Project Crashing & Ethics

Project management was something I learned fairly recently. In particular, I found the concept of crashing to be intriguing. Unfortunately, I have not had any internships where I was actually exposed to a physical project such as building a house. However, I have had three accounting internships where I have done various accounting projects.

Initially, I thought accounting processes could generally not be crashed. This is because it is the accountants that are completing the process and as such are limited by the number of hours a person can feasibly work. After all, people need to sleep (of course, some of the larger accounting firms seem to disregard this fact).

I then realized this is actually done all the time in accounting firms, I just never had an official name for it. When a project turns out to be too massive, such as completing an important audit in a tight deadline, an outside consultant is hired to shoulder the extra load. This was actually what happened at one of the companies I interned at. I was an internal auditor and near the end of my term, it turned out there was simply too much work to be done. We could not keep up with our schedule due to unforeseen circumstances arising (our CFO had us work on ad-hoc project he wanted very badly). As a result, my director hired an outside consultant. I didn’t realize until now that my director was technically crashing the project. By spending the money to hire this contractor on a short-term basis, my company was able to complete and file all regulatory SOX testing by the appropriate deadline. I thought this was an excellent and well used moment of project crashing as I had felt extremely overloaded at the time.

As I thought further, especially in a field such as audit, project crashing can sometimes be more than just about meeting deadlines and choosing the most cost efficient crash. In the anecdote of my time as an internal auditor, my director could have easily asked me to stay and work the extra hours at hardly any additional cost. However, because he knew that I was only an intern and that the high pressure and volume might lower the quality of audit, he purposely crashed with the much more costly option. Perhaps it’s due to the field I work in, but I’ve often found impending deadlines and ethics to be close together, hand in hand. As a result, I feel that project crashing can often be a very ethical process.

To the class: Where there ever any instances where you were ethically bound to crash or not crash a project?

One thought on “Project Crashing & Ethics

  1. I too was not familiar at the term crashing before this term, but have experienced instances of ethical choices in making crashing decisions. I purchased a home in the South suburbs a few years ago which needed renovation work. After several quotes, and a lot of research, I hired a general contractor to complete the work within an agreed upon time-frame. When the contractor was falling behind I realized he wasn’t going to make the deadline so I hired another sub-contractor to supplement some of his crew’s work. The original hired contractor wasn’t happy about missing out on some potential profit of lost work, but I had an obligation to the incoming home’s tenant to meet the deadline. In this instance I don’t think I acted unethically by taking away some of the work I promised to the contractor simply because he had the opportunity to complete it, but failed. In hindsight, maybe he should have sacrificed a little bit of his profit to crash the project in order to meet the deadline.

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