Critical Path Analysis

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Description of Critical Path Analysis. Explanation.


Definition Critical Path Analysis. Description.

Critical Path Analysis (CPA) is a type of network analysis planning technique that is used to plan and manage complicated projects or business processes.

CPA is a form of network analysis used to decide the continuous chain of operations critical to completion of a project or business process by its scheduled completion date.

It was developed in the 1950s to manage large defense projects.


Applications of Critical Path Analysis

  • Lay out all tasks that have to be completed as part of a complex project
  • Basis for preparation of detailed schedules and resource planning
  • Monitor the progress of goals
  • Signal the need for remedial action in case of problems in the project. CPA shows diagrammatically the interrelations in sequence of all the activities in a project / business process in such a way as to highlight, which are critical for the due performance of the overall work.

Critical Path Analysis versus Gantt Charts

Advantages of CPA over Gantt Charts:

  • CPA identifies tasks, which have to be completed on time
  • CPA identifies tasks, which can be delayed without effecting the project completion time
  • CPA identifies the minimum time required to finish a project
  • CPA identifies which tasks one needs to focus on to speed op a project.

Disadvantages of CPA compared to Gantt Charts:

  • CPA charts has no timeline, so the relation of tasks to time is less obvious.

  • CPA charts are more difficult to understand (especially for beginners)

How to Perform a Critical Path Analysis. Drawing a CPA Chart

  1. List all activities in a project / process

  2. Determine the earliest start date

  3. Determine the required time for each task

  4. Determine which tasks can be run in parallel and which ones are sequential.

  5. Plot the activities in a CPA Chart, representing their logical relations by symbols.

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Compare also: Gantt Chart  |  Business Process Modeling  |  Milestone  |  PRINCE2  |  OPM3  |  MSP  |  PMMM

Special Interest Group Leader
Syed Arifulla MBA, PMP, Prince2
Project Manager


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