Identifying the critical path

You can see the critical path best if you use the Gantt Chart Wizard to display the critical path in red.

No Undo button exists for the changes that Project applies to your schedule when you use the Gantt Chart Wizard. Save your project before you start. If you don't like what you get at the end, close your project without saving it and reopen it.

This discussion of the Gantt Chart Wizard focuses on displaying the critical path; see Chapter 8 for a more complete description of that wizard.

Open the View menu, and select Gantt Chart. Then click the Gantt Chart Wizard button on the Formatting toolbar (the button at the right edge), or choose FormatO Gantt Chart Wizard. The first Gantt Chart Wizard dialog box welcomes you to the Gantt Chart Wizard. Click Next to move on to the next Gantt Chart Wizard dialog box, as shown in Figure 9-13. Then select Critical path to describe the kind of information that you want to display on the Gantt Chart.

Figure 9-13: Select the Critical path option button when you run the Gantt Chart Wizard.

Subsequent dialog boxes in the Gantt Chart Wizard enable you to select other types of information to display, such as resources or dates on Gantt bars and links between dependent tasks. These other choices that you can make while running the Gantt Chart Wizard are a matter of personal preference. When you finish, click the Format It button and then click the Exit Wizard button.

When you view the Gantt Chart, all tasks in the project still appear, but tasks on the critical path appear in red.

Note After you use the Gantt Chart Wizard, you can switch to any view and the critical tasks appear in red. Try the Network Diagram view, for example; the critical tasks appear in red boxes.

You can use formatting to identify critical tasks. When you apply formatting to critical and noncritical tasks, this formatting appears in all views in which you can see task bars. The formatting identifies critical tasks with a Yes in or near the bar of the tasks and noncritical tasks with a No.

To apply formatting, follow these steps:

1. Display the Gantt Chart view.

2. Choose FormatOBar Styles; Project displays the Bar Styles dialog box.

3. Select Task from the list at the top of the Bar Styles dialog box to apply formatting to noncritical tasks.

4. Click the Text tab at the bottom of the dialog box.

5. Select a position for the formatting: Left, Right, Top, Bottom, or Inside. When you click a position, a list box arrow appears.

6. Click the list box arrow and scroll to select Critical, as shown in Figure 9-14.

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Figure 9-14: Use the Text tab of the Bar Styles dialog box to apply formatting that distinguishes critical from noncritical tasks.

After you apply the formatting, the Gantt Chart shows critical and noncritical tasks, as shown in Figure 9-15. Because I placed critical information inside task bars, No appears inside noncritical tasks and Yes appears inside critical tasks.

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Figure 9-15: The formatting in this Gantt Chart identifies critical and noncritical tasks.

Even with formatting, this approach to identifying the critical path can be cumbersome if your project contains many tasks. Alternatively, you can identify the critical path by filtering for it. As Chapter 7 explains, you can apply the Critical filter to any task view to display only critical tasks, as shown in Figure 9-16. To apply the filter, display the view that you want to filter and choose ProjectOFiltered forOCritical or choose Critical from the Filter list box on the Formatting toolbar.

Figure 9-16: Filter to display only critical tasks.

Tip Filtering is an effective tool to display only certain aspects of the project, but some times you need to view all the tasks in your project and still identify the critical * ones. If you use formatting (your own or the formatting that is supplied by the Gantt Chart Wizard), you can always identify critical and noncritical tasks — even if you are viewing all the tasks in your project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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