What is the Critical Path?

In project management, project managers’ key role is to deliver the project in the best possible time. For this purpose, multiple strategic approaches came into action. For conducting or creating PERT analysis, you need this analysis. Without this analysis, you can’t manage dependents activities in running projects.

  1. Strategy use in Project Execution Stage
  2. Components of Work breakdown structure
  3. Visual Diagram Template

These approaches focus on eliminating all types of redundant activities from the project plan and make it as lean as possible. Most commonly used and effective project scheduling techniques are;

  1. Project Timeline
  2. Gant Charts
  3. Critical Path Analysis
  4. Project Evaluation and Review Technique

All the above techniques common input is work breakdown structure, list of activities, their inter-dependencies, start and end dates, and different time estimates such as naturally deterministic time, optimistic time, most likely time and pessimistic time.

Purpose of project scheduling techniques to arrange all activities in the best possible sequence to calculate the best possible time for completion of the project.

What is critical Path

What is Critical Path Analysis?

It is one of the best project activities scheduling techniques that use project network diagram for calculation of longest project time, critical and non-critical activities, and their float or slacks.

The project network diagram is a visual representation of project activities arranged based on inter-dependencies of activities. It uses nodes and arrows for graphically representing all project tasks. The length of the arrow represents the required duration to complete the activity while the nodes are stationary points or events that don’t consume any resource and time. It just represents the start or end of activities.

Very important project management tool or technique for understating the depth of project nature. It’s the longest path that passes through all the key activities of the project which don’t have any float to be delayed.

These activities are called critical activities of the project. Forward and Backward pass score is equal for these activities that represent the cushion of zero slack for these activities. All activities other than critical activities are non-critical which can float under the certain value of slack without disturbing the completion of the project. In this way, the CPM highlights the key focus areas for improvement to directly impact to shorten the project completion time.

Components of Critical Path Template:

There are four key components of a critical path that sets together to present a critical path of the project. These components are;

  1. List of Activities
  2. Duration or Completion time of activities
  3. Links or dependencies between the activities
  4. Milestone and Deliverable items of the project

Understanding Critical Path in Project Management

To find out the CP of any project regardless of project scale, critical path analysis or method is used. The outcome of critical analysis is CP, critical activities, non-critical activities, and slack values. Following are the simple guidelines to find out the critical path of any project;

Project Network

Identify the basic information that is required to make a project network diagram such as a list of project activities, their dependencies, and durations. Use this information and make a network diagram.

Evaluation Techniques

Apply forward pass a method to find out the early start and early finish time of all the activities. Similarly, use the backward pass technique to evaluate the latest start and latest finish time.

Highlight all the activities which have the same earliest start and latest start time or earliest finish and latest finish time. These activities have zero float value and called critical activities. Joining all these activities results in a path known as a critical path of the project. All remaining activities are non-critical activities.

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