Critical Chain Project Management: Streamlining for Faster Delivery

Studies have shown that 37% of projects suffer schedule overruns of 50% or more, and that’s not counting the nearly 10% percent of projects that are terminated or fail! IT projects typically suffer even worse fates! Companies that are willing to embrace the Critical Chain culture can expect to complete projects 30 to 50% more quickly, with a 90% on-time delivery rate, all through the elimination of multi-tasking, embracing strong work prioritization, and adoption of the approach by all levels of management. Shorter cycle times and faster time to market are compelling reasons to make the shift to a Critical Chain Project Management.

This course looks at some of the most common project management problems and their causes, explains the Theory of Constraints as the premise behind the Critical Chain method, and walks participants through techniques to analyze the bottlenecks in their current scheduling system.  Participants will then explore the application of proven but seldom-used tools and techniques to address those problems. In its final segment, the course delves into the implementation of Critical Chain Project Management and offers participants next steps to implement within their organization.

The course is best suited for more mature organizations that are plagued with consistent schedule overruns resulting in negative impacts to its business operations. It assumes that an organization is culturally ready for a shift in the way projects are being managed, and that attendees have a basic understanding of Critical Path Method (CPM) Scheduling. Although the course is designed to be completed without use of a computer, the last three case studies can be conducted using certain Critical Chain software.

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Key Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify common problems with project schedules
  • Identify weaknesses in Critical Path Method project scheduling
  • Describe the goals of Critical Chain Project Management
  • Identify the system constraint in any project schedule
  • Apply Theory of Constraints as a project management tool
  • Apply Critical Chain Theory to improve project performance
  • Construct a project schedule using the Critical Chain approach
  • Define the constraint in a multiple project environment

Course Outline


  • Define Critical Path Method terminology
  • Identify and apply precedence modifiers
  • Demonstrate how to complete a basic network diagram

Schedules – The Problems

  • Describe common causes of delay in projects
  • Describe common causes of delay in projects using CPM
  • Explain the options for dealing with the common causes of delay when using CPM
  • Discuss the pros and cons of each of the options used for dealing with delay in CPM projects

A Solution – Critical Chain Project Management

  • List reasons to consider using CCPM
  • Contrast CCPM and CPM
  • Paraphrase the Theory of Constraints
  • Explain Common Cause Variation
  • Demonstrate aggregation of contingency time

Critical Chain Scheduling Process

  • Define a “constraint” as used in Critical Chain approach
  • Demonstrate how the Five Focusing Steps are applied in Critical Chain Plan Process
  • Contrast Feeding Buffer, Project Buffer, and Resource Buffer
  • Explain two methods to calculate Project Buffer
  • Demonstrate how to use a Project Buffer Incursion Chart
  • Create a Critical Chain schedule for a project scenario

The Theory of Constraints

  • Define a “constraint” as used in TOC
  • Explain the Five Focusing Steps used in TOC
  • Apply the Five Focusing Steps to at least two constraints in a hypothetical production system scenario
  • List the steps in the TOC Thinking Process
  • Apply the TOC Thinking Process to a hypothetical project scenario

CCPM in Multi-Project Environments

  • Discuss the importance of project prioritization in CCPM
  • Identify the “Drum” in multi-project settings
  • Apply the TOC Thinking Process to determine the organizational goal(s)
  • Create a Critical Chain schedule for a multi-project environment

Implementing CCPM

  • Summarize the most common challenges to adopting CCPM
  • Discuss approaches to the most common challenges to adopting CCPM