My takes from: Critical Chain: A Business Model

Critical Chain:  A Business Model (Kindle edition) by the late Eliyahu Goldratt.

I read this book to deepen my understandiing of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), which is covered in PMBOK Fifth Edition (6.6.2.3). One compelling part for me was the class discussion in Chapter 9, which focuses on the project manager's management of schedule. Start with the critical path (PMBOK: "The sequence of activities that represents the longest path through a project, which determines the shortest possible duration"). In terms of bringing projects to completion on time (and the challenge of doing so in the later stages of a project), consider a path that's parallel to the critical path, but of shorter duration. (That is, a non-critical path.) Each management approach has downsides:

Early start:  Increase complexity for the PM at the early stages of the project
Late start: Puts this parallel path, de facto, on the critical path

Continuing:  "Both early start and late start jeopardize the [PM's] ability to focus."

A later conclusion: "When you add it all up, safety must be the majority of the estimated time for a project." This is fleshed out in Chapter 16 (another professor and student discussion chapter): In contrast to adding buffer to each individual step, a single buffer is added to the project constraint (which is the critical path). Then, a time buffer is also inserted into all paths feeding into the critical path, built by removing buffer from the steps in the feeding path. These two approaches go to the core of PMBOK 6.6.2.3.

Chapter 11 includes a lengthy presentation on the Theory of Constraints (TOC). Goldratt's work with TOC is mentioned in the Wikipedia article.

Chapter 25 content is interesting in terms of the strategy of project selection and the need to look at quantitative measures other than payback period or Net Present Value - specifically, the need to integrate the time and money elements into a single measure.

The use of the Critical Chain Method is dependent upon empowered and highly knowledgeable product managers.

I am much more enthused about Goldratt's work after reading this book - specifically, the last third of the book contained many valuable lessons and points that I need to research.


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