Project Buffers

Please answer these questions:

In Chapter 3, Leach introduces the concept of a project buffer, a tool that adds an allowance at the end of the critical chain to increase the probability of on-time delivery (p. 58). He describes some different ideas about how to size the buffer, referencing several ideas about how to a realistic level of predictability while avoiding sources of bias in the estimation.

For those of us with PM experience: What sort of project buffers do you currently use and how do you determine them? What experiences have led you to use that particular buffer?

For those of us without PM experience: How do you see the concept of a project buffer applying itself to projects in your workplace? Would a buffer offer you anything additional to your project, something that float (slack) doesn’t offer?

Morris, P. W., & Pinto, J. K. (2007). The Wiley guide to project control. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

The concept of a project buffer plays an important role in the management of projects in organizations. In project management, project buffers are inserted at the end of the project network between the last activity and the project completion date. It helps the project management team to account for delays in the project by allowing the longest chain of dependent tasks to consume the buffer leaving the completion time unchanged and, in the process, protect the project. Project buffers are recommended in instances where projects face various uncertainties with reference to time, resources, and project paths.

I have used project buffers throughout the various projects I have undertaken in our company. The company engages in several projects that are sometimes faced with many uncertainties, hence, the need for project buffers. The project buffers are useful in project scheduling. The project management begins with the scheduling process where schedules are prepared based on the likely time durations for each task. In any cases, some activities take longer periods than estimated. The project management thus applies the schedule buffers to manage these changes and protect the project.

Moreover, the organization uses task buffers in pooling safety margins that protect the completion date of the project. Since the time estimates of the tasks are made during the planning process, the tasks may take longer during execution. Consequently, the project management team makes use of buffers to ensure that the project is completed at the stipulated time despite the various challenges…

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