Automation Centre logo

Critical Chain Project Management

Critical chain project management is facilitated by TrackerSuite.Net with its functions for the control and tracking of project workloads and resources.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) differs from other project management methodologies in its focus on resources instead of tasks, and buffers instead of schedules.

This approach mitigates some of the troubles some projects suffer using the standard approach of estimating "safe" durations of work for tasks and tracking project progress by the completion of those tasks in adherence to schedule. Despite the fact that the tasks have been padded to ensure resources have more than enough time to complete them, projects using this method are still occasionally delivered late.

Experience TrackerSuite.Net Today!
Register for immediate access to our demo site, and make a hands-on evaluation today.

Potential reasons include:

  • When a resource does not feel a deadline in imminent, due to padding, there is no urgency to complete the work. The task is put off to a point when the safety margin the padding provided is mitigated. This is sometimes referred to as "Student Syndrome",
  • If the resource completes the task ahead of schedule, there is often the temptation to continue working on it, to improve it, rather than move on to the next task. This phenomena is sometimes cited as an example of Parkinson's Law- "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
  • Multitasking is a common occurrence in a standard project. The lack of focus and priority on individual tasks can lead to late deliveries.

Critical Chain Project Management utilizes a different method for projects, replacing the padding of individual tasks with establishing a safety buffer for the entire project, and encouraging users to focus on a single task through its completion, rather than multitasking.

The close integration of projects, time and resources TrackerSuite.Net provides facilitates the Critical Project Management Chain methodology. Using TrackerSuite.Net, organizations can leverage:


Graphic of a Critical Chain Project schedule compared to a standard project schedule

In a Critical Chain Project, Tasks are leveled at 50% of their "safe" duration, and the difference is accumulated in a buffer applied to the task sequence that runs from the project start to its finish, its "Critical Chain". Tasks which "feed" into the Critical Chain are also given a buffer.

Summary of CCPM

Using Critical Chain Project Management, tasks are constructed and buffers are established in the following manner:

  1. The longest task sequence in the project, that starts and ends with the project, is identified. This is the "critical chain".
  2. A "safe" duration for each task is identified, where it is 90-100% certain (depending on the risk tolerance of the project leaders) that the task can be completed within the given duration.
  3. The duration of all tasks is set to 50% of their estimated "safe" duration, and the difference is accumulated in a buffer which is applied to the critical chain. Task sequences which "feed" into the critical chain are given similar buffers.

As the project progresses, instead of focusing on the schedules of tasks within the project, the consumption of the buffer is monitored. If the rate of buffer consumption is low, then the project is proceeding as expected. If the buffer is being used up at a rate that will be exhausted before the end of the project, then alternatives must be determined.