Objective: Understand and interpret a critical path analysis.
- Perform a critical path analysis.
- Understand the relationship between planning tools and project outcomes.
SchuffWorld (SW), the digital marketing division of SchuffInternational (a subsidiary of the much larger SchuffCorp), has decided to select a new CRM for online lead tracking and management. The new system will allow the company to track digital marketing campaigns, perform lead scoring, and provide reporting to management. The new system must work with SW’s existing systems. The actual implementation is part of a different project – this phase only concerns selection.
Step 1: Critical Path Analysis (25 minutes)
Times and activity dependencies have been assigned to all activities in the project as follows:
|Activity||Description||Immediate Predecessor(s)||Time (weeks)|
|A||Survey SW’s existing systems||NONE||6|
|B||Develop initial proposal||NONE||8|
|C||Obtain board approval for initial review||A and B||6|
|D||Do vendor research||C||4|
|F||Select vendor||D and E||5|
|G||Obtain final approval from board regarding final choice||E||3|
|H||Purchase product||F and G||2|
Create a path diagram (i.e., a PERT chart) based on the activities listed above, their completion times, and their dependencies. The diagram is started for you below, and I made a PowerPoint template available (CPA Worksheet.pptx) for you to download and use instead of creating the diagram from scratch.:
Step 2: Review (15 minutes)
Once you complete the diagram, answer the following questions below.
- What is the least amount of time this project will take (based on these estimates)?
- List the activities that make up the critical path.
- Back up your answer in (a) by selecting a few other paths through the diagram and showing their completion times.
- How much slack time does Activity D have?
(In other words, how many additional weeks can Activity D take before it slows down the entire project?)
- Let’s say Activity D is finished on time. What could you do with the people assigned to that activity to speed up the project as a whole?
Step 3: Debrief and Discussion (15 minutes)
As a class, we’ll discuss your answers to Steps 1 and 2. We’ll also address the following questions:
- How might the accuracy of the work breakdown structure for each component affect the critical path analysis?
- What could you do to ensure the accuracy of the time estimates?
- What concepts from understanding process flows from the first half of this course helped you think about this activity?