The critical path method is also referred to as CPM and is considered a network analysis algorithm used about controlling and planning of routine projects.
This technique is used for complex tasks whose time duration, as well as the resources needed for its completion, is assumed to be known.
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The critical path method is described as a technique for process planning to avoid process blockage and time-frame issues. It is mostly suited for projects that include numerous activities of a complex nature.
The critical path method has been adapted in several fields like construction projects related to missile-defense, aerospace, engineering, product development and software, and hardware product R&D.
4 Functions of the critical path method
The functions of the critical path method are as follows-
- The most important function of the critical path method is to identify the activities that ought to be completed in a timely manner so that the project does not get delayed
- The critical path method calculates the minimum time needed to complete a project
- It identifies the tasks that can be delayed and for the amount of duration without having an impact on the whole project
- Helps to identify the dates the activities can start and finish at the earliest and latest respectively to maintain the schedule of the project.
4 Elements of Critical Path
It is important to identify the activities in a project along with their importance, for instance, the interdependency of activities on one another.
Now is the time to draw a network that will connect all crucial activities and determine which needs to be done first and all others subsequently in a step-by-step manner.
#1. Critical path analysis
The critical path is the one with the longest duration. A delay in the sequence of activities will cause a delay in the project
#2. Critical Float determination
Float is the time an activity can be allowed to slip before it starts causing a delay in tasks. After determining the critical path, determine the float of each activity.
#3. An early start and finish calculation
With the help of the forwarding Pass technique determine the earliest date, an activity can start and also can finish.
#4. A late start and finish calculation
With the help of the Backward Pass technique determine the latest date an activity can start and the latest date finish before it starts delaying the project.
9 Steps employed in critical path method
- The first step is determining the list of activities and the duration that it will take to finish the task
- Determining the sequence of the current and the predecessor activities and its dependencies
- Which task must take place before it begins and what is the task that should be started after the first is completed is an important question that needs to be addressed
- Calculate and then add the duration of the activities as it will help to determine whether it is a critical activity or not
- Draw the network diagram using activity on the place where the lines intersect as it will give an idea of the activities and their said relationships
- Identify the paths by looking at the routing ton know what the paths are
- Determine the critical path by applying and adding the durations
- Refresh and update the diagram as the project progresses
- Devise alternatives or backups for the most critical paths.
#1. Minimizing delays
An organization can use the critical path method to minimize the delays in a project
#2. Organizes complex projects
#3. Predicts time
The critical path method predicts the time that will be required to complete the project
#4. Improves project organization
It is easy to break deliverables into sequences and further into tasks with the help of critical path method. It becomes easier to improve project organization when you have a critical path of tasks, mapping constraints and visualizing dependencies at your fingertips to help you through
#5. Visualize dependencies
The critical path method gives information about the activities and their interdependencies and this chart helps the management to prioritize tasks and visualize dependencies
#6. Maximizing efficiency
When a project manager can determine which task is more important he can use the information to allocate resources efficiently. It also helps to bring back the project on track
#7. Float calculation
The critical path method helps to calculate float the makes it possible to distribute required resources effectively. In simple terms, it doles out a float to activities and flexibility to float activities.
#8. Graphical view
The critical path method shows the graphical view of the task/project
#9. Project plan
The algorithm helps in controlling, scheduling, and planning of a project. It offers clear directions and enhanced visibility to achieve organizational goals.
#10. Contingency plan
It is now possible for an organization to create and maintain contingency planning.
- A critical path is a planning tool that assumes every resource is available at every time for a project and this is not true
- Chances of misusing float are high
- It does not take into account resource dependencies
- The attention on non-critical activities is negligible
- Less routine projects are not completed within the approved time even if the company is following the critical path method
- The estimates are not based on a statistical analysis
- It cannot be used as a dynamic controlling device as any change if introduced will change the entire framework of the network
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