The Critical Path Method

One of the most common outcomes of the schedule network is the identification of one or more critical paths. Right at this point, let us say that the critical path, and in fact there may be more than one critical path through the network, may not be the most important path for purposes of business value or functionality. However, the critical path establishes the length of the network and therefore sets the overall duration of the project. If there is any schedule acceleration or delay along the critical path, then the project will finish earlier or later, respectively.

As a practical example of the difference between paths that are critical and functionally important, the author was once associated with a project to build an Intelsat ground station. The business value of the ground station was obviously to be able to communicate effectively with the Intelsat system and then make connectivity to the terrestrial communications system. However, the critical path on the project network schedule was the installation and operation of a voice intercom between the antenna pedestal and the ground communications control facility. The vendor selected for this intercom capability in effect set the critical path, though I am sure that all would agree that the intercom was not the most important functionality of the system. Nevertheless, the project was not complete until the intercom was delivered; any delay by the vendor (there was none) was a delay on the whole 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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