What is the critical path method?

The Critical Path Method, or CPM, refers to a resource utilization strategy that optimizes the timeline of objective-specific product/service improvement activities. The founding premise behind CPM-based product/service improvement is the logical and sequential execution of objective-specific tasks to minimize overall completion time. Consequently, task scheduling of a CPM product/service-centric project requires establishing a logical(cause-effect) relationship between successive jobs.

CPM Process Model Principles

The CPM process model allows multiple paths of least resistance to realize desired product/service-centric improvements in the implementation approach. This outcome is a result of two task implementation realities, namely:

  • The execution of various tasks can be dependent on the completion of a single preceding task
  • The performance of specific singular tasks can be conditional on the completion of numerous preceding tasks

Consequently, a product/service improvement project along with the project manager based on the CPM process model can feature multiple critical converging/diverging paths. Furthermore, tasks in a vital way need not be the most critical tasks, i.e., tasks that are typically resource-intensive in their execution. This approach makes it possible to recover time lost in completing one activity by completing the last task within a shorter period.

CPM-based Product/Service Improvement

Basing a product/service development, design, and deployment strategy on the CPM process model starts by satisfying three preliminary prerequisites, namely:

Define Core Objectives and Specific Tasks

A product/service development team needs to develop a comprehensive outline of all critical product/service-specific objectives necessary to achieve the desired overall improvement, i.e., a list of what needs to be done. Once core objectives are defined, the team determines the various objective-relevant tasks required to achieve each goal.

For example, creating a product/service-specific blog is a proven way of boosting user traffic to an existing e-commerce website. A core objective in this product/service improvement initiative is acquiring SEO-optimized product/service-specific webpage content, i.e., written content and visual media (photos, videos, GIFs, etc.). Objective-specific tasks falling under content acquisition include finding competent writers, getting content ready for online publishing, etc.

Relationship Description

After defining key objectives and component tasks, a product/service improvement task force must establish underlying relationships between the various objective-specific tasks, i.e., determine how interdependent tasks are and independent of all others.

At this point, a project implementation task force begins to identify objective-specific tasks requiring sequential execution and those that are independent, i.e., tasks whose performance has little to no effect on the overall completion timeline.

Ultimately, the various prerequisite sequences for executing core and peripheral tasks become the critical paths for a CPM-based product/service improvement project.

Task/Objective Timelines

The final step entails determining the expected completion timelines for each task to realize a set of overall timelines for individual critical paths. Once particular critical path completion times are known, the timeframe of the longest path becomes the CPM product/service improvement project completion time.

The Critical Path Method allows product managers and development teams to achieve desired improvements within the shortest possible time. This feat is realized through the logical and sequential execution of improvement-centric tasks.

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