What Is Crashing in Project Management?

The responsibility of every project manager is to ensure the completion of a project within a set time frame. To do that, they create a plan based on the available resources and the scope of the project. However, in some cases, specific tasks have to be rushed due to unexpected events, which is where project crashing comes in handy.

So, what is crashing in project management exactly, and how does it work?

To answer that, we’ve prepared a short guide that’ll tell you everything you need to know about it. Moreover, you’ll find step-by-step instructions to implement the technique and everything else about the most common reasons to crash a project in the first place.

Project Crashing: Definition

Project crashing is a schedule compression technique. It’s most often used when a project manager wants to speed up the process to ensure the completion of a project on time or ahead of its original schedule without changing its scope. In other words, the result should remain the same, and only the time needed to finish it should change.

The resources allocated to a project are often increased, or unnecessary tasks are eliminated to speed the process up. For that reason, it’s crucial to calculate the return on investment of crashing a project and determine whether it’s a sensible investment.

What Are Five Common Reasons for Crashing a Project?

Before you decide to crash a project, it’s important to first look at the original schedule, cost, and extent. That way, you can determine whether the scope of the project will remain the same, and only the price will change.

An important thing to note is that even though crashing a project comes with increased cost, organizations that invest in project management practices waste 28 times less money in the long run. There are five other reasons why project managers opt for this technique.

1. Project Schedule Delay

If the project is falling behind schedule, you don’t have many courses of action to ensure its completion within time limits. That is especially important if you or your company face penalties due to unforeseeable delays.

2. Resource Availability

If more resources become available, you might decide to allocate them to a certain project and finish it ahead of schedule. Depending on the situation, schedule crashing can require additional finances, assigning new people to the project, or any other relevant extra assets.

3. Avoiding Future Delays

In many cases, if one of your projects is behind schedule, it can cause future delays and impact the completion of another task. To avoid that, you can crash one project to ensure the completion of multiple others within the set time limits.

4. Time Bonuses

While some companies may impose penalties for a project delay, others may reward completion before the set date. If that is the case, you should calculate the cost of expediting and determine whether spending extra is financially beneficial to you in the long run.

5. Extra Manpower

Companies often onboard new members or train them for a specific position. Sometimes, you may use new hires and assign them on a project until they complete their training and crash the project with an additional workforce.

Project Crashing Steps

Once you have a general idea of what crashing in project management is and how it works, you can easily determine whether you need to use it. To help you get started, we have highlighted five steps you should take each time you’re crashing a project.

1. Re-Check the Critical Path

Whether you’re using a project management app or planning the old-fashioned way, you should always use the critical path method. This technique highlights the tasks and various factors that impact the outcome and the duration of the project.

When it comes to crash point project management, you should retrace your steps and take a look at the critical path to determine which task can be shortened by investing additional resources.

An important thing to know is that not every task can be expedited. Additionally, you might find yourself working with a limited budget. If you don’t have enough resources to invest in every task, you should determine which will most impact the overall project timeline.

2. Evaluate the Pros and Cons of Every Step

If you add additional resources to your project, you should always calculate whether the time you gain is worth the cost. Evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of each step is one of the most important crashing activities in project management.

It’s easier to estimate finances than it is with extra manpower. For example, if you include additional members to your team, you have to consider how knowledgeable they are about the project. The time you need to train them will impact how quickly the project is ready.

3. Pick the Most Cost-Effective Option

You can save a lot of the company’s resources by evaluating which is the most cost-effective option to speed up a project.

Even if you have many additional resources available, you can significantly increase your work efficiency by determining the minimum resources each specific task requires to be finished within the set time limits.

You may have to choose between project crashing or fast-tracking in some cases. The latter allows you to simultaneously complete two or more tasks that you originally planned to do separately.

However, fast-tracking isn’t always an available option, as you have to finish a certain task before you move on to the next one. Nonetheless, it’s generally less expensive than project crashing, so you might decide to use it whenever you can.

4. Update Project Timeline

Once you finish planning the project management crash, you should update the timeline with the new completion date. You should also state the new project cost and present the changes to either your client or employer.

In most cases, whoever is in charge will have to revisit the updates and approve the new budget. However, if you’re the one financing the project, you can skip to the next step.

5. Executing the Project

Once your plan for crashing the project and the new budget are approved, the only thing left to do is to execute it. To do that, allocate the additional resources according to the plan. If you have estimated everything carefully, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Project Crashing Example

To give you an even better understanding of how project crashing works, we’ve prepared an example.

You’re a project manager working for a construction company, and your latest task is to build a new facility. Despite all the planning, bad weather has caused delays, and it’s taking significantly longer for the concrete to dry before you can continue the construction.

Now your team has much less time to complete the work before a group of roofers comes along to finish the construction. What’s more, the roofers are only available for a short period before they have to move on to their next project, so extending your timeframe isn’t an option.

Therefore, you have two choices. You can wait until the next team of roofers becomes available, but that can cause more delays down the line and the client’s dissatisfaction. Alternatively, you can crash the project by adding more resources to specific tasks and continue as you have planned initially.


So, if you ever wondered what is crashing in project management, now you should have a pretty good idea. If you determine you need to apply the technique to one of your projects, make sure to follow the steps we’ve outlined above to avoid any further complications.

As you can see, crashing a project can be significantly beneficial. Even though it increases the overall cost, it’s often crucial for finishing the project in a given timeframe. Moreover, delays due to unforeseeable circumstances can make it the only option to avoid further problems.