Critical Path Analysis (CPA) in detail

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  • Created on: 04-06-14 13:20
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Critical Path Analysis
This is a way of demonstrating how a complex project can be completed in the shortest
possible time. It identifies the critical path, these are the activities that must be completed
on time in order to delay the whole project.
Constructing a Network
We will use the example of the tasks involved producing an advertising campaign, they are:
A ­ plan the advertising campaign;
B ­ make a TV video;
C ­ design a poster;
D ­ test market the TV video;
E ­ test the suitability of the poster;
F ­ present campaign to the board of directors;
G ­ communicate the campaign to all company personnel.
The estimated length of time for each task and the order, i.e., the tasks that depend upon
others being completed are shown below.
Tasks Order/dependency Estimated time (hrs)
A Must be done first 4
B Can only start when A is completed 6
C Can only start when A is completed 7
D Can only start when B is completed 8
E Can only start when C is completed 10
F Can only start when D and E are completed 9
G Can only start when D, E and F are completed 5
These activities can be shown on a network; a generalised network is shown overleaf
followed by a network for the advertising campaign.
The advertising network shows the order in which the tasks can be completed.

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If we assume that the earliest start time for A is 0, then B and C can not start for 4 hours
(0+4), these figures are shown in the top right hand corner of nodes 1 and 2. Task D
cannot start until A and B have been completed, this takes 10 hours (0+4+6), which is
shown in node 3. Task E cannot start until A and C have been completed, this takes 11
hours (0+4+7), which is shown in node 3.…read more

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Once all of the LFTs have been identified it is possible to outline the critical path. This can
be drawn through all of the nodes where the ESTs and the LFTs are the same. This means
that there can be no delays between completing the previous tasks and starting the next one
without prolonging the advertising campaign. The critical path in this case is A, C, E, F, G
is shown by striking two short lines across the critical activities.…read more

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Task Duration EST LFT Total Float Free Float
A 4 0 4 0 0
B 6 4 13 3 0
C 7 4 11 0 0
D 8 10 21 3 3
E 10 11 21 0 0
F 9 21 30 0 0
G 5 30 35 0 0
Advantages of Network Analysis
Reduce lost time between tasks, ensuring a smooth running of projects.
By identifying projects that can be carried out simultaneously it should reduce the
overall time of the project.…read more


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