What is Critical Chain Project Management, and what are best practices, tools and online templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Critical Chain Project Management
Critical Chain Project Management is a project scheduling method that factors in any limitations in resources, individual tasks that are dependent on the completion of others and additional hindrances to project completion. Using this method, the project manager should be able to focus the majority of their energy into the resources in the critical chain. This is the longest chain in the network diagram (i.e., the visual depiction of the individual tasks needed to complete the project), which is comprised of the resource-dependent tasks that could prevent a project from being completed in less time.
Description of Critical Chain Project Management
Critical Chain Project Management has three stages:
- Stage 1: Planning. Starting with an end-date, work backwards to identify the smaller tasks needed to complete the project. Additionally, consider the length of time needed to complete these tasks. Finally, identify which and the quantity of resources needed to complete each task. With this information, reconsider the amount of time needed to finish the sub-tasks, making sure to balance the supply of resources with the demand at each step. The critical chain will be the longest path of tasks that have a balance of resource supply and demand.
- Stage 2: Execution. After locking in the length of time for project completion (leaving a buffer of time at the end for any surprise impediments), distribute the resources needed to complete each step in the process. For example, assign each person to their team, hand out all of the necessary equipment, or assign each group a physical space to complete their portion of the project. This will help to ensure that each stage of the plan can be completed as fast as possible.
- Stage 3: Monitoring. Given that unforeseen circumstances can alter the time needed to complete each task, the estimates that were created during the planning stage might not be perfectly accurate. Therefore, it is important to observe any buffers to task completion. If the buffers in each stage do not seem to pose a large overall threat to the identified end date, the project will still be on track to get done on time. If it seems as though these individual task impediments will eat away at the buffer of time left for project completion, develop a plan to recover that lost time.
Tools & Templates
The network diagram that will be used to identify the critical path can be hand-created on paper, or developed on the computer using Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel or other software programs that enable the creation of any graphic representations or flow-charts.
upBOARD's Online Critical Chain Project Management Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Critical Chain Project Management techniques, upBOARD’s online Critical Chain Project Management tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s portfolio of other project management best practice tools and templates including:
Action Item List, Agile Project Management, Benefits Realization Methodology, Critical Chain Project Management, Critical Path Chart, Critical Path Method, Event Chain Methodology, Extreme Project Management, Gantt Chart, Integrated Project Management, Issue Tracker, IT Roadmap, Lean Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, Plan of Intent (PoI), Plan of Record (PoR), PMBOK Project Management, PRINCE2 Project Management, PRiSM Project Management, Process-Based Project Management, Program Management, Project Budgeting, Project Charter, Project Dashboard, Project Portfolio Management (PPM), Project Portfolio Timeline, Project Risk Management, Project Rollup, Project Schedule, Project Scorecard, Project Timeline, Project Tracker, Requirements Breakdown Structure, SCRUM Project Management, Skills Requirement Checklist, Task List, Time Card, To Do List, Waterfall Project Management, and Work Breakdown Structure.