Critical-Chain Project Management

Everybody knows that if a project is planned properly, the work is half done. To prevent possible disasters, managers often add extra time to the project schedule. In theory, it allows the participants of the project to feel comfortable and gives employees additional time in case if something goes wrong. However, these theoretical reflections rarely coincide with the practical situation. In reality, many projects take much more time than planned even considering these additional time resources, and, thus, a project arrives behind schedule.

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Gray and Larson (2014) address this problem as one of the diseases that plague the time estimating process. To explain the nature of the problem, they employ Critical-Chain Project Management (CCPM). CCPM was developed by Dr. E. Goldratt (1997) in the late 90-s as a methodology of planning, fulfilling, and operating projects, as well as overcoming the problem of poor performance, in order to improve all the processes associated with project fulfilling.

Gray and Larson mention several explanations within the CCPM approach that can help understand why the projects arrive behind schedule. According to Parkison’s law, extra time added to the schedule makes workers relax and feel that there is no need to hurry. The self-protection theory states that workers afraid to report earlier finishes out of fear that the next time the manager would establish a shorter deadline. The “dropped baton” metaphor illustrates the following tendency: one worker or group does their part of the project earlier, and another worker or group is not ready to do the next stage yet. The so-called excessive multitasking means that one and the same employee has to work on several projects simultaneously, which leads to problems with deadlines. Resource bottleneck refers to the shortage of resources necessary for fulfilling the task. Finally, procrastination makes employees delay the start of the work (Gray & Larson, 2014).

All the mentioned explanations sound surprisingly familiar to me and are relevant to my own working experience. While I do agree with these explanations, as I have witnessed how the reasons specified by Gray and Larson lead to a failure to meet a deadline, I am convinced that this is not really a result of poor time management or project scheduling, and these problems have little to do with time. Self-protection is a result of the lack of collaboration between a manager and an employee. Often, managers assign equal time for easy and difficult tasks, and it is natural for an employee to pretend like they need more time for an easy task in order to protect themselves from future failures with harder tasks.

“Dropped baton” and multitasking are clearly caused by mismanagement, as well as excessive multitasking and resource bottleneck. Procrastination, to my belief, is an outcome of the poor motivation and the low level of job satisfaction of an employee, which needs to be addressed by managers and those responsible for human resources management. In general, projects would not arrive out of schedule if the collaboration between managers and employees is maintained on a high level, and the deadlines for tasks are established as a result of an agreement between a worker and a manager.

In conclusion, project coming behind schedule is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Gray and Larson mention several explanations forged within the CCPM approach. While I do agree with these explanations, I am sure that such problems are results of the lack of collaboration between managers and workers rather than poor time management.


Goldratt, E.M. (1997). Critical Chain. Barrington, Massachusetts: North River Press. Web.

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Gray, E.W., & Larson, C.F. (2014). Project management: The managerial process (6th ed.). New York City, New York: McGraw-Hill. Web.

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