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Comments Off on Critical Chain vs. Critical Path

Critical Chain vs. Critical Path

I have had it happen before that someone has overheard discussions of Critical Chain methodology, and commented along the lines of: “Critical Path? Oh yeah, I know what that is!” I’d be more inclined to look down my nose were it not for the fact that I did the same thing the first week I was on the job. Fortunately, my mentor was of a forgiving nature.

So what are the differences?

Critical Path is an important concept. Functionally, it looks at how to get from point A to point Z and what has to occur to get there. The important thing in building a critical path is that you start at the end and work backwards. “Directly, before I can Z, I have to Y.” And so on. This works perfectly for the work of a single person, or a simple line of tasks. If there is more than one work stream going on, the longest one is the most critical path to get the tasks done, hence the name.

In Critical Chain, we concentrate on working only one task at a time to increase efficiency. Avoiding interruptions assists in timely completion. Critical Chain recognizes that when dealing with multiple workstreams and many resources, things get murky. More importantly, it takes into account that humans make mistakes. By making estimates that are only 50% completable and counting on the project to account for the remainder, it frees the employee to just do their best without fear of repercussion for late delivery. But that willingness will fade if you, as the PM, don’t champion their right to go beyond that 50% estimate.

In summation, Critical Path is more of an approach of efficiently connecting tasks, while Critical Chain uses that task order as a basis to better direct human activity, thus managing the most critical asset of the project: the people performing it.

Scott Moreland is a certified Project Manager with 10+ years in project delivery.  

Contact us to learn how PMforward Project Management Solutions can assist your organization.

Comments Off on 5 Attributes of a Great Contract Project Manager

Managing Projects for over 20 years has taught me a few things about what attributes a good project manager must possess. A good part of my role today is to find and place contract project managers. Great PMs have many traits and you can read tons of articles on what attributes comprise a good PM. After reading and reflecting on several of these article and then looking back over my years of project delivery and hiring PMs, I have compiled these 5 attributes I look for in a great contract project manager:

PM Technical Knowledge:

You must be able to demonstrate that you know a little about most PM methods of management, and a lot about a couple. The ability to articulate project management methodology and the classic structured approach to managing a project instill confidence. That is, a good contract project manager MUST be able to articulate and demonstrate that they understand the mechanics of a structured approach to managing a project. This is important to any client who is purchasing PM expertise to supplement their workforce. The understanding of the mechanics instills the confidence that you can pull them through this project and have many methods to choose from in your toolbox. A PM who cannot debate the pros and cons of Critical Path, Critical Chain, Waterfall, Agile/Scrum is not ready to be put in a contract PM position. Secondly, the PM must be highly skilled in the software tools required to manage a project (MSProject, SharePoint, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)


Contract project managers are not for the faint of heart and to do this well you have to have confidence in yourself. You have to have the ability to be thrust in a situation and say I can do anything given enough time and information.


Demonstrating consistent personal integrity is your golden ticket. Clients need to trust that you will provide what they are paying for. Respect their time and money by giving 110% during your work day. As well, the ability to provide honest information and feedback in a constructive way demonstrates your intention of integrity.


As a contractor you are often looked upon as an outsider in the beginning. You require the ability to win the confidence of your team who might be initially threatened by your presence.  Personality and humor work wonders and are a necessary tool of all contractors.


Having a passion for what you do and doing it well is another attribute that is key for contract PM’s.  As a contractor a genuine concern for serving the client and the project and making them successful is key.

Of course, there are other attributes that make up a great contract project managers but these are the top five in my, not so humble, opinion.


Patty Cline is a Senior level Project Manager with 20+ years in project delivery.  Patty is currently the BCforward PM Engagement Manager.  Patty recruits and hires entry, middle and senior level PMs. Her experience in project delivery spans across many industries including, Healthcare, Education, Government, Insurance and Finance. 

Contact us to learn how PMforward Project Management Solutions can assist your organization.

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