Critical Path Analysis: How to Calculate the Critical Path in a Project

The critical path is the series of tasks which must be completed within a specific timescale in order for the whole project to be completed on schedule.

Any task which is located on the critical path is of significant importance to the timing and workflow of the project.

The critical path is outlined in the activity network diagram, which is used to outline the path required for the successful completion of a project. The activity network diagram can be used to show which subtasks are very important to the success of the project. The critical path method is also known as CPM.

The activity network diagram is a very useful way of showing you which activities are important to ensure that the more complex project is completed on time. It is very time consuming to create one of these diagrams, however it is exceptionally important.

First you need to consider how complicated your project is, if your project has a number of paths then creating one diagram for each path might not be worth your while.

It’s only worth creating one of these diagrams if the subtasks have relatively accurate durations. If you don’t know the durations of the tasks then completing one of these diagrams may be a waste of time.

A CPM diagram is very important if you are dealing with tasks which could make or break the project. This diagram will ensure that the tasks are completed in a specific order with a specific amount of time.

How to Use CPM

First you need to make sure you have the right people on board, make sure that your team is devoted and possesses the right skills. The team also needs to be aware of the timing of the subtasks and all the other information required to get the project completed on time.

You should then try to break your project up into smaller subtask, and then you need to identify them all. It’s possible to do this by using brainstorms or by learning from your experiences with previous projects. You should then arrange the subtasks in the order that they should be completed in.

Try to assign certain durations to each subtask, write this on the card so that you don’t forget. You will be adding these numbers together later so make sure you use the same measurement, for example either record all the times in days or hours.

By adding all of the times together you will be able to work out how long the whole project will take; this is known as the critical path. The critical path shows tasks that must be completed on time in order for the project to remain on schedule.

Although the critical path shows no room for movement it can change as the project progresses. If a certain task is done faster than estimated then the critical path will change.

A critical path will help you to realise which tasks are the most important for the success of your project. By creating a critical path you will be able to manage your project much more effectively.