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What is Critical Path in Project Management?

What is critical path in project management? Critical path is a method for modeling projects where you input all necessary factors involved in your project and output the optimal timeline for completing it.

Factors to input in your model include: time estimates, task dependencies, milestones or deliverables, and any hard deadlines set by clients or stakeholders.

Screenshot of Critical Path within Wrike software
An example of a Critical Path within Wrike’s Timeline view.

The foundation of both critical path analysis and critical path method is the idea that you cannot start a task until a previous one has been finished. When you string these dependent tasks together from start to finish you get your critical path.

Reviewing this critical path of events allows project managers to prioritize and allocate resources to get the most important tasks done, and reschedule any lower priority jobs that may be clogging up your team’s bandwidth. This way, changes can be made to optimize work without delaying the end results.

A related concept here is PERT.

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