A project involves many activities, each of which has a different time frame. Critical path analysis is a project management technique that helps managers plan the best way to schedule the various project activities so as to complete the project in the shortest possible time. This technique has some advantages as well as disadvantages.
Critical path analysis helps managers better organise the project activities. They have to make a list of all the activities, how they are connected and what is the time required to complete each activity. This sort of listing helps them better organise the project management and understand the time constraints they will run into.
In a project whose success is dependent upon timely completion, as construction industry projects generally are, the critical path analysis helps better manage the time constraints. There are a few critical events that impact the project success and knowing the time frame for such events and scheduling them right helps managers better manage project time constraints.
Since critical path analysis splits up a project in terms of the different activities it entails, this provides a simple, overall view of the entire project. It is easier for managers to notice if there are variations in the times taken for specific activities compared with the initial estimate. For instance, if one project activity is to get government approval for the building, and the initial estimate for this was one month, managers can estimate the effect on the entire project if there is a change in the actual time frame for this activity.
As projects get larger with multiple activities involved, coming up with a critical path analysis for the project gets more complicated. Managers will have to identify all aspects of the project and their time frames and dependencies. This could be done with the help of computer programs, but the output from the computer program will only be as good as the input that managers provide. If they don't provide comprehensive input, the output from the computer is not likely to be accurate either.