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2015 TOCICO International Conference

Transforming Industries Track

Paolo Chakour
Godratt Associates, Brazil

Pablo Mazzotti
Project Management Office Manager
Metodo Engenharia

Construction Management Transformed by the Critical Chain Method
September 7, 2015

This project is the application of project management methodology called Critical Chain, in ten (10) constructions of the Método Engenharia. The Critical Chain is the application of Theory of Constraints in project management environment.

The Critical Chain has been applied by several companies in Brazil like Embraco, Whirlpool, Vale, Petrobras, Votorantim, Embraer, Braskem and others around the world. The results, which are customarily obtained from the application of Critical Chain, cause it to be applied by a growing number of organizations. Outside Brazil are also several cases of success.

Market demands imposed on companies, increasingly force its executives to find new solutions to problems that often exist for years. In Método Engenharia, the methodology applied was called Critical Chain in order to give visibility to managers (focus) on critical activities, providing guidance to the management layer to take action focused on the critical tasks that may impact on the deadline of the construction.

Information overload or lack of relevant information affects decision making for FOCUS actions that actually generate results. When construction is delayed, management require everyone to speed up their activities and act equally in the recovery of all work fronts, apart from the efforts of management. They end up not having time to deal with relevant issues that require immediate attention. When everything is important, nothing is important.

The Critical Chain method, whose principle is to remove the individual security of each task and allocate them at the end of the project. This security is called Project Buffer. All project management is done by comparing the physical progress of the project with the buffer consumption. When the project is delayed, evident activities that are impacting more on the buffer consumption and actions in these activities bring FOCUS to good management, increasing the chances of success in meeting the project objectives.

Other benefits arising from the use of the Critical Chain methodology are: the integration of the schedules of the various areas (architecture, supplies, construction, electrical, painting, automation, security, etc.) allowing them to be identified and eliminate conflicts, optimizing the use of resources (do more with the same) and ensuring that all scopes are executed with less stress. The sum of these elements shows that it is possible to generate not only financial gain but also strategic and gains related to the company's image.

To enjoy the potential gains from the implementation of the Critical Chain methodology, you need a progressive work on culture change and paradigms and especially, you need a lot of support from managers who play a key role to remove obstacles. The intermediate layer is critical to the methodology, because despite the support of senior management, without effective buy-in of the coordinators and managers, the CCPM has no strength. They need to see value.

Application of Critical Chain in this project was supported by ProChain Project Scheduling software, developed by ProChain Solutions, Inc., a company based in Washington, DC and a partner of Goldratt Associates Brazil.

What needed to be changed?

  • Lack of a greater involvement of the Task Managers in the planning.
  • Planning created in commercial / preliminary stage was used throughout the execution.
  • Priorities defined by the experience of managers, with little schedule management.
  • Big challenge for meeting time, scope, quality and cost.
  • Excessive multitasking throughout the execution.
  • Low investment of time required for planning schedules.

What was the intended future state?

  • Greater integration between planners, task managers and project manager.
  • Qualified Information about project status.
  • Finish the projects on time, scope, quality and cost.
  • Identifying priorities and key challenges of constructions.
  • Increased reliability in schedules and a better understanding of the total set of work activities and their inter-relationships.
  • Identification of the status of the work, setting priorities and anticipation of possible problems.
  • Generation of scenarios for decision-making.
  • Alerts to set up triggers for decision making, before it is too late.
  • Involvement of the Project Managers in updates and meeting management.

How was the transformation accomplished? 

  • Schedule created with the performers, from a clear understanding of the designs
  • Schedule with updated information of the execution strategy.
  • Schedules managed by the Critical Chain method, pointing critical activities and directing the priorities of execution.
  • War room with magnetic board for project network creation.
  • Task Managers involved in schedule creation.
  • Design projects support the understanding of the product on schedule creation.
  • Planners trained in the Critical Chain Project Management.
  • Schedules updated with Task Managers.
  • Model for evaluating the implementation of good practices of CCPM in the works.
  • Redesign when necessary (Changes in the implementation strategy).

What were the lessons learned? This point should include successes, challenges, and obstacles and how they were overcome.

  • Planned a week for the creation of each schedule. This time proved not feasible. However, it was found that the design of each work schedule was taking 4 to 6 weeks to complete. It was found that the time was too long for excessive activities included in the schedule. The use of successive waves and less detailed schedules brought better results, as well as the use of schedules Long, Medium and Short term.
  • The level of detail of the schedule defined initially, difficult to manage because of the frequent need for replanning and unreal critical chains.
  • The Project Managers delegated to planners the conduct of management meetings. Implemented audit model of good practice in projects in order to demonstrate that projects which applied best practices, had better results.
  • With the implementation of Critical Chain, corporate managers got the updated status of the work related to the end of the construction period.
  • Before, more than one manager defined the priorities for execution. The managers were involved in the creation of a single schedule, with the participation of all involved.
  • Frequent change of Task Managers.

PAULO CHAKOUR is Project Management Consultant at Goldratt Associates, Brazil. He has an MBA in Project Management from Fundação Instituto de Administração, Production Engineering from Universidade Paulista, Certified PMP with ten years of experience in Project Management in the areas of construction, industrial maintenance, consultancy, business management and IT. Currently a Partner and Project Management Consultant at Goldratt Associates Brasil where he has applied tools of TOC - Theory of Constraints including the CCPM - Critical Chain Project Management.

PABLO MAZZOTTI is Project Management Office Manager of Metodo Engenharia. He is a Civil Engineer from São Paulo University and Businesses Administrator from Getulio Vargas Foundation, PMP certified. Manager of PMO – Project Management Office – responsible for all Planning and Control professionals and methodologies, and responsible for the CCPM implementation at the Metodo construction projects.

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