Critical Chain Project Management - Module 3

How to execute a project with CCPM


In this third episode of a 4-video series about Critical Chain Project Management, Philip Marris explains how to execute projects with CCPM :

- How to set priorities,

- Visual management and the Fever Chart,

- Project portfolio management

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Execution with Critical Chain

After our Critical Chain Planning video, here's how to execute projects under Critical Chain. It is in this video that you will be able to understand the extraordinary results obtained by the Critical Chain.

Planning allowed us to determine the Critical Chain of the project: the sequence of task that determines the duration of the project. For the project to proceed as quickly as possible, it must be ensured that this sequence of tasks is going as smoothly as possible. When executing the project we advocate the principle of the relay race: the actors of the tasks on the Critical Chain "pass the relay" between the tasks before winning the race as fast as possible. For this we use a mascot, a visually identifiable and surprising object, that moves from one office to another to symbolize that the resource is working on a Critical Chain activity. Other people are asked not to disturb this resource. Another possibility is the creation of a Critical Chain room, that is to say a room in which the person on the Critical Chain can isolate themselves to work avoiding meetings and calls for example.

One of the most important points when updating a plan is to estimate what remains to be done. If the progress of the project went exactly as planned and the rest to be done is what is  planned then there is no consumption of the project buffer.

On the other hand, if some tasks of the project are delayed or what remains to be done is re-estimated longer than initially planned, and that these tasks are on the Critical Chain, then the project buffer will be consumed. If a critical task is two days late, the project buffer will be consumed by two days. The end date of the project does not change. If the tasks that have been delayed are not on the Critical Chain then it is the auxiliary buffers that have been consumed by this delay. If the auxiliary buffer is completely consumed, this chain of tasks could become critical and have an impact on the project buffer.

We must therefore ask all the people working on the project to tell us what they have done but also what remains to be done. For example, on a task with an initial (and focused) duration of 5 days, the resource has already completed 4 days, which she indicates, but she considers that she still has 3 days of work to complete the task, the rest to be done is not 1 days but 3 days, 2 days will impact the project buffer or auxiliary buffer assigned to the task. The duration of completion of the task will finally be 7 days instead of the 5 initially planned. People are no longer asked to meet end-date commitments for each task but to be as effective as possible in accomplishing the task while constantly estimating the rest-to-do of their activities.

Updating the plan in this way allows the project managers to better manage the project, especially thanks to the "Fever Chart" indicator. This indicator measures two key measures: the percentage of progress of the Critical Chain of the project and the percentage of consumption of the project buffer. The indicator followed with the Fever Chart is obtained by making the ratio of these two indicators, this allows us to obtain a trend on the speed of consumption of the buffer. The graphical representation is easier to understand since the indicator is divided into three zones:

  • Green: The consumption of the buffer is not worrying, we continue like that.
  • Yellow: Warning zone. Be careful you have to prepare an action plan, the consumption of the buffer starts to be too strong
  • Red: The buffer is consumed too quickly, we may end up late, we must implement actions to regain buffer and return to the yellow or green zone.

To get this indicator the plans have to be updated regularly, ideally every week. By following the projects in this way and acting proactively on a possible delay, the project is finished on time and even ahead, which means that we have not consumed 100% of the project buffer, and that's the objective of Critical Chain.

The same "Fever Chart" indicator exists for managing a project portfolio. All projects in the same portfolio are represented at a specific time on this chart. At the end of the implementation of the Critical Chain, at least ¾ of the projects must be located in the green zone, so they don't require any managerial intervention, they go well and will finish in advance. The management only has to worry about the remaining quarter, projects that drift, located in yellow or red. He must intervene to help a limited number of projects. Arbitration between two projects becomes dynamic and easy thanks to this very visual indicator. If it is necessary to decide on the assignment of a resource that is assigned to both a critical task of a project in the red and a critical task of a project in the green, the choice of the priority becomes obvious. This makes it possible to greatly reduce the multitasking of certain critical resources, in particular by not changing the priorities of these resources with each new call. The positive impact on performance and quality is huge.

To understand the full power of the Critical Chain you had to explain the problems of classic project management, but also the planning and execution of Chain Critical projects, which allows you to understand the results that can be obtained with this approach. . Which also explains the name of our training "Dare to finish all your projects on time! ".

Marris Consulting, expert in Theory of Constraints & Critical Chain Project Management


Marris Consulting is an expert in the Theory of Constraints (ToC) and Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM). As industry consultants, we are focused on helping process and manufacturing industries reach their highest levels of performance by using Constraints Management  combined with Lean and Six Sigma. We also use Critical Chain Project Management which we sometimes combine with Lean engineering to improve project performance. If you are unsure about the actions which need to be implemented to improve operational efficiency, our industrial management consultants can also conduct a performance audit. Furthermore, our experts host numerous Theory of Constraints (ToC), lean and project management training sessions throughout the year.

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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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