Critical Path Method (CPM) is a method for coordinating and controlling activities needed in completing a project. It uses a chart that consists of lines and circles to represent activities and phases of the project. CPM maps out all steps required to complete a project and identify timelines for each priority and sequence involved. It is an ideal pathway for projects even though it has its own share of weaknesses.
CPM makes project planning easier. The CPM chart comes in handy when you are identifying relationships between activities and phases of the project, thus providing answers to questions such as when to complete each activity and which tasks should precede and succeed what activities. Therefore, by determining the time it takes to complete the whole project, CPM assists you in decision making. If some delays occur, CPM can assist you in deciding how to delay tasks without affecting the completion time to ensure smooth running of the project.
CPM takes into consideration what is needed to complete a project in the most efficient and organised way as possible. It considers time, identifies every procedure needed from beginning to end and prioritises actions. However, it doesn't factor in how resources are applied. For instance, you may project a particular phase of production to take four months, based on having five freezers. But you may not know the cost of the freezer, as well as if the client has the resources to afford five freezers. Later, the project may stall if resources fail to match the CPM map.
CPM works better if your project is well-defined and stable. When you know your goals, time and resource allocation, you can create a solid plan using CPM. However, on complicated manufacturing, engineering and business projects, diagrams become large and detailed. The larger and detailed the project, the more mapping is needed. Therefore, when resources change or project plans are not stable, CPM can become ineffective and difficult to manage.
By identifying projects that can be carried out simultaneously, CPM can help you reduce the overall time of the project. It enables you to reduce the project length by optimising the critical path and using compression techniques as applicable. CPM gains time lost in project delays by assisting you to better understand the tasks and their dependencies, which in turn can be made into overlapping activities. Ultimately, it allows you to maximise efficiency and reduce overall cost by allocating resources appropriately.