Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Putting the critical path to work, part of Project Management Foundations: Schedules.
The task on The Critical Path takes longer, or gets delayed. Its late finish date pushes out finish dates of all the other critical tasks, and eventually, the finish date of the project. By managing the tasks on the critical path, you can keep your project on schedule. Because tasks on the critical path directly affect the project finish date, they should be your top priority for keeping on schedule. In other words, if issues arise that threaten to delay both critical and noncritical tasks, tend to the critical task first.
In our example, the tasks to develop content are critical. They're the ones in red, while the tasks to build the HR website are not, they're blue. If problems come up on both portions of the project, focus on resolving the issue on developing content first. And then turn your attention to the website. The critical path is also the place to look for solutions if your project is already delayed, or needs to finish sooner for any reason. If you're trying to shorten the project, always shorten tasks on the critical path.
If you can finish a critical task earlier, then the project finishes earlier. Keep in mind, the resources assigned to the task, have to be available when you need them, for this approach to work. In our example, suppose the stakeholders want everything finished by December 24th. The employee handbook tasks are critical. They determine the project finish date, December 30th, so they're the ones to shorten. In this case, we shorten the schedule by starting work on the employee handbook before the content is approved. We'll discuss that technique when we talk about fast tracking tasks. This change to the critical path, works.
The employee handbook tasks now finish on December 20th. And the project finish date has changed from December 30th, to December 23rd. When you shorten a critical task, recalculate the critical path before you make any more changes. A shortened task could fall off the critical path, making other tasks critical instead. Another example, The handbook tests are no longer critical. Their task bars have changed from red to blue to show that. If the schedule needs to be even shorter, you would look at other critical tasks to shorten.
Like writing and editing the content or finalizing and publishing the website. Focusing on the tasks on The Critical Path, is important, because they affect when the project finishes. By making changes to those tasks, you can keep your project on time, or bring a delayed project, back on track.
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- Identifying the work that needs to be done
- Adding milestones
- Delaying or overlapping tasks with lag and lead time
- Assigning resources
- Balancing workloads
- Adding buffers and baselines to the schedule
- Uncovering and correcting out schedule problems<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.