Critical chain: A new project management paradigm or old wine in new bottles?

Thomas G. Lechler, Boaz Ronen, Edward A. Stohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper we analyze the Critical Chain (CC) approach to managing projects. Is CC as some authors assert, one of the most important breakthrough for project management since the introduction of the Critical Path concept (CP) or does CC merely consist of known concepts presented in a different way? Our discourse compares systematically CC and CPM on three conceptual levels to reveal the differences between the two approaches. We conclude that the philosophy behind the CP and CC approaches is remarkably different resulting in a different mindset for managers and a different set of management practices. The main difference is the application of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) in the CC case. As a result, CC focuses at improving the systems performance by laying out specific policies many of which are focused on resource management especially in multiproject environments that are not explicitly addressed by CP. We conclude that while the application of CC is complex, many of its ideas can be easily adapted by practicing managers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalEMJ - Engineering Management Journal
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005

Keywords

  • Buffer management
  • Critical chain
  • Critical path method
  • Theory of constraints

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