What is project crashing and how to get the best out of it? This is what we will cover in this article.
Actually, there is never enough time to manage a project and that’s why schedules are made. The goal is to try to manage tasks on time and budget.
Sometimes, however, things go wrong. Project changes are obviously a common thing, but it is the project manager’s responsibility to make sure that these changes do not have a negative impact on the project schedule.
Some steps or situations in project management may need to be reassessed and the plan revised as needs arise.
An example of such reassessment is known as project crashing, a technique used to accelerate the timeline of a project.
What is project crashing?
This technique shortens the duration of a project by reducing the time of one or more tasks through increasing resources or finding shortcuts by eliminating unnecessary tasks.
Needless to say, more resources means higher project cost in general and therefore a change in earned value.
According to the triple constraint of the project – scope, cost and time – in fact, if you shorten the project duration, the costs increase or the project scope is reduced.
In the case of project crashing, the scope must remain the same, i.e., the results expected at the beginning of the project are not expected to change, which necessarily means increased costs.
Thus, the main goal of a project crashing is to reduce the duration of activities while keeping costs to a minimum.
Reasons to choose a project crashing
Choosing this strategy is a fairly extreme action that can be taken for the following reasons:
- If you may face significant penalties or fines due to delays in the project timeline, it may be worthwhile to add more resources to advance your completion date.
- If your organization happens to have additional resources, using them can help speed up the project schedule.
- If you can be eligible for a bonus based on your project completion date, paying the cost of additional resources to complete the project sooner may make financial sense in the long run.
- When an organization trains new staff members, it can assign additional project activities to those employees while they complete their training.
- If your team is working on one project and is tasked to take on a new one, the original project may get a crashing so that you can finish it faster and focus on the new project sooner.
Project crashing best practices
Project crashing is generally the last strategy to be resorted to, because it is not risk-free.
There are a few factors you need to consider before taking this route:
- The activities you are trying to speed up are within the critical path
- ? If tasks are not within the critical path, you can probably ignore them rather than think about project crashing.
- What is the task duration? A short task will be difficult to speed up, especially if it is not repeated throughout the project. In the case of a longer task, crashing might make sense, but you need to make sure you have the appropriate additional resources.
- How long does project crashing take? For example, if the project requires very specific skills and hiring new resources would take a long time, the experts’ suggestion is to avoid this strategy. Also, crashing is most effective early in the timeline, usually when a project is less than halfway through completion.
Project crashing management steps
Once you have decided to make use of project crashing, here are the steps you should follow:
- Critical path: The first thing to do is to determine and analyze the project’s critical path. This will help determine which activities can be shortened or accelerated to complete the project sooner.
- Determine activities: Get a list of all the tasks, then meet with those to whom they have been assigned to and ask if they believe any or all of the critical path tasks could be reduced. If the answer is positive, start looking for ways to accelerate these tasks.
- Calculate costs: After narrowing down the activities in the critical path that you believe can be shortened, you move on to calculate how much it will cost to add more resources.
- Make a choice: When it is known how much you will have to spend, in relation to the time saved, on each activity in the critical path, you then move on to make a decision by choosing the least expensive route. Project crashing, in fact, is not just about adding resources to get it done faster, but getting the most for that extra expense. The project manager, in most cases, will need stakeholder approval to receive approval for changes to the project.
- Execute changes: After receiving approval for the increased budget and revised project timeline, you can start adding resources and accelerating identified activities. This step may involve training new staff members, redirecting resources to the project, or allowing those involved in the project to learn new skills.
- Implement the appropriate changes: Just as in any project, once a decision has been made regarding a change, the next step is to update all project documentation, il schedule, plan, and the Gantt.
It is important to stress that project crashing is not a risk-free strategy.
Failing to do it correctly means sending the entire project into a tailspin, driving costs through the roof and missing the original deadline, thus setting yourself up for assured failure.
Therefore, evaluating the execution of a project crash is much easier if you have the right tools for the job.
A project management software allows you to create graphic timelines, and budget and schedule simulations, allowing you to experiment with different crashing strategies and its use then allows you to make the best choice.