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What is Critical Path?

The critical path in a project is the path that has the longest duration. The critical path is the string of activities that will delay the whole project if any one of them is delayed.

Critical Path Method(CPM) is the tool for keeping the project on track and will help analyze complex projects effectively. Critical path helps us to focus on essential activities which are critical to run the project. CPA(Critical Path Analysis) gives a very good basis for scheduling and monitoring for progress.

Following are the some of the important points to remember:

• The total project duration is equal to the critical path duration.

• The float for every activity on the critical path is zero and hence no delay is allowed for activities running on the critical path.

• Manager will know whether the activity is on the critical path or not, based on this information he/she can understand whether the delaying the activity will cause the project to be delayed or not.

• Manager will put good resources and prioritize the critical path activities.

Let us understand how to determine critical path in a network diagram below.

critical path

Determine critical path in a network diagram

• From the network diagram above there are total three paths.
• Determine duration of each of the paths.
• Select the path having the longest duration. (START-D-E-F-G-END)
• This path selected is referred as the critical path.

Path-1 : START-A-B-C-G-END duration = 10
Path-2 : START-D-E-F-G-END duration = 17
Path-3 : START-D-H-I-END duration = 11

➨Critical path here is the one having longest duration and hence Path-2 is the critical path.
➨Total project duration = 17

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