Help for Planners to Understand and Communicate Critical Paths

October 16, 2014

When building Integrated Master Schedules (IMS) and when reporting progress during program execution, the planner needs to quickly identify and communicate the critical paths to key milestones. Of course planners using Microsoft Project can use deadlines or constraints to show the total slack to a milestone in the schedule. Using the standard layout in Microsoft Project can be hard to see on what predecessors to a key milestone are driving the critical path. Also it would be helpful to see the total slack on all the predecessors to see what other tasks are on near critical paths. Therefore, OPDEC created the Microsoft Project Add-In Utility of “Navigate Tasks.” Below is a quick two-minute demo of how to use the utility.

Click here for information and FREE download of the IPM utility

Once the planner has identified and reviewed for validity the next step is to communicate the critical path information to the project team to determine any steps needed to midigate. Also critical paths need to be communicated to management and customers. Critical path charts are needed to quickly and clearly communicate this information. Screen shots from Microsoft Project can take some time to get the information needed to display and do not look professional for customer briefings. Depending on the size of the project and the number of milestones that need to report critical path information, this could take a lot of the planners’ time. To help the planners with this, we have a tool that quickly and clearly creates critical path charts. Our tool shows a graphic display of the top 5 critical paths and the integration points. It identifies what milestone is being measured and shows the total float (slack) for each path. To show how quick and clear our critical path charts are, please watch the demo below.

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