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Critical Path Identification

Our success is always counted on the probable list of accolades such as how well we deliver, how well we achieve the project goal and how quickly we deliver in limited budget. In this highly competitive corporate world, our work becomes the trumpet of our talent, if we are smart enough, that is. And to become smarter, we need to use many techniques to prove that we can coordinate any project and deliver the result on time.


Critical Path Method (CPM) is such a tool, which enlightens you to finish the given project on time and become a winner. Let’s have a look.

CPM is a project management tool comprised of a set of interdependent tasks and execution schedules. Based on mathematical algorithm, it calculates the duration of all the activities before the project is implemented and assists the managers to coordinate the project as per the pre-determined schedule.

The project schedule is usually designed in graphical form with circles or square boxes for the tasks. Each task/activity is assigned the earliest and latest start and finish dates. All the tasks of the CPM project are then represented in network as shown in the following diagram.

The diagram here shows tasks A to F in a project network. Each task is assigned the earliest starting time (ES) and the earliest finishing time (EF). The ES represents the date on which the task is actually executed. The EF is the task completion date. Difference in dates here gives the duration of the task. For instance, the Task A has ES of 1 and EF of 3. That means the first task has been allotted 3 days of duration. Similar is the case with Task F. Its ES and EF produces 3 days of duration to complete the job. The sum of all such durations yields the project duration beginning with Task A to its finish date ending with Task F.

Now, all these tasks are linked together by arrowed lines. The arrows show dependency. The Task B here is dependent on Task A and Task D. That means B cannot be initiated until A is over. Similar is the case with Tasks C and E.


The next step is to identify the critical path of the project. The critical path is the sequence of interdependent activities that start and end on time. If the schedule of any of the tasks on this path is disturbed, the entire project is likely to get delayed. It is the longest way in the project schedule. The red line in the CPM diagram is the heart of the project. If the managers focus on the activities belonging to the critical path, they can very well monitor the progress, stick to the schedule and finish the project on time.
For instance, in a fortnightly project all the tasks are scheduled for 15 days to complete. If Task A on the critical path takes one day more to complete, the succeeding task B is delayed by one day. And if B is delayed by another day, the project is sure to consume a couple of days more to finish.

Therefore, the managers constantly have to keep an eye on the critical path objects. If he notices the delay, he will immediately take action by adding a few more resources or accelerate other task to make up the lost time. The delay is checked. If that happens, the project is surely on track and most likely, will finish on time.

Thus, the project planning and time management rests with the project managers. The project is easier to complete on time if planned properly through the CPM and by constant monitoring of the critical path. Using mathematical calculations, the CPM chart can be created and schedule of all the activities can be planned and fixed as per the requirements of the project. None would dare say now that you’re unworthy of coordinating the projects. Using CPM, you can overcome the project delay make the bosses happy.

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