Multiproject Constraint Management:
The “Critical Chain” Approach
FRANK PATRICK, DIGITALGRIT, INC.
Every organization is dependent on projects. From organizational strategy—which could be considered the “metaproject” against which the organization tracks its performance and growth over time—to its portfolios of “improvement projects” and product development projects that keep it effective and competitive, to its day-to-day delivery of unique efforts for which customers or clients pay, an organization relies on projects as the source of its ability to sustain itself over time.
Every organization also has constraints limiting what it can accomplish. With a finite source of time and attention available from the human and other resources that make up the organizational system, it behooves it to assure an appropriate answer to the question, “What should I/we be working on today?” This question, asking about the most effective use of limited resources, combined with a similar question, “How should I/we organize and perform the mass of work facing me/us?” which addresses the efficiency piece of the equation is the basis for the science and art of project management. These are the critical questions for which project management is meant to provide answers.
Most writings on project management until recently have focused on project management related to the delivery of individual projects. While it’s necessary—and nice—to be able to deliver a single project as promised, it’s not sufficient to assure the ability of an organization to address its multiple needs.