What is Critical Path in Project Management?

Critical Path Method is an important tool in project management. To make an effective plan it is better to incorporate critical path methods in project management. The critical path method gives a deeper insight into resource utilization in the scheduling of the project tasks and activities. It helps to determine the stretch of path between the activities and tasks depending or related to each other. The key variables to plot the critical path are;

  • Tasklist and important activities
  • To know how one task is related to the other i.e.; dependencies
  • Estimated time duration required to finish each task
  • Scheduling with CPM calculator

By using these variables, a critical path is defined. The critical path can be illustrated by graphical representation or also by some special computer tools. Graphical representation gives the information about the pattern of the project and if not, the suitable path appears, you can make an alternative plan. Even starting and finishing dates of the activities can be adjusted in reference to the critical path. The critical path is used along with the program evaluation and review technique.

You can read a related article and also get the template: Milestone Schedule Timeline 

How to Project Schedule through Critical Path in Project Management Excel?

Using critical path analysis is not as difficult as it looks. We will take you to a brief guide to proficiently incorporate critical path analysis in your project schedule.

  • You need to start with a clear vision of the project. Having a self-explanatory project’s scope helps a lot. Be clear about the list of tasks you need to perform in a project, set up a time frame for all these tasks, and see how one is related to the other. Knowing the dependencies will give you a strong grip on the project.
  • Next is to identify the critical path of these tasks. It is a graph plotted for the activities that you need to perform and how the activities are aligned.
  • There are different paths that can be drawn in a single project. For example, task A is related to C, and then task A can also be related to F. So, there are multiple paths running together in a project. Your efficiency will define your command over the project.

Some important terminologies and abbreviations that you need to know before starting critical path analysis are as follow;

The critical path in Project Management Excel: Schedule of activities stating their starting and finishing date.

Duration: Time required to finish off a particular task.


ES (Early Start): The possible earliest date to begin an activity/ task.

EF (Early Finish): Maximum possible date to finish an activity/ task.

Lag: The time between one activity to finish and the other to start.

FF (Free-Float): Days that you can easily invest in an activity to finish flexibly.

Predecessor:  The activity just before the other one

Successor: The immediate activity after the one.

LF (Late Finish):   Latest need to finish an activity.

LS (Late Start): Maximum possible time with delay to start an activity.

TF (Total Float): The number of days that you can invest to finish a task.

You can read a related article and also get the template: Configuration Management Plan Template

Critical Path Analysis with Gantt Chart

Gantt chart represents the resources in a project and also used to track the performance of the tasks and staff performance as well within a given timeline and critical path analysis help to determine the duration of the expected task on the basis of the estimated timeline of the tasks to get the best results.

Critical Path in Project Management

Critical Path Calculator Excel

Following are the steps to calculate the Critical Path in Project Management:

  1. Collection of Tasks

Collection of WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) to gain the set goals.

  1. Identification of related tasks

Identification of tasks to check relation with other tasks to check the dependencies with other tasks before startup.

  1. CPM Diagram

Critical path chart and diagram represent the order of activities.

  1. Creation

This approach lets managers know the duration of the activities.

  1. Timeline Estimation (Forward Pass)

EF = ES + t (t represents the time duration of tasks). ES is the Earlier start of the activities and EF is the earliest end finish of the tasks.

  1. Duration Analysis (Backward Pass)

LS = LF – t (t represent the activity time duration)

You can read a related article and also get the template: Milestone Chart Excel Template

Event Management Critical Path Template

In event management, the critical path template is used to identify the sequence of the activities for the completion of an event project.


You can also read the HR-related articles for Project Management: HR Templates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *