Basic CPM Scheduling

Understanding Basic CPM Scheduling

Critical Path Method scheduling solutions are widely used today to help manage projects that involve many activities or tasks. They can help ensure critical tasks are completed on time to prevent delays and mounting costs.

They typically come in the form of computer software that can present a work sequence visually and designate start and finish dates for each activity. Understanding the basics of CPM makes it easier to use it effectively. Let’s look at the key concepts and terms involved.

Basic CPM Scheduling

Activity-on-Node (AON) Diagrams

AON diagrams are typically square or rectangular diagrams or nodes that represent each activity. Arrows show the relationships between these activities. The management team will break down each project into a list of activities that will have to be completed.

AON diagrams illustrate these activities and the order in which they need to be completed. Often, one activity (A) has to be completed before the next activity (B) can start.

Critical Activities

Critical activities need to be done on time or they will delay the project and affect secondary tasks. They don’t have any float. They are the key milestones that move the project forward.

Critical Path

The critical path refers to the string of critical activities that need to be done from the beginning of the project to its successful end. Adding up the duration of each critical path activity will reflect the total project duration.

Start and Finish Times

Start and finish times are crucial to calculating the Critical Path. They include the following:


Float is a term that refers to potential delays and how these may affect the overall project.

Basic CPM Scheduling Calculations Explained

After all the activities are defined in a logical sequence, it’s time to do the calculations. The CPM calculation process involves several steps.

Basic CPM Scheduling – The Wrap Up

Understanding the basics of CPM scheduling will make it easier to use this method to plan, control, and complete projects successfully. The Critical Path Method (CPM) is effective for both small and large projects. It’s convenient, fast, and transparent.

Once you become familiar with its key concepts and terms, you will be able to use CPM with confidence to complete projects. In the end, CPM is not hard—it’s only a question of knowing the basics. Equipped with these, you can go on to schedule your first project.

Additional CPM Scheduling Resources

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