Critical Path and Critical Chain Method: PMP Topics to Learn
Critical Path Method
The Critical Path Method, also known as CPM (Project Management), is one of the most important techniques for analyzing schedule networks. The Critical Path is the longest sequence or activities that must be completed to complete the entire project. If not completed on time, these activities can delay a project. It is used by Project Managers to plan and estimate the duration of the project. The Critical Path Method is important because:
It allows you to estimate the time it will take to complete a project.
To understand the resource constraints and potential risks to your project, identify the sub-tasks.
Prioritize each task/identify critical tasks to help you create realistic schedules that will allow you to reach realistic completion dates.
Monitor/control the project’s progress / Understand schedule variances if any
Use fast-tracking or crash duration
To determine the minimum time required to complete each activity, project managers use the Critical Path Method algorithm. What is a slack, you ask? It is a delay in one activity that does not cause delay in project completion. A Float is also a form of slack.
A Critical Path Method is often represented as a network diagram, which shows a sequence of activities that must be completed in order to complete the entire project. Once the activities have been arranged and the paths defined, we can determine the path that will take us the least time to complete the entire project.
Here are some important points to remember when you embark on a Critical Path Method.
More than one Critical Path is present
To meet the project completion deadline, it is important to consider all critical paths if there are more than one.
Project risks are high for several Critical Paths
This basically means that the success of the project is now dependent on those critical paths that make up their unique set. The complexity of these functions makes the process unpredictable, which can pose risks to its completion.
The Critical Path can change over the course of time
Let’s suppose that you initially thought the near-critical path was ten more days than the actual critical path, which was actually eleven days. Sometimes, an activity is completed a few days earlier than expected. It is important to keep the project plan updated with any changes.
Critical Chain Method
Another method for analyzing schedule networks is the critical Chain Method. This method primarily takes into account resource limitations, task dependencies, and buffers to create a project schedule. These variables are not taken into account in a critical path, but they are considered in a critical chain which makes it more reliable and can be used to meet the deadline. A critical chain method can be described as an updated version to a critical path. The high-risk activities are scheduled first in the early stages of the project. This allows them to be completed quickly and gives them buffers for any unexpected problems.
What is a buffer? Buffers are a safety net that protects the promise of project completion and eliminate delays.
What is the main purpose of the Critical Chain Method It reduces/eliminates any unnecessary slack and uncertainties in a project.
The following illustration shows six steps in a critical-chain method.
In the critical chain method, there are three types of buffers