Product development projects, like many other types of projects, often can exceed their planned schedule by 50% to 100%.
Often this is attributed to uncertainty or the unforeseen.
To compensate for this age-old dilemma, managers and project personnel have learned to compensate by adding additional time to their schedule estimates. Yet even when they do, projects still overrun their schedules.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is an outgrowth of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) developed by Eliyahu Goldratt to scheduling and managing manufacturing.
TOC focuses on identifying and fixing bottlenecks in order to improve the throughput of the overall system. Likewise, Critical Chain focuses on bottlenecks.
Using the Critical Chain Method, projects can be completed more quickly and with greater scheduling reliability.
The difference between traditional and Critical Chain scheduling is in how uncertainty is managed. In traditional project scheduling, uncertainty is managed by padding task durations, starting work as early as possible, multi-tasking, and focusing on meeting commitment dates.
While Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) delivers all these benefits, CCPM has yet to become the standard in the industry. In some respects, it still seems to qualify as a new technology introduction. In fact, most project manager in the service industry have never heard of it, and an awful lot of training and qualifications make no reference to it. But innovations and new ideas take time to spread.
“Project management change is not needed because we already know how to run projects efficiently.”
Have you ever been relieved that you team embraced a new project management approach only to realize months later that they did not actually execute the new approach?
Project managers who have excellent work track records based on hitting milestones don’t think they need to change. However, simply hitting deadlines hardly tells the full story. Like cruise control, the project will speed up if it running late (by team members working hard to get it back on track, sometimes working weekends and evenings to make it happen), or slow down if the project is early (people relax, maybe shuffling resources to do something more urgent). Projects seek equilibrium around their dates – there is pressure to move things earlier and later. Most project organizations are self-correcting as they try to hit their dates. What actually had to take place to get there is hidden from view, and there is no impetus to finishing projects faster. (The Tyranny of Deadlines, Rob Newbold)
Additionally, too often when you share a new direction with your team, the people in the room will appreciate your logic for change. They may agree with you intellectually. And yet there is a more emotional side of them that has grown comfortable with the old way of doing things. They’ve been practicing routine A for years. They are very good at routine A. Now you’re trying to get them to change to routine B. Even if they agree that B is better than A, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy the next day (Dan Heath).
The urge to resist having to learn this new way of doing things is powerful.