Crashing in Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide’s Top 3 Software RecommendationsLet work for you.Start Free TrialWork smarter with Wrike.Try for FreeIncrease productivity with Smartsheet.Try Smartsheet for FreeNearly every experienced project manager has been through it. When a project is handed to you with a challenging or nearly impossible schedule, the task is to deliver on time. You are told to either “crash the schedule” or “make it happen” when you mention the project’s behind schedule. ”
I am a long-time project manager and now offer advice to others on how to manage projects and portfolios. The term “scheduled crashing” still makes me shiver. I can picture a train wreck. Not a well-designed product, or service that is delivered on time. Schedule crashing may sound simple in theory, but in practice it is very risky and requires careful evaluation to determine if it will help or hurt.
This article will explain the basic premise behind schedule crashing as well as the risks associated with a schedule crash effort. Next, I’ll answer seven questions that will help you determine if schedule crashing is a good idea for your project. When you have an opinion about the best way to proceed with your project, you can combine the schedule crashing assessment with the risks.
Schedule Crashing Defined
As defined by, schedule crashing is “Reducing the completion time of a project by sharply increasing manpower and/or other expenses, ” while the Quality Council of Indiana,Aos Certified Six Sigma Black Belt Primer defines it as “,APto apply more resources to complete an activity in a shorter time. ” (p.V-46). Schedule crashing is described in the fourth edition of Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), as a form of schedule compression. This includes overtime and paying for expedited delivery of products or services. (PMBOK p.156). However, I tend to think of overtime as another type of scheduling compression,Ai not even crashing.
Schedule crashing, from a scheduling perspective assumes that there is a straight mathematical formula between the number laborers required to complete the task and the calendar time needed to do it. Simply put, if a 40-hour task takes a person five days (40 hours/one individual * 8 hours/day=5 day), then schedule crashing would say that assigning five resources would take 40 hours/5 people*8 hour/day=1day.
Crashing: The Risks
Frederick Brooks had a lot to say about schedule crashing in “The Mythical Month”. Brooks’ groundbreaking work on software engineering explains that schedule crashing can be caused by many factors, including the dependence of many work activities upon their preceding activities, and the increased cost for communication. Brook’s Law is now known as this phenomenon. Adding resources to a late project actually slows down the project. Brook’s Law was demonstrated to me on a large project that was led by a prestigious consultancy firm. The client requested additional resources in the last two months of the program. Because the existing resources were unable to train new staff, the program delivered in just four months instead of the usual two.
There are additional risks associated with crashing, such as increased project costs if they crash attempt fails, delayed delivery if team performance is adversely affected by the crash, conflict if new team members are incorporated into the existing team to share responsibility, risk to product quality due to uneven or poorly coordinated work, safety risks from the addition inexperienced people.
Schedule crashing at its extreme can lead to serious consequences.

Crashing in Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide
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