Critical Chain Project Management - an abductive view.
Mabin, V.J.; Mirzaei, Maryam
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Citation:Mabin, V., & Mirzaei, M. (2016, September). Critical Chain Project Management - an abductive view. Paper presented at OR58 Annual Conference, Portsmouth, UK.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3862
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) has been a controversial topic with extreme opinions on its merits. While there are many reports of dramatic improvements in many project contexts, there have also been claims that it does not apply to all projects. This paper sets out to articulate where and why CCPM is applicable by carefully examining its assumptions and reconstructing its underpinning model of reality. Such examination required an in-depth analysis of both the theoretical assumptions of CCPM and the empirical reality of projects. This research used an abductive process adopting an iterative learning loop between theory and practice. Theoretical data was drawn from analysis of a comprehensive database comprising 600 scholarly publications on CCPM. Empirical data was obtained from a total of 10 projects from a diverse range of industries using semi-structured interviews and project documents. CCPM literature describes a project’s goal as predefined output with fixed value. Not all projects conformed to this characteristic and some projects were found to be constrained by various aspects of scope formulation. The CCPM solution also requires agreed priorities for the project and elimination of deterministic start dates. These imply unity of purpose and a global definition of efficiency. CCPM portrays project work as a baton passing sequentially between project actors. While this was observable in some projects, in others a dedicated team shared carrying the baton throughout the project. When a project is executed by a non-dedicated team, the constraint is the longest chain of dependent activities. However, in a dedicated team, the system ‘is’ the team and therefore its weakest link is the most constrained resource. CCPM literature also implies a high level of urgency which was not observed in all case projects. These characteristics can guide practitioners both in choosing and/or tailoring CCPM for their particular projects.