Critical Chain Project Management - An introduction

Project management is full of good ideas and solid management methodologies that can be used to effectively manage projects from start to end. The project management style and process that works best will typically vary based on the focus of the situation and the skills of the individual running the project. Critical Chain Project Management ( CCPM ) is a mighty project management principle derived from the Theory of Constraints used to focus on getting your projects done in time and speed up the velocity by far.

What is CCPM?
CCPM is a management methodology in the vein of Critical Path Management, and is derived from the algorithms present in the Theory of Constraints. CCPM differs from other management techniques in that it attempts to focus on facilitating the preceding resources and terminal elements that are associated with a project. The belief is that the proactive management of these resources at the front end of the project will aid in minimizing the potential for exceeding both budgetary and financial constraints. Given the guiding principles stated in the Theory of Constraints we know that there are limiting factors associated with tasks and projects. The manager implementing a CCPM style will give consideration to those limiting factors and apply their knowledge of the Theory of Constraints to mitigate the potential impact of those known outer boundaries.

How does CCPM seek to mitigate risk?CCPM uses a multi-stepped process to provide assurance that delivery schedules and project budgets are not blown out of the water while pressing onward toward completion and focus on minimizing the impact of limits described in the Theory of Constraints.
  1. By analyzing resource dependencies the manager is able to understand the potential cause and effect relationship of their supply chain. This allows them to anticipate the impact of potential resource delays.
  2. Sometimes good enough is ok. The manager implementing this strategy does not spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the perfect solution, 80% is good enough (Pareto principle). This allows for an offset of the limiting factors defined by using the Theory of Constraints.
  3. The manager identifies where they can plan the insertion of buffers into the multiple processes to ensure there is plenty of time built into the schedule to absorb any delays.
  4. Management evaluates the progress of the project by looking at the rate that the buffers are being consumed; the less buffer time that is used, the healthier the project is.

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