Project management can seem overwhelming in its complexity, especially when managing multiple projects and deadlines, which has become the new norm for project managers in the workplace. Numerous project managers are drowning in paperwork, sapping their crucial time and energy. Fortunately, there is software available to make it easier to prioritize your projects by task, timeline, and crunch time. By employing Critical Path project management software, you will get to define which specific activities within a project should take precedent. Furthermore, you will be able to approach each task with undivided attention.
What Is Critical Path Analysis?
Critical Path Analysis is a technique that enables project managers to map out every critical task to conclude a project successfully. These tasks are critical activities as they each require a certain amount of time necessary for completion. The delay of one activity can delay another as the tasks are dependent on each other. Using the critical path technique, you can set a realistic deadline for a project and track its progress along the way.
How Critical Path Analysis Works
Businesses take on projects that are complex and involve notable investment and risk. While the risk and complexity heighten, it becomes imperative to identify the relationships between the critical activities. The technique identifies the sequence of crucial and connected steps that comprise a work plan from start to finish. You can outline a model of the project to include the following activities:
- A list of all activities needed to conclude the project
- Which activities can run in parallel
- The duration that every task will take to complete
- The resources needed to execute a project
- A chronology of activities, scheduling, and timings involved
- The dependencies between the activities
Using the outlined information, you will use the technique to calculate the lengthy path of planned tasks to the project’s conclusion. You can then calculate the earliest and latest time that you should start and finish each task so as not to make the project run longer than you need. Here, you will identify which activities are “critical”, which means those on the longest path. At the same time, determine which activities have “total float”, which refers to the activities that can be put off without making the project longer.
What is Critical Path Project Management Software?
Time is an essential constraint of projects; hence critical path software has become popular in project management. A necessary path project management software is an visual platform and workspace that merges diagramming, workflow visualization, and collaboration to stimulate comprehension and drive innovation. The software works as a planning tool that arranges tasks, itemizes the chronology of activities, and other features that go into creating a plan.
How to Use a Critical Path Project Management Software
The concept behind the critical path analysis technique is that you cannot start some activities until others are finished. At a glance, it entails the following elements:
Drawing a Critical Path Analysis Chart
Network diagrams can be beneficial in project management. Using the software, you will be able to construct a Gantt Chart. Essentially, a Gantt chart is a graphical depiction of a project schedule that consists of a bar chart that displays the start and finish dates of several tasks and aspects of a project. A distinctly defined critical path assists project managers to efficiently manage expectations and deadlines from the outset of the project. Furthermore, that can help detect potential bottlenecks, slack task time or additional time to complete a task, critical activities that you must execute on time, and noncritical activities that are OK to delay a little.
If you want to avoid bottlenecks as early as possible, you should link all your dependent tasks. Courtesy of the Critical path project management software, you can link your dependent activities on the Gantt chart by drawing one onto the other. Afterward, you can define the type of dependency that lies between the various projects.
Determine the Project Baseline
After you have finished making your project schedule, complete with deadlines and cost, you can set your final deadline. The purpose of a project baseline is to allow you to capture your data and, as a result, enable you to use it to compare against your actual progress. Using the Gantt software, you can come up with a baseline for your project. From that baseline, you can add the start and completion due date to the task. Using the planned start and end dates, you can keep track of whether you’re on target or not.
Set A Critical Path
In project management, it is essential to calculate a critical path. Using a software tool, you can easily subtract the start and end date. Furthermore, the software has essential filters that help you know what tasks you must complete to successfully accomplish the project.
Get Your Overview with a Dashboard
Dashboards are imperative in project management. A project management dashboard displays all the key performance indicators such as metrics, stats, and insights specific to the project. The dashboard has proven to be imperative to individual departments to monitor the success of their projects and campaigns and spot past or present trends. Other than that, the departments can generate actionable insights, courtesy of the dashboard.
Incorporate Formulas into Shapes for an Automated Critical Path Experience
Critical path project management software has easy-to-use formulas that enable an automated critical path experience for super-easy managerial times. Aside from that, this software allows project managers to add procedures and custom data fields to visualize and measure progress.
Must-Have Features of A Critical Path Project Management Software
If you plan on keeping in time with your schedule, you should consider a dashboard. A dashboard acts as a monitoring tool for various departments within a business to track which tasks are progressing and adjust to achieve project targets. Nevertheless, a dashboard has to satisfy certain features. A project management dashboard’s essence is to gather data from all the data points and, subsequently, report.
