What is crashing in project management? Not an easy answer that could be summed up in a sentence.

Let’s dive in.

The path to project completion comprises critical tasks and deadlines. Thus, it falls on the project manager to orchestrate an optimal workflow. Once a new project commences, the project timeline should be already set in stone.

However, various challenges stay in the way of the critical path. The need for additional resources might suddenly arise as the project budget dwindles. Yet, there are tricks like crashing in project management that you can use.

What Is Crashing in Project Management – A Definition

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As the project completion date draws near, brands must prevent future delays. The project’s success often rests on on-time completion. Therefore, any fast-tracking trick is welcome at that point. Project crashing is one such method that fits the ongoing project schedule.

Generally, project crashing relies on resource availability. It requires funneling more additional resources than originally scheduled. So, while it can add to the project cost, project crashing can also cover other fronts.

For example, in some cases, project managers opt to scale down the project’s limits. At the same time, they don’t lose sight of the project’s critical path. The result is project time compression, which won’t require a new budget.

Also, project crashing can be a shortcut to a better spread project timeline. Once the team goes full speed on a crucial task, they can continue the momentum. So, the element of execution is pivotal and fundamental.

What Is Crashing in Project Management – Goals

Effective Project Management

The critical path method demands that all tasks end on time. Otherwise, there might be a domino effect that pushes each deadline behind. Hence, adding more resources for certain tasks can prevent any future derailing. As such, it might prove the cheaper and smarter move to make.

Thinking in Advance

A project shouldn’t have any unnecessary tasks. Instead, all legs of the timeline should work as dependencies. Still, wrong estimates can take the project team out of that rhythm. Luckily, crashing can produce time bonuses to make up for a wrong estimate.

The Least Costly Approach

Each of the project crashing management stages aims for budget savings. So, even when extra costs due to utilities arrive, crashing can be a proper trade-off. However, be careful not to overreach when sizing up the crashing scope.

Stick to the Project Path

External factors can force a delay in the project’s start date. That can severely upset the project sponsors’ expectations. Crashing can put the timetable back on track, though.

A Practical Solution

An error in the project’s schedule stage can haunt the entire workflow. Things like unfeasible deadlines lead to one future delay after another. Project crashing can correct this and set a pace similar to what was originally planned.

Missing a Deadline

As soon as the team falls behind with a deadline, it is a call for time reduction. So, the rest of the project should go better than planned. While using project management software can lend a helping hand, crashing is another solution.

Produce Extra Resources

Making leeway as you complete the project at a faster rate can create a reward. Aside from time-saving, the project sponsors might decide to throw in a bonus. Hence, project crashing can prove lucrative when used optimally.

Allocate Resources Correctly

Project crashing often comes down to assigning additional manpower. So, if you have such options at the ready, you can use them to safely boost the completion time.

Proper Usage of Specific Skills

Some tasks might prove too much for new team members. Before long, you’ll need to provide additional training and have a vacant spot. Hence, you’ll need to make up for that by funding more resources.

Time Management

A single aspect of the project can prove problematic and slow everybody else down. That means the dependent tasks won’t begin until you find a solution. Crashing is also a means to work around such pitfalls and ensure the work remains underway.

Boost Up the Overall Performance

Conditions can change in a way that impacts the end date. This can prompt you to move the schedule even months ahead of the queue. Such schedule compression warrants the usage of project crashing.

Quickly Move to the Next Challenge

Even if you don’t have to finish a project earlier, a new prospect may inspire you to do so. That way, you’ll release the resources and crash them elsewhere. Such prioritizing is often the best move to make.

What Is Crashing in Project Management – Best Practices

Paving the Way for Profit

Chasing after a new opportunity by crashing an older project also carries a risk. Hence, you must carefully weigh the ins and outs before committing. Otherwise, your input might prove hastily done in hindsight.

Pick the Right Project Type to Crash

Recurring and prolonged tasks usually come with enough room for adjustments. Yet, not all types allow for a speedier approach. For example, you can’t crash a task that demands you to onboard several new members to complete it. Also, you can’t easily reassign the roles that involve a specific set of skills.

Find the Best Position for Each Team Member

In short, crashing is an exercise in efficacy. To pull it off, you need to properly divide the tasks so that each member can excel. Also, think about hiring freelancers or experts for that intervention. Though limited, their help can prove decisive.

Bring Everyone Up to Speed

Before you can use your whole time to crash a project, you must train them properly. That’s why crashing is not always the best option. If you need to spend resources in the name of training, perhaps it isn’t the cheapest route.

React On Time

Do a detailed analysis of your ongoing projects and decide which one to crash first. Then, once you’re certain speeding up a task will bring results, act quickly. The sooner you begin crashing the project, the more space you’ll have to oversee it.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Crashing in Project Management

Carefully Plan Out Your Moves

When managing several projects at once, start by inspecting their timelines. Focus on the usual completion times of the critical tasks. Then, look for the best chain of actions to cross them one at a time. Also, review which team members can successfully crash which project.

Shortening the project length will often ask for an influx of resources. Therefore, calculate such costs ahead of time and insert ways to make up for them. To that end, it’s best to put the tasks that you can’t compress in a separate list. Afterward, focus on the ones where you can boost the team’s performance.

Communicate With Your Team

After grouping the tasks by relevance, check which team members work on a key task. This will give you an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. To instruct them better, consider scheduling a team-building exercise. Then, let everyone express their take on the situation.

Regularly Review and Update Your Strategy

Once work commences, collect as much data as you can and evaluate the progress. Try to summarize each position via pros and cons. This will allow you to conclude which project you can crash for the most beneficial outcome.

Trim the Overall Project Costs

Whether you opt to fast-track a project or crash it by adding resources, aim to save on costs. If possible, try to fast-track two tasks at once without affecting the other moving parts. Otherwise, focus on one move at a time via effective project crashing.

Present Your Case to the Sponsors

Mark any changes you make to the timeline and highlight the reason for them. Review your plan and take all expenses into consideration. Above all, focus on the potential time reduction. That way, you’ll have a strong case when asking the sponsors for additional resources.

Walk Your Talk

Once your schedule crashing plan gets a green light, consider the new budget before taking action. Next, start allocating resources to the areas necessary for speeding things up. For example, invest in new trainees and assign more manpower elsewhere.

How to Spot a Saturation Point

  • Crash a project as long as it is financially logical to do so
  • Aim for excessive time reduction and stop once there

Pros of Project Crashing

  • Quicker turnaround time
  • Bounce back after a downward slope
  • Complete simpler tasks with efficacy

Cons of Project Crashing

  • Often a risky move
  • Can inflate the total costs
  • Impossible to apply to any situation
  • Hefty consequences
  • Can disrupt the team’s cohesion
  • Can negatively impact your overall productivity
  • Resources for new trainees
  • The initial costs can climb too high

Conclusion on What Is Crashing in Project Management

Project crashing is a daring move that should follow careful examination. It can quickly resolve an issue and free up space if done correctly. Still, it’s best to resort to it when already in a good spot. The result of a project crashing is often unclear, meaning the gamble might not pay off.

However, various time constraints can put your team in a corner. To dig out a path, opting to cross one item off the list at a time is a sound strategy. In such cases, proper team management becomes the order of the day.

If you liked this article talking about what is crashing in project management, you should check out this one with innovation frameworks.

I also wrote about similar topics like what is a war room, project management forecasting, the s-curve in project management, lag time in project management, and primary and secondary stakeholders.


I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.