Earned value and the critical chain project management (CCPM) method

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Posted by APM on 8th Nov 2013

Would you like to complete ALL your projects in half the time, all the time? Dont believe me? Thats not surprising if you havent heard about the critical chain project management (CCPM) method.

Classical project management schedules often have thousands of tasks. Managing these can be a nightmare. Can you keep the schedule up to date? Is some of the information out of date just as soon as it has been baselined?

CCPM lets you define and effectively manage the most complicated projects using a schedule with fewer tasks than traditional waterfall planning methods. More tasks, logic links and greater degrees of detail give an illusion of control. Excessive detail reduces Managements ability to monitor and make decisions quickly. Would you like a method that makes project scheduling as simple as possible? Would you like to regain control of your schedule? Would you like to remove the issue of people multi-tasking on your projects?

CCPM does not change the scope of work or the projects logic. It changes when resources work on tasks. It removes resource bottlenecks. It also exposes and removes the crippling cost of project multi-tasking. Task-level contingencies are replaced with an overall project buffer. People can deliver projects faster with less stress. Would that be a benefit to you?

But how does CCPM measure physical task progress? Enter Earned Value. A way of measuring how much youve done. It integrates cost, schedule, scope and risk. CCPM uses a fever chart. EV has its classical 3-line graph. Integrating the two provides you with a skill akin to that possessed by the Oracle herself.

Earned Value can predict when a project will complete in terms of time and cost. Its based on the projects current status and performance. Earned Value can tell you if you are ahead or behind. It can also tell you how much time and money you need to complete your project.

EV has its performance measurement baseline (PMB). Progress is measured against it. But how does the PMB deal with uncertainty? CCPM has a project buffer. It helps you deal with uncertainties in your project. What if you could integrate these two? What if the Project Manager could predict WHEN the buffer would run out? Do you need more? If so, how much? Combining CCPM and Earned Value gives the Project Manager that ability. The APMs Planning, Monitoring and Control Specific Interest Group (PMC SIG) is working on integrating Earned Value with CCPM projects and push back the frontiers of project control knowledge yet again.

The outcome? Projects being delivered within time and budget. Greater integrity for our project managers. More robust governance. Such skills could keep you in a job. And youre only as good as your last job. Interested in contributing? We need volunteers to provide sanitised project data to prove the method works. If you would like to help, please contact the APM PMC SIG at pmcsig@apm.org.uk for more information.

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