There is never enough time when it comes to project management. By making schedules, we try to control the outcome of the project. However, even when managers are successful, things can go astray.
While changes are welcomed and often necessary, the project manager's job is to ensure those changes don't affect a project schedule. This is why triple constraints such as budget, time, and scope are necessary. When one fails to perform or falls behind, the other two must compensate.
There are many ways to make up for the lost time, like including a commonly known method of project management, crashing. Keep reading to find out what this term stands for.
Project crashing - definition and causes
Project crashing refers to a practice used to compress the schedule. In most cases, project crashing is applied to situations when a manager wants to lessen the project's time frame without changing the scope.
Remember that crashing a project will affect two out of three triple constants, like cost and schedule. You might increase your project budget by accelerating delivery time, but this will not affect your project scope.
Project Manager Roles and Responsibilities Cheat Sheet
Luckily, when sponsors or stakeholders want you to crash a project, they aren't overly concerned about money, which gives you more freedom to manipulate time and budget. They could be in a hurry to finish the project as soon as possible, or their budget is unrestricted.
Inevitably, crashing will boost project costs, and it's your responsibility to locate crash-critical path tasks that can potentially compress your project schedule. Don't try to apply project crashing if you can't add additional resources to critical path tasks.
Common reasons for project crashing
We will start from the most obvious reason: to speed up the project's conclusion. For instance, if you need to predict the end date, crushing allows you to get the most compression of the planning, with minimal impact and cost.
When it comes to a project, changes are bound to happen, causing delays. However, if you deal with fixed completion projects, these changes might be an issue. In this case, you have two possible outcomes: to tell the sponsors that you can't complete a project on time and that the end date has to be changed, or you could try to recover time via project crashing. This decision will mostly depend on the relationship you have with your clients.
You can also use project crashing when trying to make up for the lost time due to inevitable delays. Another reason to use project crashing is when your team is involved in other activities. In that case, you might release some resources.
The main goal of crashing a project activity
The main goal of crashing a project activity is shortening a project while keeping costs at a minimum. It's about reducing the schedule as much as possible for the least amount of money. This can be accomplished by addressing the current resources' productivity challenges and developing ways to improve their efficiency.
Crashing is accomplished by adding more resources to the project, which helps you to complete tasks in less time. Of course, this increases the project's overall cost. As a result, the fundamental goal of project crashing is to reduce project duration while also lowering its expenses.
Disadvantages of crashing a project
Crash time in project management comes with some disadvantages that shouldn't be overlooked. Firstly, it can jeopardize the relationship between team members and the project manager. If you want to apply this method, you need a high level of flexibility among all the involved parties of a project.
Additionally, if you hire additional employees, they might lack experience or knowledge, causing productivity to decrease. On the other hand, original team members will have to spend time onboarding new ones.
Team members might not support the crashing if they believe productivity is being challenged. Keep in mind that the use of additional resources won't always offer you the results you desire. Last but not least, crashing increases the costs of a project!
Steps to crashing a project
Determine the Critical Path. Three constraints govern each project: scope, cost, and schedule. The project manager begins the project management crash phase by assessing its size and identifying the components or tasks required to finish it. The manager selects which jobs should be cut to reduce delivery time after the scope management evaluation. They then use the critical path method to plot a new path (CPM).
Determine which tasks to leave out. The project manager meets with the team to determine which activities can be cut out without affecting the project's success. Although the team may not be able to shorten any assignments, they may be able to save the stakeholders' money on resource expenses if they discover any viable shortening choices.
Calculate the opportunity cost. The project manager should calculate the amount of time saved by using the above tactics and compare it to the negative implications of the project running late. The project manager must now assess if it is worthwhile to increase the project's resources.
Identify crash limits. Each activity should have a crash limit. This is the point at which an activity can't crash anymore. Understanding this information will give you an idea of how further you can proceed with the crashing.
Select the low-cost option. Once you know how much you can crash each activity and how much it costs, it's easy to figure out how many activities to target and how much they need to be crashed to reach the goal at the lowest possible cost.
Set up a budget. You must finance your plan, just like with any other project. The next stage in carrying out your project crashing strategy is to create a project crashing budget. To align with your new project, you'll need to alter your baseline, timetable, and resources.
Obtain client approval. Once you've determined the most acceptable or viable crashing strategy, you'll need to persuade the project's key stakeholders to approve its implementation.
When to stop crashing a project?
Sometimes you should stop crashing in project management. The key to project crashing is to reduce schedule time as much as possible while keeping costs low. Simply put, you should stop crashing when it is no longer cost-effective. A basic rule of thumb is:
- Compress only crucial activities.
- Crash from the cheapest to the most expensive activity.
- Crash activity until you reach the minimum time reduction.
- Crash activity until it gets more costly to crash than not to crash.