Transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management

Transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management for Long Duration ProjectsWhat to Do Until Buffer Management Kicks InAbstractThe transition from traditional project management to Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) in a multi-project environment presents a formidable problem with projects of long duration. A simple method is presented for that transition and provides the metrics necessary to directly encourage and cement the behaviors needed for Critical Chain Multi-Project Management. This paper assumes the reader is familiar with CCPM.The Multi-Project ImplementationThis paper focuses on the period of time from planning the first Critical Chain (CC) project, the cut-over project, to completion of the last traditionally managed project. This can be a long period of time before the company has fully implemented Critical Chain Project Management. Theory of Constraints (TOC) practitioners involved in Critical Chain Mulit-Project Management (CCMPM), often find this transition to be the toughest part of an implementation.The Implementation ConflictIn order to successfully implement Critical Chain Multi-Project Management, we must obtain support for it. Everyone expects that CCPM will be another flavor-of-the-month implementation that fades away if properly ignored. To obtain that support, we must start with one project to prove that CCPM works. And to be successful, we must change the whole project system to CCMPM. Because Critical Chain requires Buffer Management and traditional projects can’t use it, we must implement CC on all projects at the same time.Implement One Critical Chain Project FirstEven though we know it works, we must prove that it works “here!” A common solution is to use a pilot (trial) project as a way to demonstrate CCPM and get the bugs out of the existing system. One project at a time is much simpler to implement than many. The pilot project should not be thought of as a trial. It’s really the first Critical Chain (CC) project, the cut-over project. Every new project following it will also be a CC project.Typically, for a transition, the cut-over project is planned while the work-in-process is ignored. But in a multi-project management environment, that means that some or many shared resources will be fought over by the CC and non-CC projects. The resources are usually expected to multitask and have several projects in work at one time. Multitasking is a huge factor in projects being slow. How can scarce resources be assigned where they are most needed, if the statuses of these projects are measured differently?The common approach to adding a new project to the pipeline of projects is to commit to a date and put it in the system. With little understanding of the amount of work in the system and the system’s capacity, work is pushed in with the expectation that it will get done.With a system full of work-in-process projects, it will take a long time to complete this first CC project. Continued multitasking between projects will assure it. The reality is that people are asked to not multitask on the CC project while they are multitasking on the others. The non-CC projects will delay the faster, CC project. It will be difficult to determine and measure the Critical Chain project’s success compared to the others. Some people will believe it gets special attention and will demand to share its resources.The more difficult problem is the lack of Critical Chain buffer management. Lacking CC project buffers, traditional projects can’t use buffer management. Priorities among the projects may be determined by perceived urgency as expressed by the project managers. Implementing the first Critical Chain project has not always been easy.Big Bang ApproachThe whole project system can be changed in one massive replan of all projects. It may make a lot of sense since we know we won’t be done until all the projects are CC projects. All projects are measured the same way and they quickly get up to speed. Or do they? How does the whole system get changed? All of the projects must be re-planned and changed to CCPM by shortening the duration of many, many tasks of many projects.In a small system, the big bang approach is a real option. In a large system, it is definitely much more challenging and probably not possible. To change all the projects to be Critical Chain projects requires re-planning while they are in progress. The same people that are working the projects are need to do the replan. It’s likely to be chaotic and it won’t happen overnight. Re-planning will delay the implementation, delay current projects and may jeopardize an initial (or any) success. Just the opposite of what was intended.Delay Until the System is ReadyDo not insert the cut-over project until the resources can focus on it. Prioritize the projects. Since any prioritization is effective in increasing the speed of a system, use the commitment dates as priorities to help determine what to focus attention on. Propose a drum resource and plan the release of the cut-over project to be synchronized with this drum. That sets up the next issue. How do resources (and management) know what to work on next? We need buffer management. We still can’t have it.Unfortunately, it is not possible to start with a clean slate, no projects. We must deal with the work as it is in the system. It looks like we have to wait to use buffer management until after all projects in the system are CC projects. We still have an implementation conflict.A New ApproachCreate a method of comparing a Critical Chain project’s status with a traditionally managed project’s status, while promoting better behaviors.