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Critical Path Method (CPM) Project Management is a step-by-step project management process in which the project is split into the most critical, smaller tasks that progress from idea generation to project completion. A hallmark of CPM involves mapping out the most important tasks in any project and using that to estimate the project completion date. Its history can be traced back to the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s.
Description of Critical Path Method Project Management
There are six steps to follow when using CPM Project Management:
- Step 1: Create a Work Breakdown Structure. At the beginning of the project, the project team should meet to create a list of high-level tasks that must be completed in order to finish the project. Detailed activities are not included in CPM Project Management. After identifying the tasks, the team should group the activities into reasonable blocks to create the project timeline.
- Step 2: Establish A Timeline. This step is especially important if one task is dependent on the completion of the prior task in order to begin. Identify who is responsible for each stage and ensure that each team member is aware of who runs the task that precedes, follows or occurs simultaneously with their own. This will help to ensure accountability and prompt project progress. Each team member should also have knowledge of what task comes before their own so the correct order is followed.
- Step 3: Chart the Project. The network diagram or the critical path analysis (CPA) chart is a visual representation of the task order. It specifically depicts which tasks depend on the completion of another.
- Step 4: Project Task Completion Times. An experienced team member can help estimate the time needed to finish each step in the process. Alternatively, the project team use a best case/worst case estimation method and create an approximate completion window from there.
- Step 5: Identify the Critical Path. By examining the chart created in Step 3, the team can identify the sequence of tasks that take the longest time to complete. This will be the critical path. In the event that there are multiple critical paths, it is likely that there might be a change in the project schedule.
- Step 6: Update the Critical Path Diagram. As the project progresses, actual completion times can replace the estimates, creating a more realistic timeline. During this time, a more realistic time frame may emerge and give the team more accurate results.
Praxie's Online Critical Path Method Project Management Tools & Templates
Critical Path Method Project Management is a step-by-step project management process in which the project is split into the most critical, smaller tasks that progress from idea generation to project completion. The Critical Path Method helps to determine which tasks are critical (zero slack time) and which tasks can be delayed (and for how long). This is an important tool for project managers to prevent time-frame problems and project bottlenecks.
A CPM can be drawn by hand or can be created on the computer using Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel or other software programs that enable you to create visual representations. Get started with our Critical Path Method Project Management template.
How to use it:
- Complete your project’s basic information.
- List your project’s tasks and the times requested to establish a timeline.
- Review the projected timeline and make updates for more accurate results.
Unlike most traditional Critical Path Method Project Management techniques, Praxie’s online Critical Path Method tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.