Critical Path Method

## What makes a CPM?

CPM or Critical Path Method is a mathematical algorithm of the events used to monitor the progress of a multitasked project in an organization. It is also used to estimate time required for the completion of the project. In fact, it is an effective tool of management to calculate and predict the project completion time and, hence control the organizationâ€™s expenses. It is usually designed in graphics or chart form to facilitate easy tracking of the tasks, human resources and finances.

The CPM involves a critical path analysis in visual/graphical/chart form. This CPA differs from other planning methods due to the extensive use of mapping and predicting hurdles and accidental delays. That are called critical paths.

The circles and lines in a CPM chart represent the paths involving various tasks and activities in steps to complete a project in timely manner. By identifying critical paths managers can establish a series of tasks, plan activities and frame proper schedule to finish the project on time.

Although used extensively by organizations to facilitate smooth planning and running of the project, the technique of CPM has its pros and cons. As is the case with any other project management technique, the CPM too harbors advantages as well as inadvertently nurtures disadvantages. Letâ€™s have a look.

## What are the advantages in a CPM Implemention?

1. The CPM makes it easier for the project managers to build a team and create human network for efficient handling of a multi-tasked project.
2. The Critical Path Method binds the entire team together and motivates the human resources in timely completion of the tasks in a project.
3. The CPM takes into consideration the requirements well in advance to complete a project in the most efficient way possible.
4. With help of the Critical Path Method the project managers can determine the duration and estimate exact time and cost of the project. It helps to monitor human resources, and the direct and indirect costs associated with the project.
5. The CPM assists the project managers in planning schedules, monitoring tasks, and helps control the project expenses.
6. The Critical Path Method also makes it convenient for the project managers to calculate the time required to complete the tasks of the project. That helps them to predict completion date of every phase, anticipate problems along the way, if any, and react accordingly.
7. Charting in a CPM makes it easier to evaluate parallel activities, handle delays and judge the outcome of a task.
8. It enables the managers to minimize the project length by monitoring the critical path.
9. The Critical Path Method chart clearly identifies critical path/s of the project, which assists the managers in decision making to address the issue quickly. It also enables the project head to determine if the task is on schedule or needs boost to accelerate the process.
10. The charting in a CPM also enables the managers to determine start time, end time, slack time and float time associated with each activity of the project.

## What are the disadvantages in a CPM Implementation?

1. In a big project, a CPM can become extremely complicated and difficult to fathom for the new recruits to the project team.
2. If the project is far too bulky and lengthy, the Critical Path Method requires software to monitor the plan.
3. CPM can become ineffective and difficult to manage if it is not well-defined and stable.
4. It cannot effectively handle sudden changes in the implementation of the plan on ground. It is very difficult to redraw the entire CPM chart if the plan of the project suddenly changes midway.
5. The Critical Path Method cannot form and control the schedules of the persons involved in the project.
6. The allocation of resources cannot be properly monitored.
7. The critical path of the CPM of a big project is not always clear. The project managers have to spend a lot of time to calculate it carefully.
8. The Critical Path Method takes longer to identity and to monitor the critical path when the project is of big dimension.
9. Using CPM, identifying and determining a critical path is difficult when there are many other similar duration paths in the project.
10. At times, to design a CPM is time consuming. It is also difficult to estimate the activity completion time in a multidimensional project.

More information on basic Critical Path Method can be found here.

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