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Critical Path

I'm struggling with the application and calculation of critical path theory.... it's just not jiving for some reason! Looking for some mentoring and/or an opportunity to shadow on how this is developed and applied.

Thank you for your time and consideration with this request. I'm just trying to understand and master this process.


Steven Draheim
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If you were to draw out a schedule of every deliverable on your plan with a sequential series of events, the longest set of events is the critical path. Generally there are a lot of things going on in parallel, with some interaction between the schedules. How all of that fits together into the longest sequence of events is the critical path.

You can find time savings in other places, and it will decrease the overall cost of your project, but you will not finish any sooner unless it impacts the critical path.
If you need more time for a task on the critical path, the project’s completion date will move forward with that amount of time. However, when you can complete a task on the critical path earlier than expected, this doesn’t mean that the project will finish earlier with the same amount, because a parallel path now might become the critical path.

Microsoft Project can calculate the critical path for your schedule.
I agree with Tim on MS Project to calculate the critical path. I use MS Project and it's good in identifying the critical path.
I'm not sure that "critical path theory" even exists. The math is straightforward....

[The definition of “Critical Path” has evolved with the introduction of new concepts and scheduling methods over the years.  The earliest definitions – based on robust schedule networks containing only finish-to-start relationships, with no constraints, no lags, and no calendars – were characterized by the following common elements:

- It contained those activities whose durations determined the overall duration of the project (i.e. the “driving path to project completion.”)
- It contained those activities that, if allowed to slip, would extend the duration of the project (hence the word “Critical”.)
- Its activities comprised the “longest path” through the schedule network. That is, the arithmetic sum of their durations was greater than the corresponding sum for any other path in the network.
- After completion of the forward and backward passes, its activities could be readily identified by a shared Total Float value of zero.  Thus TF=0 became the primary criterion for identifying the Critical Path.

With the incorporation of non-FS relationships, early and late constraints, lags, and calendars in modern project scheduling software, these observations are no longer consistent with each other nor sometimes with a single logic path.  Some of these inconsistencies are addressed later in this article.  Only the first of these defining elements (“driving path to project completion”) has been generally retained in recent scheduling standards and guidance publications, though implied equivalence of the others continues to persist among some professionals.]
(From TomsBlog - "Don't Confuse Critical Tasks with Critical Paths in Project Schedules.")

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