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Decoding the Critical Path Analysis in Project Management


Critical Path Analysis (CPA) is one of the scheduling techniques which is used in project management. This technique helps to draw a network diagram, symbolizing the sequence of tasks required to complete a project. Project managers make use of CPA to establish timelines on the Gantt Chart. Furthermore, this scheduling technique helps to allocate resources optimally. Project Management Professionals gain insights into this technique through the PMP Training course.

What is Critical Path Analysis?

Critical Path Analysis, Critical Path Method
Critical Path Analysis

Critical Path Analysis is a method project managers use to draw a network diagram. This diagram represents the sequence of tasks required to complete a project. Allocating the time for each job helps assess the total time to finish a project. Implementing the critical path analysis helps to differentiate vital and non-critical tasks of a project. This helps find the longest path that passes through all the essential functions and identifies the fastest time to complete it. Project managers can easily understand this through the graphical representation of CPA.

Steps involved in Critical Path Analysis:

Before analysis, a project manager must ensure that all the tasks and their dependencies can be identified. Let us look at the step involved in analyzing the critical path.

Step 1: Defining the scope of the project

The first step in CPA is to define the scope of the project. In simple terms, a project manager is required to list out all the activities that are to be performed. This helps project managers to identify the dependent tasks of the project.

Step 2: Identifying the critical path

Listing out the activities and their dependencies helps to find the actions that cannot be started without completing the others. Project managers must draw the sequence of such activities known as the critical path. This path consists of all essential activities to be completed within the schedule to avoid project delays. Such actions need project managers’ supervision to prevent project disruptions.

Step 3: Drawing critical paths

The critical path can be easily represented on a network diagram. The diagram showcases various essential courses for completing a project. However, a project manager must choose a way that includes all vital activities. This path should be the longest, allowing a significant amount of time to finish a project.

Step 4: Estimating the duration

In this step, the project manager is required to estimate the time taken to complete each activity. In allocating the time, project managers must determine the earliest and latest possible start and end times for each activity.

Step 5: Calculating the float value

Float value refers to the difference between a particular activity’s latest start and earliest start times. Critical activities tend to have zero float time. As a result, such activities assist in determining the requirements to be completed sequentially. This helps in completing the project on time. Non-critical activities have a float value or slack time, which does not affect the results. As a result, such actions can be delayed without creating any ripples.

Step 6: Selecting the critical path

Documenting the above findings helps project managers to choose the most critical path of the activities. This path is the longest time for a project to be completed per the desired outcomes. A work plan can be quickly drawn from the identified critical way while eliminating non-critical activities.

It is important to note that critical paths may change over time. This can be due to various factors like changes in the requirements of clients or changes in government policies. Project managers are required to foresee such changes constantly.

Advantages of Critical Path Analysis:

PMP-certified project managers follow critical path analysis techniques while handling complex projects. With the help of a diagram, project managers can quickly determine the schedule and costs required to complete a task. Let us have a look at some of the benefits.

  • Critical path analysis can be represented on a diagram. This helps project managers and the project team to understand the sequence of activities to be performed easily.
  • Project delays can be overcome by following critical path analysis. The essential activities of a project are completed on time, saving ample time for other tasks.
  • Project managers can quickly identify the actual and planned progress through critical path analysis. This helps in taking immediate action to bring a project back on track.
  • Dependent tasks can be easily identified through a network diagram. This assists project managers in sequencing critical activities and their dependencies.
  • The major advantage of implementing CPA is to assist PMP-certified project managers in completing a project within the given schedule.


PMP-certified project managers prefer CPA as one of the essential scheduling techniques even today. Applying this method has benefitted several organizations in completing a project on time. Aspiring project managers can take up PMP Certification Training to learn more about critical path analysis. This, in turn, helps in earning the most prestigious certification of PMP.  

Posted in Project Management

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