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2015 TOCICO International Conference

Transforming Industries Track

Is 50% The Correct Number?
September 7, 2015

This presentation presents feedback on case study research into the applicability of "50%” for CCPM buffer calculation.

Once a project is completed with any significant part of buffer remaining, the inevitable question is raised on the "accuracy” of the value of 50% utilised for buffer calculation, or alternatively the option is raised for additional buffer reduction in upcoming projects.

This research provides insight into the identification and utilisation of the potential additional capacity available in projects., This insight is derived from research in various industries, including construction, maintenance-repair and overhaul, public sector services as well as private sector services.

Results on utilisation of additional capacity is presented and recommendations are provided on the usability of 50% as buffer calculation standard.


CCPM prescribes 50% as standard for the calculation of project buffers. (an overview of basic mathematical statistics is available to "prove” the value of 50%)

However, in practise, when projects are completed with significant project buffer remaining, the question is inevitably raised by management on what the "optimal” buffer sizing should be. All comments from practising project managers that further reductions will jeopardise due date confidence level, is swiped from the table with management’s comment that in "this project” (and possibly/probably previous projects) significant opportunity was left on the table for further optimisation.

The project manager "knows” that further optimisation is "possible”, but is legitimately reluctant to commit to reduced buffers and timelines.

The question arises: Is 50% the correct number, or what should be used? (This question is separately relevant during both planning and execution phases of the project)


The theory of measurement for projects was developed to address the challenge. Measurement strategy and methodology were developed and implemented on more than 50 industrial projects. The results provide valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities (additional capacity) available when executing projects.

In these case studies of industrial projects in a developing country, significant additional capacity was revealed and utilised.

Lessons derived from these projects provide input to the implementation of new management /measurement strategies on projects and the level of expected improvement in project delivery, therefore supporting improved project success ratios and reduced due date risk.

JOHAN STEYN specialises in business growth conversations, facilitating new growth opportunities, competitive positions and unique leverage of customer challenges. He has more than 10 years’ experience as COO of large programmes and 25+ years’ experience in portfolio/programme management, which includes various programmes with teams of several thousand.

Johan has experience in a wide variety of industries, including water and electricity utilities, manufacturing, financial services, public sector, mining, IT, engineering, infrastructure, telecommunications, aviation, agriculture, logistics and services industries, as well as international experience in several countries, including South Africa, Chile, Germany, Colombia, United States, Canada, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Kenya, DRC, Tanzania.

His areas of expertise include:

  • Organisational competitiveness, growth and addressing growth challenges
  • Project/Programme/Portfolio management (Large scale multi-site/multi-disciplinary/multi-stakeholder programme management)
  • Strategic cost reduction, Operations optimisation, Continuous improvement programmes, TOC/Lean/6 sigma
  • Strategic governance of organisational performance
  • His experience in Operations and Supply Chain optimisation includes:
  • Alignment and optimisation of supply chains from suppliers through operations to final customers
  • Develop and implement supplier strategies to support cost optimisation and growth
  • Transform manufacturing operations to maximise throughput and identify available capacity
  • Optimising of supply chains into Africa, addressing and establishing competitive advantages
  • Refine supply chain metrics and performance based on market and growth requirements
  • Johan lead several teams to significant growth in revenues and profitability within 12 months and has presented several papers at international conferences on strategic portfolio/programme management. He lectured at various business schools on project/ programme/ portfolio management. Johan holds a MBA and B Eng

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