cycle.
In concrete, less time can be spent on completing the project, but doing so requires additional investment.
Precisely for the greater cost that it represents, the crashing of a project is used only in emergency situations. The decision should then take place only after carefully analyzing all the possible alternatives.
The goal is obviously to obtain the maximum reduction in project completion time with the minimum additional cost.
Project crashing is an advanced project management technique that involves adding the appropriate amount of qualified resources to the activities being taken into account. It will inevitably have a direct impact on two of the three constraints, ie. planning and costs.
Crashing accelerates delivery and increases spending; however, it will have no effect on the scope of the project.
If it is not possible to add resources to critical activities, it is not recommended to implement the project crashing.
What methods can be used for project crashing?
There are several methods of crashing a project. Clearly, the modality to be chosen will be the one that allows to speed up the end of the project at the lowest possible cost.
So let’s see the two methodologies in detail:
Method 1: Increase the number of resources
This is the most commonly used method and involves increasing the number of resources dedicated to certain critical activities.
This essentially means reducing the time needed to carry out individual activities by increasing the number of people working on them.
For example, if Luca takes 4 hours to complete an activity, by logic Luca and Martina will take 2 hours each to complete that same activity.
However, adding resources is not always the best solution. In fact, it is sometimes the cause of long-term loss of time. We need therefore to consider the following:
- New resources may not be familiar with the tasks to be performed, so they will probably be less productive than current team members.
- New members will most likely have to be teamed up and led by the most productive members of the team, who could instead dedicate their time completely to the task and get it done more quickly.
- Being available does not mean being qualified. Sometimes the extra resources are qualified yes, but tangentially with respect to the activity, and even if the new resources have the right skills, they may not be of the same quality as the current team members.
- On the contrary, if new resources are over-qualified, conflicts may occur within the team.
For these reasons, if the insertion of new resources proves to be too problematic, there is a second technique that allows the crashing of a project.
Method 2: Fast Tracking
This methodology consists of overlapping activities that were initially programmed in sequence. These activities will therefore take place in parallel, rather than one after the other.
Of course, the application of this technique requires a prior analysis of the feasibility and potential risks.
Other valid alternatives can be:
- divide longer activities into smaller blocks in order to concentrate more work in a shorter period of time;
- reduce latency times between one activity and another;
- review the scope of the project in order to eliminate the tasks considered less important.
Sometimes the best method can even be a combination of the various techniques.
For example, in addition to adding new resources, you can reprogram the project in order to work on multiple items at once rather than sequentially.
For each circumstance and specific project, it is therefore necessary to carefully evaluate the methodology to be implemented because there is no universal approach valid for all situations.
The 6 valid reasons for choosing Project crashing
Project crashing is hard work and is not recommended in many cases. Now let’s see the 6 valid reasons to opt for the crashing of a project as a correct solution:
1. Get the most compression on the duration of a project
The main reason for which project crashing is chosen is precisely to speed up its conclusion.
If the end date of the project needs to be anticipated, the crashing allows you to get the most compression of the planning with the least impact and the lowest cost.
2. When the project has a fixed final date
During the projects, changes are inevitable and may cause a delay in the project plan. When dealing with projects with fixed end dates, this can be a problem.
What can be done when the necessary and obligatory changes to a project cause the postponement of its delivery date?
In this case you have two possibilities: tell the project sponsor that you can not respect the end date and that it must be changed or try to recover the time through project crashing.
The decision to opt for project crashing or not, will depend largely on the relationship with the project sponsor and on how urgent the end date is.
3. When there is a delay
The delays that occur at the beginning and during a project inevitably have an impact on subsequent jobs and on the final delivery date.
In these cases, project crashing can be considered as a way of trying to recover some of the lost time.
4. When the team is involved in other activities
The project may not be the most important thing that is happening within the organization at a given time.
The team, or some members of it, may therefore be needed for other more important projects.
Project crashing is, in this case, a way to free some resources more quickly, so that these are available for other activities or projects.
5. When there are more resources available
Sometimes the opposite can happen from the previous point, ie more resources suddenly become available.
In this case there can be two situations:
- The resource is added and one or more activities are completed more quickly;
- The resource is added but this takes a long time to reach the level of the other team members. In this case, it is more the time invested than the one saved.
Here, the crashing of a project helps to deal with these situations.
6. When a resource needs training
Finally, another situation is one in which a resource is not contributing effectively to the project because it simply does not have the appropriate or updated skills.
Therefore, if the resource is committed to follow a training course, it will obviously not be available to work on the project during that period.
If there are no other resources that can do the work, this will mean postponing the delivery dates of these specific activities.
Hence the crashing of a project offers more flexibility in these cases. For example, the resources could do the job before starting the training or it is possible to accelerate the time when they will return at work.
In conclusion, the business and its environment are today more complex than ever, so project managers must become more rational in making decisions using the most effective tools and techniques.
Before deciding to use project crashing, make sure you have examined all the possible options and have carefully evaluated the cost analysis models. This way you can get the best results for every effort.