Critical Chain Project Management, Third Edition – Book Review

What are the biggest project constraints? You can get the hint from the Critical Chain Project Management, Third Edition. Here is the book review!

Hey Crizpers, today I would like to offer a project management book review. Recently I got a chance to read Critical Chain Project Management (Third Edition) by Lawrence P. Leach. The book is published by ArtechHouse. They are real professionals. The book is of a great quality, plus the delivery was extremely prompt! As I had an opportunity to meet the book, I would like to share my impression and feedback with you.

What’s Inside 

The author provides a comparison of the several project management theories to outline the core common things in the methodologies and to define the general constraints which prevent projects to succeed.

Factually, the theories’ description is very much detailed and precise thus even if you are not familiar with the approaches the author has taken as a reference point, you would be able to grab the basics while reading. 

Critical Chain Project Management

For the comparison L. Leach took the Critical Path Method (CPM), Critical Chain Method (CPM) by Eliyahu M. Goldrat, Theory of Constraints (TOC), Total Quality Management (TQM). Besides, the author compares different project management methodologies such as PMBOK classical guidelines, Lean, Agile and Kanban. 

From the analogy perspectives, especially if you are not specifically familiar with one of the taken theories or methodologies, the book would be very informative. It will give you a reference about the unfamiliar theories principles and their parallel among other project management approaches.

Personal Note

Another thing that I have grasped, Mr. Leach has conducted a deep analysis of the application field throughout the different industries and as a result has proposed a universal hypothesis on how the project delivery approach could be improved. As we already know, Project Management is generic, cross functional and multi applicable (check my video on YouTube). The beauty of the cure that L. Leach provides is a unified solution for multiple fields Project Management is applicable to.

Inner Idea 

inner idea

The core thought is dancing around the Work in Progress (WIP) term. According to L. Leach this parameter is a general conflict and constraint that prevents projects from the successful delivery. Therefor, for projects to be delivered successfully, should the WIP constraint be constrained? 

In reality, a number of Project Management approaches talk about the work in progress and about how to properly leverage this indicator. While reading I was recalling Kanban with its specific board which helps to transparently outline what status a task has and how close to the completion it is. Besides, using the Kanban board we can clearly see how many activities are in progress and analyze this against the performance. 

Evil Multitasking

Also, Mr. Leach focuses on the problem that a lot of the projects have. It outlines and specifies the dramatic impact of multitasking. Many of us usually perceive this skill as an advantage. Honestly, how many things could you do simultaneously? Especially, if each of the activities requires your precise attention? According to human nature, people are able to efficiently perform only one task at once. Thus, if you are writing an email, most likely you will not be able to code at the same time. 

And in the book we can observe the conclusion: the more WIP we have simultaneously, the less efficiently a project is performing, and the longer it takes to complete it. This is very understandable, as if we have many things in an active state, we need to pay our attention to all of them. Here we usually enable our time management skills and start to plan when we are going to do what. And here comes the tricky thing. When we need to switch to another task, we are putting an additional effort to recall what the task was about and where we have stopped last time. Is this effort usually considered in the estimates? I really doubt.

Actually Lean methodology is playing with WIP particularly. If you do Lean, you do not allow people to switch and to take a new task until the previous one is done. Thus Lean allows only 1 task in progress which should burst up the project performance, Mr. Leach considers this in the book as well. 


Another item from the research information that I was very amused about is resource leveling. The curious thing is that according to the investigation that was made by the author, many PMs do not consider this indicator while planning. Responding to the question ‘Why?’; according to the book they say that resource leveling is extending the project timeline. Well… But how a person could do that many tasks at the same time? Shouldn’t we keep a realistic approach?

Resource Planning is extremely exciting itself, but with the wrong approach it can ruin the project. 

Who For

As for the focus auditory I believe the book would be interesting and valuable for practicing project managers as it will give a chance to analyze the content from the real life perspective. Actually what I personally love in reading professional literature is that you can instantly compare the suggested approach with what you do in reality; explore the solution and implement the improvements to your projects if needed on the flight. That is my favorite part. And Critical Chain Project Management, Third Edition provides this opportunity.

Additionally, the book would be useful for those who are planning to start the Project Management career, or is in the very beginning of the professional path. As I have noted above, the book provides a detailed overview and analysis of the Project Management theories and compares them along with suggesting the improved approach of managing projects. It gives a high-level understanding of the methodologies and helps to instantly grasp the general flavors of the Project Management craft. 

Have you read this book (Critical Chain Project Management, Third Edition)? Let me know your personal impression.