(1) Prioritizing the work allows us to recognize that some work may be low enough priority to be delayed or canceled. Use buffer management on the first CC project, and create a kind of virtual buffer for the other projects. Then use virtual buffer management on all of those projects without re-planning them.(2) Collect status for all projects as “How long until you are done with your task?” If percent complete is provided, accept it and restate it back as, “Does that mean you have 5 days of work remaining and you expect to be finished by next Wednesday?” Also ask, “Is there anything else you are working on?” Be consistent and persistent in asking for work remaining. Don’t argue about it. Accept whatever they give you. Reality will show up eventually.(3) For each main chain of tasks (the Critical Path) and each feeding chain, compare the planned (base) finish with the current expected finish. The status (days ahead or behind) relative to the plan indicates how it is doing. This same calculation is done for Critical Chain’s buffer management and is called buffer incursion (in days).(4) This information is used to manage the existing projects with their current due dates, without adding buffers to them, to create an unbuffered management report. The process is to prepare the existing projects by inserting a milestone at the end of the project, and between each feeding chain and the critical path. The milestone, being the last task in the chain, indicates the planned finish of the chain. As status is added, the expected finish of the current task pushes all successors to the future or pulls them earlier. Do NOT recalculate the critical path unless it makes a significant difference to the flow.(5) Compare the current expected finish date with the base milestone (planned) finish date. This becomes an unbuffered incursion and can be reported and/or plotted for each chain of the project. Unbuffered Management can be used for all the projects, including the Critical Chain project. This provides a way to compare the health of all of the projects and a gives a basis for assigning scarce resources. The Critical Chain project would also have a Critical Chain Fever Chart and Buffer Report.Unbuffered ManagementCreate a chart with % Complete on the X-axis and Days Ahead/Behind on the vertical axis. The chart will have characteristics like a fever chart. Place a zero line horizontally (exactly on schedule), and plot days behind above and days ahead below the line. Like the fever chart, it is a visual indicator that the projects are gaining or losing ground. The chart indicates how each the project is doing and its likelihood of completing on time. It has a virtual buffer. The buffer is really not there, but its usefulness is.Traditionally managed projects typically have significant safety in each task in a futile effort to get every task completed on time. Most project managers either believe they have little or no safety in their projects or they believe that their safety is a minimal requirement to maintaining their schedule. They have substantial experience to prove it. They know that time and Murphy are very fickle. By using unbuffered projects, they keep their original task estimates and project due date. By adjusting behaviors toward Critical Chain requirements, task safety is much less needed and will accumulate at the end of the project. All projects are likely to go faster than they were. Project Managers see real results on their existing projects and look like heroes.ConclusionCritical Chain Buffer Management provides focus for management attention to significantly improve project performance. Since it is extremely difficult to transition from a traditional project management system to CCMPM, a transition methodology providing tools similar to Critical Chain Buffer Management is a significant bridge for that gap. With prioritization and unbuffered management, attention is focused where needed. Then good behaviors and a Road Runner ethic are developed, with the focus on completing as soon as possible, rather than on meeting the due dates. All of the work takes advantage of unbuffered management and the whole system flows faster during the transition.This methodology is only for the transition to Critical Chain Multi-Project Management. It is not to eliminate buffers. It puts all of the projects on a level playing field until the transition is complete.What to do until Buffer Management kicks in? Be doing Unbuffered Management!Copyright Skip Reedy, 2002, 2011Reprint allowed with credit 

