Critical Path Method

What is it?

Critical path method (CPM) is a technique for analysing the work to be done on a project into identifiable tasks at an early stage.

When to use it

CPM can be used on any project (large or small) which has a definable beginning and end and involves the performance of a number of distinct but interrelated tasks, according to a logical sequence of work flow.

What does it achieve?

CPM enables alternative courses of action to be examined both initially and while a project is under way. As a result communications are improved, trouble-spots are highlighted for special attention at the right time, and effort is concentrated on the time critical tasks.

Key steps

Stage 1

  • List activities
  • Note constraints
  • Draw network

Stage 2

  • Add time estimates for activities
  • Calculate float, critical path, etc.

Stage 3

  • Agree Network and target dates
  • Modify network if necessary
  • Distribute networks or issue data

Stage 4

  • Monitor progress
  • Initiate remedial action as necessary.

Typical Critical Path Network diagram