One of the most crucial steps in project management when taking on a new operation is laying out the critical path. This step in planning will give you the best indication of the project’s estimated time, allowing you to set realistic start times and finish times for completion. This also gives you a clear indication of actions that could delay your project activities if not completed on time. Identifying the critical path method in your project is an excellent way to ensure important tasks run smoothly and are completed on time.

A Critical Path Analysis: How to Identify

critical path

To identify the critical path, the complex project must first have a work breakdown structure and be divided into individual tasks. Arranging them into a sequence of tasks will give you a map of the project. Some tasks can be completed immediately, while other tasks require the completion of another assignment to get started. Begin by writing out all the tasks that have no prerequisites in a column. In the next column, write down the dependent tasks that depend on completion of those from the first column. You can then create more columns and continue to link new tasks to activities that must be completed in the column before. Continue this until every task has been listed.

Once you have your tasks outlined, estimate the amount of time needed for each one and write it beside the task. You can use any known quantity, such as completion time estimates, to determine how long it should take to complete. When you have finished project scheduling, look at the lines you’ve drawn and find the chain between all columns that requires the greatest amount of time to complete. This is your critical path.

How Does Knowing the Critical Path Help You Achieve Successful Projects?

Adding all the project times on the critical path will give you a solid estimate of the time it will take to complete the overall project. This allows you to set your start and end dates without short-timing your team members. It also identifies the critical activities or those that are most likely to delay the entire project completion. By focusing some extra attention on the project planning, you have a better chance of meeting the completion dates you set on your project schedule.

Because you know how important these tasks are to your timeline, this can also help you work your budget and resource allocation around critical tasks and ensure the people assigned to these tasks have all the tools they need to complete their assignments. If budget or resource mistakes are made, it will have a lesser impact when they affect non-critical path tasks and will be easier to recover from.

Determining the critical path of a project deliverable can be a time-consuming yet worthwhile endeavor. Creating an informed estimate of the activity duration required to complete a project by the finish date ensures you don’t expect faster results than are possible and pushes your team to finish in a reasonable length of time. Focusing on this critical path activity and meeting the deadline for each task on it will give you the best chance of maintaining the level of efficiency needed to complete your whole project on time from start to finish and prevent the waste of resources and man-hours that can be allocated to the next project plan on your list. If your business is seeking to improve its current project manager processes, contact EIRE Systems for more information about our project management professionals and service offerings.

About the Author: EIRE Systems

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EIRE Systems is a leading independent provider of professional IT, AV and Access Security services to the financial, insurance, manufacturing, health care, retail, construction, hospitality, commercial real estate, legal, educational and multinational sectors in Japan and throughout the Asia Pacific region. EIRE Systems has expertise across a wide spectrum of Information Technologies, with a track record for successfully completing hundreds of assignments since its establishment in 1996.