Determine what the critical path is and how to identify the tasks on it.
- [Voiceover] The critical path is the sequence of tasks in your schedule with the longest duration. Why is the critical path so critical? Because any delay on that path delays the finish date of the project. Just as significant, you can shorten the project schedule if you can figure out how to shorten the critical path. So, what makes tasks critical? Simple, they don't have any slack, also called float in project management terms.
Just like a string without slack, critical tasks have no leeway to move, without affecting the schedule. For example, the installation tasks all occur one after the other, with no slack. If any of these tasks are delayed, the project finish date moves later in time. Conversely, if a task has slack, it can start later without delaying the tasks that come after it. For example, the hotel room Install Technology task could delay several weeks before it delays the project finish date.
Now let's look at how you identify whether or not a task has slack. A task has two sets of start and finish dates that bracket when the task can occur. The early start and early finish are the earliest possible dates the task can start or finish, based on its dependencies with other tasks. For example, the Specify Requirements task can start as early as October 3rd and finish on October 14th.
The late start and late finish are the latest possible dates the task can start and finish, without delaying tasks that follow. The late start and finish dates are November 24th and December 7th. That means the task has several weeks of slack, so it isn't on the critical path. On the other hand, if the early and late dates are the same, there's no slack. That's why Run Cables is on the critical path.
The good news is that you don't have to perform these calculations. When you use project scheduling programs, they take care of figuring out the critical path for you. The critical path is the place to look when you want to keep your project on time or even shorten the schedule.
Bonnie Biafore has always been fascinated by how things work and how to make things work better. In this course, she explains the fundamentals of project management, from defining the problem, establishing project goals and objectives, and building a project plan to managing team resources, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. Along the way, she provides tips for reporting on project performance, keeping a project on track, and gaining customer acceptance.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Defining the components of a project
- What it takes to be a project manager
- Using project management software like Microsoft Project
- Managing project scope, budget, and schedule
- Managing project resources, including people
- Managing project risk
- Initiating a project
- Identifying and managing stakeholders
- Identifying requirements and deliverables
- Developing a project plan
- Building a project schedule
- Assigning resources to tasks
- Understanding the critical path
- Running the project
- Managing teams
- Monitoring performance
- Closing a project
Skill Level Beginner
Project Management Foundations: Communicationwith Doug Rose1h 47m Appropriate for all
Project Management Foundations: Budgetswith Bob McGannon1h 11m Appropriate for all
1. Getting to Know Project Management
2. Exploring Project Management Knowledge Areas
3. First Things First
How to develop requirements4m 19s
4. Developing a Project Plan
5. Building a Project Schedule
6. While You Run the Project
7. Working with Teams
8. Monitoring and Controlling Progress and Performance
9. Closing a Project
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