Critical path method, also referred to as critical path analysis, is a technique or algorithm used for scheduling a set of project events. It was established in the early 1950s as a tool to help people set realistic schedules. It can be employed in a wide range of projects.
The technique is mostly used for projects that involve numerous activities with complex and interdependent interactions. It is, therefore, an important tool for project management. In project management, CPM helps identify critical and non-critical tasks so that conflicts and tailbacks can be prevented. The technique works well when it is applied to the exploration of a project network logic diagram.
Steps for Implementing CMP in Your Project
Below are some steps you should follow to implement CMP in your project:
- First, you need to identify all the activities in your project. Make sure to create a list containing the dates and the estimated amount of time that it will take to complete each activity. You can use a large canvas to do all this.
- The next thing you need to do is to determine the sequence of the activities. Please note the activities that cannot start until preceding activities are completed and plot them on separate notes using circles of arrows. You can also use a post it note for this task.
- Next, you need to build each of the activities into your timeline.
- From there, you can identify the critical path by looking for the longest-duration path through the diagram. The activities along the path cannot be delayed without delaying the project.
- You can update your critical path as you continue working through the project.
- It’s also important to also consider scope creep when planning your project. Scope creep refers to the small requests that come up throughout the project that ultimately delay it.
How to Use Critical Path Method for Productivity
Below are some ways in which CPM will help you use the critical path method to improve productivity while handling different projects;
Fast-tracking refers to the process of running multiple activities on the critical path in parallel. This helps to reduce the time it takes to complete the project. Fast-tracking may require more resources, like labour, to become successful. It also influences the overall quality of the project or the work done because resources have to be distributed to several tasks.
Note that fast-tracking is only possible with activities that do not completely depend on the completion of others to start. These are called hard dependencies. For instance, you cannot start building a house without laying a foundation.
Crashing is where you get to allocate additional resources to an activity that needs to be completed fast. It is beneficial for activities that need additional resources and those with high floats. However, it is not recommended for emergencies because it can impact the activities outside the critical path.
CMP is an important tool for project management, but it also offers many benefits, including reducing delays and visualizing dependencies. It also helps to improve organization, especially when dealing with complex projects because it helps to break down deliverables into sequences that are further broken down into tasks. It also helps to optimize efficiency during projects.