Critical Chain Method in Project Management

Critical chain is another schedule network analysis technique that modifies the project schedule to account for limited resources. Critical chain combines deterministic and probabilistic approaches.

The critical chain method was developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt in the mid-1990s to address the inherent problems with traditional project management practices, which are often focused on short term results and meeting deadlines. Critical chain is another schedule network analysis technique that modifies the project schedule to account for limited resources (the critical path).

Initially, the project schedule network diagram is built using non-conservative estimates for activity durations within the schedule model, with required dependencies and defined constraints as inputs. The critical path is then calculated. After the critical path is known, resource availability is entered, and the resource-limited schedule result is determined. The resulting schedule often has an altered critical path.

The critical chain method adds duration buffers that are non-work schedule activities to maintain focus on the planned activity durations. Once the buffer schedule activities are determined, the planned activities are scheduled to their latest possible planned start and finish dates.

Consequently, instead of managing the total float of network paths, the critical chain method focuses on managing the buffer activity durations and the resources applied to planned schedule activities.

Consequently, instead of managing the total float of network paths, the critical chain method focuses on managing the buffer activity durations and the resources applied to planned schedule activities. A study by researchers at George Washington University found that telecommunication companies who successfully implemented the critical chain method realized 18% greater productivity with 22% less overtime hours worked; they also cut inventory costs by 25%.

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