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I don’t think anyone cares about critical chain management. If you’re anything like me, critical chain project management (CCPM), is something you don’t care about unless you’re studying to take the PMP exam, which is probably why this article is being written. After passing the exam, you can quickly forget about CCPM because you won’t use it for project planning IRL.
People who think project managers won’t use the critical chain method to control their projects are wrong. This is how I felt until I realized that I had used some form of the critical chains method in my career as a project manager. This guide will help you understand the critical chain method in a real-world scenario.
What is the Critical Chain Method?
How to Use the Critical Chain Method for Project Control
What are buffers in the Critical Chain Method?
Example of Critical Chain Method
What is the Critical Chain Method?
Eliyahu M.Goldratt developed the critical chain method as part of his Theory of Constraints. It is a method for managing project timelines that takes into account resource constraints. This means whether the people you have assigned to the project are available to do the work. It sounds simple, right?
CCPM is a schedule network technique in the Project Management Body of Knowledge. You can use the critical chain method to create a project schedule.
Define the project activities. What is the work required to complete the project’s objectives?
Calculate the task duration. What is the time it takes to complete each task?
Calculate buffer. Consider the person who will be executing the work and the time they are available to the project to calculate the contingencies.
This type of scheduling exercise is common for project managers. This traditional project management technique was called critical chain.
Critical Path Method vs. Critical Chain Method
The critical chain method might have brought back memories of another project management process that is being tested by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the critical path method.
You’ve likely been in meetings where someone asks the project manager which tasks are on the critical pathway. But I doubt anyone outside of a PMP Bootcamp has ever used the phrase “critical chains”.
What’s the difference?
The critical path method calculates the project duration, which is the time it takes to complete the tasks identified in the project plan.
The critical chain method takes into account resource availability.
Below is a table that summarizes the key differences between the critical path and critical chain methods.
Calculates the time it takes for project activities to be completedxx. The Critical Path MethodCritical chain MethodCalculates resource availabilityxBuffers are part of the activity duration estimates. The Critical Chain Method has many benefits
The critical chain method has many advantages over the critical path method. These benefits include:
The critical chain methodology allocates 100% of resources to the project. This ensures that if a task is completed early, you can move on to the next task without experiencing bottlenecks.
This means that the project manager is responsible for managing the buffer and not the team members to complete their activities within the timeframe. This means that if work is not on schedule, members of the team do not have to rush.