As a result, all departments in a business can be sure they have an up-to-date status on what’s going on with their running project. For a project dashboard to fulfill its role, it must possess plenty of clarity, providing you with a clear overall picture of requirements. Dashboards should deliver actionable insights in simple and easy to comprehend format, making the tasks easy to understand and implement.
Below are some of the enlisted benefits of using a project management dashboard:
- Increased data visibility
- Actionable insights
In the dashboard, it is vital to put metrics such as resource allocation, milestone tracking, progress reports and status, and a task status that allows departments to look at the status of tasks related to the project.
Critical Path Project Management Dependencies
In project management, dependencies refer to the relationships between individual tasks in a project. There are some tasks that you must complete before moving on to the following or succeeding tasks. For example, you cannot build a prototype product (succeeding task) without an accurate drawing (preceding task) of it. Primary and succeeding tasks are sequenced according to their dependencies for each other. Using a critical path analysis software, you can identify which of the four types of project planning dependencies your tasks fall into. It may be a Finish-to-start, Finish-to-finish, Start-to-start, or a Start-to-finish dependency.
It may also fall under categories such as Logical planning dependencies, Resource-based planning dependencies, or a Preference planning dependency. Dependencies impact scheduling and resource activities. By incorporating a critical path software, you will easily understand these relationships when looking for possibilities to elevate and upgrade the project schedule.
Live Data Feature
At times, you can look at outdated data, making things difficult to move forward and progress, especially in project management. Therefore, you should always look for cloud-based critical path analysis software so that you can efficiently and effectively keep track of the project as you’re always seeing it as it currently is, updating in real-time.
Planned Vs Actuals
Proper planning is essential for the execution of your project. Typically, you should plan activities in chronological order as it provides you an outline of the start and end date of tasks, dependencies, assignees, and even each task’s duration. It is imperative to keep track of these plans simultaneously with the actual events on the ground.
By incorporating critical path analysis software, you get to keep track of the progress across the various tasks in real-time by having a quick view of how far through a project you are.
A project baseline is regarded as the starting point for your project plan. Essentially, a baseline is a fixed reference point to measure and compare your project’s progress against. Using this feature, the software can efficiently map out all the work required to complete the project. Project managers can benefit from this feature by analyzing project trends and forecasting whether a project is expected to bump into future problems.
Benefits Of A Critical Path Management Software
There are numerous untapped benefits that a project manager can enjoy from such software:
One of the most imperative aspects of project management is timing. The tasks to be performed all consume a considerable amount of time as they may be labor-intensive. Identifying and outlining which tasks should be prioritized and how dependable they are can be such a tiresome task. Therefore, critical path analysis software would come in handy in such a situation. The tool allows you to identify which activities should take precedent over the other by a click of the button.
Proper Planning And Managing
A critical path analysis software allows you to compare the actual plans and the planned ones. Hence, you can compare the progress of each task. Using the software, you can quickly identify tasks that have already been completed and predict the remaining duration for tasks in progress. Besides that, you can also map out parallel tasks or jobs in sequence while adjusting any future events plans.
Critical Path Management Software Provides Improved Resource Management
The critical path provides project managers with a clear direction and enhanced visibility into what must happen next, what is needed to execute a task, and who needs to do it. Managing various resources can make or break the success of a project. Thankfully, a critical path software allows the manager to plan and allocate the various business resources effectively.
Kanban for Critical Path Project Management
Calculating a critical path requires multiple process variables, time, and skill. You will undoubtedly need critical path software to help you navigate each project’s complex metrics. A critical path software will enable you to manage and monitor the project’s achievements. Furthermore, it will allow you to identify where remedial action is needed. It can help you develop, test, and ensure that your plan is fit for the project at hand. It’s evident that it will improve team productivity by guiding you on deploying resources in the best possible method to conclude projects.
If you’ve been wondering how you can streamline your project’s progress, you can take advantage of a virtual Kanban tool and use it as your critical path analysis software to track the project’s development. It has all the features a critical path management software should have and it makes project management easier. If you would like to find out more about how Kanban Zone can help your project management, sign up to take advantage of our free trial.