Critical path refer to a set of project activities or tasks organized into the longest sequence which is to be fulfilled on time during the project lifecycle, with no delay and failure. In a project breakdown design critical path includes tasks that all together form the longest duration of the project. Critical path tasks can belong to the same or different structural levels in one and the same project breakdown.
There are 8 steps for defining critical path tasks in a project breakdown structure:
- Divide the project into high-level activities that characterize key stages in project implementation
- Set objectives for those activities
- Use milestones for activity status tracking
- Divide every activity into a series of tasks and also sub-tasks if needed
- Estimate time, cost and money per task and sub-task
- Identify tasks and sub-tasks that have the longest durations
- Combine these tasks into a sequence that forms the longest duration of the project
- Use this sequence as critical path for the project
Critical path is best displayed through using a network diagram. Such a diagram shows a flow of tasks and sub-tasks that form the longest duration of a related project. Relationships between critical path tasks are included in the network. If at least one of the tasks/sub-tasks is delayed, the entire project is delayed as well.