How to implement Critical Chain Project Management?

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Critical Chain Project Management is a project management method that requires following a precise sequence of steps to be effective. Discover the 6 necessary steps to implement CCPM with Marris Consulting.


What is Critical Chain Project Management?

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) focuses on identifying the steps, timelines, and resources required to complete a project, to then be able to create a roadmap to follow to ensure that the project will finish on time. The precise execution of this roadmap is decisive and responsible for project delay, its success, or failure.


What are the different buffer types in Critical Chain Project Management?

To ensure that resources are available when required and to complete tasks on time, Critical Chain Project Management uses buffers in the project timeline. The concept of buffers in CCPM refers to strategic safeguards that are inserted in the critical chain to make sure that the project runs smoothly and that no unforeseen event disrupts the project completion date.

Three types of buffers exist in the Critical Chain Project Management method:


Project buffers

Project buffers are inserted between the last task and the project completion date: any delay along the critical chain will therefore eat into this buffer so that the project completion date does not change.

Feeding buffers

Feeding buffers are placed between the last task of the non-critical chain, i.e. the feeding chain, and the critical chain to make sure that any delay on the non-critical chain does not impact the Critical Chain.

Resources buffers

Resource buffers are set before the beginning of the critical chain to ensure that the required resources (people, equipment…) are available when needed. These resources are referred to as critical resources. This buffer is only used when managing a portfolio of projects.

6 Steps to implement Critical Chain Project Management

The Critical Chain Project Management implementation method can be broken down into 6 steps.


1. Identify the critical path

The first step in the CCPM implementation methodology consists of identifying the most important tasks, as well as the tasks that will take the longest to complete. This set of tasks will then become your critical path.

In addition to determining the critical chain tasks, you must also identify the tasks that will lie on the non-critical chain, i.e. the feeding chain: any delay on these tasks could have an impact on the project delivery.


2. Identify resource constraints to create the Critical Chain

Critical Chain Project Management focuses on the resources needed to complete a project. Thus, once you have listed the tasks, you must start allocating resources and considering any constraints you might experience as you assign these resources (employees, equipment, workstations…) to tasks.

To create your critical chain, you will also need to identify the tasks that, if delayed, will postpone the end date of the project. By determining resource constraints early in the process, you avoid any interruptions or delays.


3. Use the Just-in-Time scheduling method

Use a CCPM scheduling software to create a schedule that works backwards from the completion date through each task, each starting at the latest possible date. This practice ensures you give sufficient time to complete each task, eliminating rushed task execution and preventing multitasking.


4. Insert buffers

Inserting buffers is one of the most crucial steps in the Critical Chain methodology. Buffers should be placed at the end of the Critical Chain and at the end of each the feeding chain, you also need to determine for how long each buffer will go. A general rule of thumb is, the bigger the risk or uncertainty a task entails, the bigger the buffer should be.


5. Eliminate multitasking by focusing the team on the Critical Chain

When employees switch between tasks, productivity is lower and task durations are increased. Multitasking prevents team members from directing their best efforts to one task with utmost focus leading to low team focus and productivity.

The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) method keeps employees focused on fewer items at a time, in priority on the Critical Chain tasks, allowing teams to complete projects faster.


6. Oversee and evaluate the project

Setting up the workflow is not enough to successfully complete a project: it is imperative to keep a close eye on how the tasks are moving forward. A Critical Chain Project Management software can therefore be useful to monitor the project. Evaluating the key project metrics also makes it easier to track team performance and get a better view of the overall project status in real-time. The common KPI used to monitor the project is the Fever Chart.



Implementing CCPM with Marris Consulting

Marris Consulting is an expert company in Critical Chain Project Management consulting and training. For more information about our CCPM training and consulting services, please do not hesitate to contact our teams.


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About Marris Consulting

Marris Consulting is an industry consulting and training company specialized in the Theory of Constraints (ToC) and Critical Chain Project Management. We focus on improving the performance of manufacturing and process industries by using Constraints Management combined with Lean and Six Sigma. To boost project performance, we also use Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), which we sometimes combine with Lean Engineering. Our 2-day performance audits, our performance consulting services and our project management, Lean, ToC & CCPM training by our industry consultants offer a wide range of solutions to help our clients around the world reach the highest possible levels of performance.

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