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Critical Path Method

Project planning tools refers to the various methods that project managers use while analyzing and controlling the flow of a project from the time the project starts until it ends. There are various methods that are used in project planning which include Critical Path Method (CPM), Project Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and the Ghant chart.

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Critical Path Method (CPM)

CPM is one of the methods used in managing complex projects and it shows all the activities that add up to make a project. It is usually in a flow diagram and it helps in showing the order in which the activities are going to be done and it shows the activities that need to be completed in order to start other activities, i.e. activities have to follow one another sequentially. It helps to show those activities which can be done simultaneously and help in saving time and resources. This can be done by crushing the projects. It also helps to show when additional resources are required. While using the CPM to determine the project time, you add all time in the entire path and the path with the highest time period is the critical path which gives the minimum time required to finish the project and which does not have a float (spare time). The paths which are not critical have spare (float) time and they do not give the minimum time required. While drawing a CPM, activities are shown by an arrow while events are shown by circles. For example,

The illustration above shows a CPM whereby the events have to happen sequentially. Delaying one activity delays all the other projects.  From the diagram, the minimum time required which is the time for completing the project is 126 days.

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Gantt Chart

It is a graphical representation of the time an activity is going to take and it is very useful in resource allocation and planning. It is usually in form of a bar chart and it shows the progress of the project.  It shows the starting time of terminal elements as well as the summary elements of any project. It helps in planning the projects that need to be completed first, it helps in the allocation of minimum resources such as labor and raw materials and it helps in determining the critical path of the project where you are top finish the project within the minimum period of time.

An illustration of Ghant Chart is given below

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The graph shows the time activities a – g are going to take. In this chart activity a takes four days, activity b takes 5.33 days and so on. This is a chart that shows how resources are going to be allocated to within the project.

Constructing the CPM is more easier that constructing the ghant chart. Therefore I would recommend the use of CPM because it allows for logical planning, controlling and scheduling of projects, it allows for long range planning of the projects,  it allows all those involved to have an overview of the entire project and it identifies the most critical activities which need to be done first.

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