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'Crash the project' is a term is used frequently in PMP materials. What does it mean exactly?

How is it related to 'compressing the schedule', if at all?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question is trivial; a google search on the term returns five thousand answers, the top dozen of which seem relevant and useful. – Mark C. Wallace Dec 31 '15 at 9:50
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    I think we a little rewording this could be a great question. Crashing is very controversial in its efficacy and there could be a lot of debate and critical thinking around this topic. It has a lot of risk exposure in projects. – David Espina Dec 31 '15 at 12:57
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Crashing is simply the concept of throwing more resources--be it money, tools and machinery, humans, etc--at a work package in an attempt to decrease its overall duration. The general idea is, if you planned 10 days with one person to do a task, then applying a second person will decrease the duration to five days.

The issue is, this does not work that cleanly in real life. There are a ton of environmental and random variables at play that affect performance, as well as the resource elasticity of the task, where crashing may have no effect at all or actually make things worse.

For example, moving boxes from point A to B would have a ton of resource elasticity. Throwing more box movers at the task should certainly decrease the overall duration. However, the site and situation of both point A and point B may decrease the efficacy of crashing as you may clog the path between point A and B with more box movers and then slow things up.

A task with zero resource elasticity is like driving from Point A to B. Throwing another driving in the car will do nothing to get to B faster.

These concepts can easily be applied to more complex projects such as construction and IT.

EDIT: Gestation is a common example of how crashing does not work, but it is also not an accurate example. While we always consider pregnancy as nine months, gestation is probabilistic ranging from as few as 22 or 23 weeks to 46 weeks. So one could crash a pregnancy duration by introducing a prostaglandin to induce labor. A resource is not just human but is any and all resources, including this medicine. Therefore, a pregnancy does have some resource elasticity albeit with a high degree of costs and risks.

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    My favorite example for demonstrating that not all work can have its duration reduced via crashing is building a baby. Just because it takes one mother nine months to build a baby doesn't mean that applying nine mothers to the project will build the baby in one month. More practically there are always external issues to review before simply mathematically crashing schedules. One obstacle that arises very frequently in knowledge-based work is the added delay of training before additional resources can function toward positive progress. – Polymath Dec 31 '15 at 17:25
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    Regarding crashing it's about knowing the possibility in order to be able to decide in a specific situation if it might succeed (or not, e.g. if it was brought in by management). – Tob Jan 1 '16 at 16:41
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    I've seen an attempt to crash a project halt progress for days. New resources didn't know the project, and existing resources spent all there time bringing them up to speed. It may have eventually worked out but there was not enough work pieces to go around. However, it is (was) possible to raise a barn in a day. Lots of prep work and workers who know what they needed to do when. In my experience, rotating tires is far faster with two workers than one. – BillThor Jan 3 '16 at 22:05
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There are 2 strategies for compressing project schedules; crashing and fast tracking.

Crashing refers to adding more resources to critical activities in order to reduce the duration and save time while fast tracking is an attempt to make activities that would have occurred in sequence (one after the other) to occur in parallel (happen at the same time with little or no delay between them).

Although these strategies can be applied to projects, there are several things that should be considered. One key factor is that not all activities can be shortened using these measures and other strategies or a combination of strategies should be put in place to address such situations.

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