Critical Path Method: Fast-Tracking a Project’s Success

Discover CPM Benefits for Construction Projects and Fast-Tracking Insights

Construction projects are a complex activity and require a great deal of planning before the project starts, during the build phase, and handover. Project managers can use the critical path method (CPM) to plan out all the tasks and sequences to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

CPM in Construction

A typical project schedule in construction includes numerous dependent tasks and activities across different contractors. While many activities do not affect the overall project schedule, some may influence the course of completion. One slip in meeting the completion date can spearhead a delay of the entire project: every activity, dependent or interdependent, matters. One setback can postpone the whole series of successor tasks. It’s fundamental to identify each task, the requisite time, and the interrelations for timely and successful construction delivery.

The Critical Path for Tasks

Tasks are inherently interdependent, meaning the execution of specific tasks may depend on another task’s commencement or completion. Now, all functions in a critical path are crucial. If any task in the course lags, the whole project suffers a schedule slip. At the same time, some activities in the critical path do not affect the project’s end date. These can have an allowance of a float or slack. Additionally, a project schedule may have more than one critical path. A WBS or work breakdown structure is a valuable way to comprehend the complexities.

WBS and Critical Path

Knowing the critical path is essential as it allows the project managers to:

  • Deploy suitable resources like workforce and equipment
  • Modify dependencies
  • Revise start dates of dependent tasks
  • Ensure the on-time completion of critical tasks

As the project progresses, many reasons may impact the critical path, such as work progress, completion, or delay in the previously identified essential tasks, or more. The project manager should closely observe the critical path within the schedule for such changes to avoid any increased risks.

The Linarc scheduler offers a powerful built-in critical path calculator. It dynamically computes the critical paths and shows them on the scheduler interface. Project managers can manually initiate the critical path calculation whenever they change the schedule, add new items, or mark the progress of tasks.

Critical Path Method in Projects

Critical path analysis is helpful for projects, including construction, software development, research projects, product development, or any other project that involves interdependent activities. 

Tasks are interdependent, such that the execution of specific tasks must wait for the commencement or completion of another task or other tasks. Predecessors are the schedule elements that need to be either started or completed before you can start a specific task. You can specify the predecessor tasks and the dependency relationship in each dependent task’s ‘Dependencies’ column. In such a manner, a project scope can define all the tasks that are needed to deliver the project.

critical path method

Benefits of Using the Critical Path Method

CPM can provide valuable insights into planning projects, allocating resources, and scheduling tasks. Here are some advantages of using this method:

Improves Planning

CPM can compare the planned progress of the project with actual progress. The program can identify completed tasks and assess the duration of the remaining activities. With the results, you can manage and make changes to the schedule. Also, the data from one project can help plan the other projects better. You can efficiently revise schedules and reprioritize tasks using the critical path method.

Effective Resource Management

CPM gives clear visibility of the completed and pending tasks with high priority. The project managers can use this information to optimize resource allocations in response to tasks’ priority on the schedule.

Helps Avoid Delays

The critical path method displays the activities, duration, and sequence. With a better understanding of the project’s timelines, you can modify the schedule to avoid delays or reduce the time of some tasks.

CPM is a vital component of the project schedule. It must be updated or improved to keep the on-time schedule as the project progresses. However, manually calculating critical paths is a time-consuming and complicated activity, especially for large-scale projects. It also needs to be flexible to accommodate any delays or changes in the plan. There can be multiple critical paths for a project. Choosing the best one for projects can be overwhelming when handling large projects. Linarc’s powerful scheduler boasts a critical path calculator that automatically identifies the essential tasks in a schedule and shows them both on the list view and Gantt charts.

Linarc’s CPM scheduling program benefits are a fitting solution for more than one reason, such as:

  • Organizing all types of projects, large or small
  • Identifying each activity’s start and end time and their slack or lag time
  • Visibility of all activities, dependencies, and schedule changes allows proper planning and scheduling of the project
  • Enabling the project manager to make changes in the critical path quickly
  • Reducing the project duration and its cost and increasing productivity

For a live demo of Linarc CPM Scheduler, book a session today and start fast-tracking a project more efficiently.