When you say critical path method, you are talking about a network that contains different events or activities within a project. These events could be interrelated with each other and dependent on each other as well. Every activity needs to be denoted with a node on this particular chart and you need to join these nodes by using the arrows (which could be drawn manually). These arrows will be signifying the timeline of your activities.
Components To Consider For Scheduling
Here are the important pieces of information you have to collect in order to be able to construct a critical path chart.
- You have to make sure you know all the activities that will be involved in the project.
- You have to identify what path these activities will be following on the network i.e. their sequence.
- You will connect these activities with the help of arrows.
- On the network, you will have to insert the durations for all activities individually.
- Once you have these things in place, you have to locate the only critical path on the network.
- Many tips don’t mention these important things but make sure as you continue with the project to keep updating the status of the chart.
Identifying The Activities Involved
Though this task might look easy but it could be difficult when you have bigger projects because you could end up with a list of thousands of different activities. Remember, when you are working with critical path method, you will be working with activities. There are other techniques focusing and working with other aspects within a project but critical path method focuses on activities so you have to gather information about all of them.
Determining the Sequence
This is probably one of the most important and difficult parts of the project because if you make any mistakes here, this could lead to adverse circumstances. You don’t want to be working with a chart that does not depict your project thoroughly and correctly in the first place: it is as if working with no project at all. So you have to make sure that everything is being brought under consideration and you are logically putting all the activities in an order. If this requires expertise from others to put the right sequence on the chart, you should hold back from taking them.
Creating the Network
Once you have correctly identified all the activities and given them an accurate order, it is time for you to start plotting them. Make sure that you are following the right path and logic to plot the chart because any mistakes could once again take your project into the wrong direction. It has always been recommended to work with the calendar days on your critical path schedule because if you are working with the working days only, you are working without any margins. As a matter of fact, you are not keeping any cushion for yourself when working with the working days of the project.
Estimating Completion Time For Activities
Of course, to make the chart work for you, you have to get information about the completion times of the activities. These are not certain timings because you will be working on a future planning and most of the dates will be expected times. Make sure to get the right information and put it in the form of arrows to represent the activities and their completion dates.
Identifying the Critical Path
After you have put all the information given above on the chart, you have to find what you have constructed it all for: the critical path. When you are looking for critical path on the network, you are actually looking for the longest path available. It must be kept in mind that compromising on any of the activities on this path will directly lead to delay in the project as a whole. There are certain parameters you will be using to identify which one is the critical path on your network. Early start, early finish, late finish and late start are the importance factors that you will be working with to know the critical path on your chart. Just remember the formula that ES should be equal to LS and EF should be equal to LF on your network for locating the critical path.
Make Sure To Update
A lot of people seem to take this for granted and this is the point where many people take the first step in not using the technique for their benefit. Always update the chart as you continue to progress with the project.