Join Bonnie Biafore for an in-depth discussion in this video Reviewing the critical path, part of Microsoft Project 2010 Essential Training.
- The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks in a project, so it runs from project start to the finish. That means date changes for tasks on the critical path also change the project finish date. As you plan and manage projects, the critical path helps you see where you can shorten the schedule, or highlights delays that could delay the entire project. If you wanna see the critical tasks in your project, go to the Format tab.
In the Bar Styles section, turn on the Critical Tasks checkbox. When you look at the timescale, you'll see your critical tasks have task bars that are red. Well, what does "critical" really mean? When you get right down to it, critical tasks have no slack. That means if you have a critical task, and it delays, it delays the entire project. There are two ways you can see slack in Microsoft Project. First, you can go to the Bar Styles section on the Format tab, and turn on the Slack checkbox.
Now, when I look at "Draft the budget," which is non-critical, it has a narrow black bar off the back end of the task bar. That's slack. That means the task can move forward the length of that bar without affecting the finish date of the project. On the other hand, "Identify physical requirements" is a critical task. There's no narrow bar. It cannot move at all without affecting the finish date for the project.
The other way to see slack is to insert the Total Slack column. I'm gonna right-click the Predecessors heading, and then choose Insert Column. I'll start to type Total Slack, and when I see the field name, I click it, and that inserts the column. If I look at "Draft the budget" in the table, total slack is 45.5 days. On the other hand, "Identify physical requirements" is a critical task; total slack is zero days. Let's take a look at a critical task in action.
"Design office space" is another critical task. It has total slack of zero days. Its finish date is December 4th, and the finish date for the total project is March 28th. Well, what happens if I increase the duration of "Design office space"? I'm gonna make that 20 days. Well, doing that changes the task's finish date. Now it's December 11th. And if I go up to the top and look at the project summary task, the finish date for the project has changed as well, to April 4th.
So, changing the duration and the finish date of a critical task changes the finish date of the entire project. Project has several features for showing the critical path. Use whichever one you want, any time you want.
- Setting up projects and calendars
- Creating tasks and milestones
- Linking and timing tasks
- Setting up and assigning resources
- Understanding duration, work, and units
- Filtering and grouping items with views
- Adding tasks to a baseline
- Updating progress and costs
- Viewing project status
- Running reports
- Importing and exporting projects
Skill Level Beginner
1. Working with Project
2. Setting Up Project Files
3. Creating Tasks
4. Linking and Timing tasks
5. Creating Resources
6. Assigning Tasks to Resources
7. Working with Views
8. Fine-Tuning the Project Schedule
9. Tracking and Managing a Project
10. Viewing and Reporting Project Information
11. Sharing Projects
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