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Critical Chain Scheduling

"Critical Chain," in the largest sense, is the set of processes and practices for project management developed by the application of the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes to the difficulties faced in delivering projects with both speed and reliability.

The critical chain of a project is the set of dependent tasks that define the expected lower limit of a project's possible lead time. Dependencies used to determine the critical chain include both logical hand-off dependencies (where the output of the predecessor task is required to start the successor), and resource dependencies (where a task has to wait for a resource to finish work on another task). The identification of the critical chain uses a network of tasks with "aggressive but achievable" estimates, that is first "resource levelled" against a finite set of resources. In traditional project management language, the structure of a critical chain is similar to that of a "resource constrained critical path."

Underlying the key differentiating aspects of Critical Chain-based project management are an appreciation for the impact of variation (the statistical nature of projects) and of human behaviour (people's response to how their projects are managed) on the ability of a project to move with speed and reliability. While there are established PM approaches to the consideration of variation, like PERT and Monte Carlo simulations, the application of the outcomes of these techniques (when not simply ignored) are too often applied in ways that perpetuate Parkinson's Law in most projects.

Critical Chain Scheduling
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