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What Precisely Is Internet Marketing?

This article is aimed primarily at anyone thinking of starting a business in internet marketing. Any new venture in any aspect of human life will have its excitements and its challenges. Internet Marketing is no different It is very important to know the key principles before becoming involved or your internet marketing business could be shot down in flames before you even begin.Many people new to internet marketing waste a great deal of time and effort because they simply have not taken the time to research exactly what is involved. Doing business on the internet has a well-rehearsed and well-documented process. This process needs to be fully understood before launching into the unknown. You must look before you leap and really study how to start an online marketing business before you make a commitment of either time or money.The fairly obvious and literal response to that headline question is that it is marketing products or services using the internet rather than traditional business methods. Like any other marketing, selling online involves advertising, promotion and sales. The nature of the business will mean that most newcomers will need to learn new techniques. These techniques may be simply the basics of marketing or they may be more specifically related to the use of the internet. Both the words of the title, internet marketing, have to be understood and applied correctly to achieve success. It is probably true to say that the ‘marketing’ part is the more important as this is what actually generates the income.Internet marketing will involve the marketer in doing lots of research in a way that traditional marketing doesn’t. We must know our marketplace; know our consumers and know how to communicate with them. Because we rarely meet our customers face to face we need to market in a slightly different way. Words are a vital part of our approach. The writing of excellent sales letters and other promotional copy is at the heart of what marketers do because it is through words that we communicate with our potential customers.Internet marketing is primarily based on the sale of information products. These can be DVDs, CDs, printed reports or digital products which can be downloaded directly from a website. (This form of business is sometimes referred to as ‘digital marketing’) So, to answer that opening question, “what precisely is internet marketing”, it is the process of finding a market, sourcing a product and promoting that product to your chosen market online.One other facet of the business which attracts many people is that it is a very low-cost business with enormous profit margins. It will cost £1 – £2 to produce a single DVD which can be sold for $67, $167 even $967, because what the customer is buying is the information on that disk and not the disk itself. The start-up costs of the business are a fraction of traditional marketing start-up costs. Products can be sourced for a few pounds, creating and hosting a website will cost peanuts.The one item where some financial investment is required is in promoting your product. Even that can be done using free techniques if you choose to go down that particular route. This is especially helpful for those starting a business with very little disposable income. It is easy to work within your means. If you have little to invest but time you can begin slowly and build up as the income starts to increase.So, to summarise, – “What Precisely is Internet Marketing?” – it is a bringing together of both marketing techniques and internet technology. The skills required to achieve this are:1. An understanding of how the internet works and how to use it2. The ability to write sales material, etc.3. The patience and perseverance to do the necessary researchI hope this short internet marketing guide has been of help. If you are thinking of setting up your own home business, then I wish you all the luck in the world.

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Christian Home Based Business Opportunities – Key Secrets to Personal Integrity

Can’t Trust “Get Rich” Scams and Empty PromisesHome Based Business models and opportunities are everywhere on the internet. Very few are considered highly ethical or Christian Home Based Business Opportunities in which Personal Integrity plays a huge role in small businesses. Since the downturn of the economy, many money from home seekers hungered for “get rich” work at home jobs, soon discovered to be a facade, fake opportunities, SCAMS! Unfortunately, you can’t trust the content, support, training or even making money claims.Seekers fled from the Job Fairs and Employment Community Meetings. They flocked to jobs from home, internet home based business models to making money online, and other creative ways to earn extra money. No one has to search long to see all the money making ideas on the internet trying to promise small businesses FREE traffic, MLM leads, a MLM opportunity, legitimate online data entry jobs, and various business ideas. Consequently, very few are concerned about ethics, honesty, honor, respect, and doing the right thing.A Valid QuestionPeople tirelessly have looked here and there for that “right” home based business income, an income that would deliver them from their current state of financial bondage. A Christian home based business opportunity could be the answer. Or at least businesses that encourages personal integrity.So, why the important search to find a job from home that exemplifies value and integrity? What does the Entrepreneur get out of finding a business founded on integrity or involves himself in Christian opportunities?Key Secrets of Personal Integrity

Purpose
Value
Respect
Positive Relationships
Love
Joy
Peace
These qualities attract people to create their own business at home, to write their own paycheck. Highly respected and valued desire.People often experience extreme joy and excitement to make money from home and the number of work at home jobs increase daily. More people are driven to an affordable home based business that has integrity as a core value.WOW! A REAL honest, money making online business opportunity!What’s Really Important In LifeAlthough small businesses and at home jobs rarely develop any substantial home based business income quickly, it’s obvious why making money isn’t all there is to jobs from home. Home based business and personal integrity IS vital because people genuinely desire to:

leverage time to be with family and friends
earn extra money for vacations and travel
RELAX and enjoy life to the fullest
use their business or home opportunity to help others succeed
give to the needy
Your Immediate ChallengeWhether you want to earn money, develop internet home business, or began a home based business online, when it comes to success in life or business, discovering your purpose, your “why”, and key secrets of personal integrity, will place you miles ahead your competition!Become serious about what you do and why. Christian Home Based Business Opportunities aren’t the only work from home jobs that can make a difference. You can too!

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