Using Multiple Critical Paths

Project enables you to view more than one critical path in a project. This feature comes in handy when you have lots of tasks that are driving other tasks and you want to find out which ones are truly critical to finishing the network of tasks on time.

By default, when you view only one critical path, you're viewing the tasks that must be completed to finish the project on time. These tasks have no total slack. (Total slack is the amount of time that you can delay a task without delaying the completion of the project.)

Suppose, however, that your project contains lots of subtasks, and within the sub-tasks you have dependencies. You may start wondering, within a given network of tasks, which ones are really critical. In this case, view your project with multiple critical paths, where Project displays a separate critical path for each network of tasks.

Consider the project that is shown in Figure 9-18. In this figure, you see the following four networks of tasks:

♦ Network 4: Task IDs 15 through 18

The critical path for the project appears with a cross-hatched pattern (on-screen, it's also red) and revolves around the tasks in the first two networks.

Figure 9-18: This project contains four networks of tasks.

When you display multiple critical paths, you see a critical path for each network of tasks, as shown in Figure 9-19. For each unique task, Project sets its late finish date equal to its early finish date. When a task has no links, it is critical because its late finish is equal to its early finish. If a network of tasks contains slack, like Network 3, some tasks are not critical while others are critical. When you view multiple critical paths, you can determine which tasks within a network of tasks must be completed on time to avoid delaying the network.

Figure 9-19: When you view multiple critical paths, you see the critical tasks within each network of tasks in your project.

By default, Project displays only one critical path, but you can change this default. Choose ToolsOOptions and click the Calculation tab to display the dialog box that is shown in Figure 9-20. Select the Calculate multiple critical paths check box. and click OK.

Options

View General Edit

Save | Interface | Security

Schedule Calcuiafcion Spelling

CalciJation options for Microsoft Office Project Calculation mode: Automat*: C i4anual

Calculaie: (* All open projects C Active project

Calcdation options for 'multiple critical paths-2Q02,mPP' F Updating task status updates resource status f Move end of completed parts after status date back to status date And ¡rave start of rsr-nahhg parts h =cu to status date Move start of remaining parts before status dote forward to status date r And rove end of roniple-fed parrs; Far v.-1 • status date Earned j£alue. ■■ J V Edits to total tasfc.% complete wil be spread to the status date F Inserted projects are calculated ike summary tasks [7 Actual costs are atovays calculated by Microsoft Office Project I Edits to rota! siajai cost wil be spre ad to '1 - cratlis da^B

Default [ixed costs accrual: [prorated

[^Calculate rrajftiple critic a | pathsj Tasks are critical if slack is less than or equal to a*

Calendar |

Collaborate

Calculate tow

Set as Default | Caned |

Figure 9-20: Display multiple critical paths within a project from the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box.

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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