What is the Critical path?

Project Execution

The digital world is full of jargon! One of the key terms that Project Sponsors must understand is the Critical path.

Let us explore – What is the critical path in a project?

The project is a collection of tasks that must run logically. Moreover, they must be in sequence because of their dependency.

For example: To build a house, we start with the foundation and then construct walls. The construction of walls is dependent on the foundation.

On the other hand, few tasks do not have a strong dependency. So, if they delay within a certain threshold, it does not hinder the overall project.

For example: Once the house structure is ready, no other tasks depend on landscaping. So, if the landscaping is complete before the house’s completion, it does not affect the project timeline.

Few tasks have a strong dependency structure. They are the chain of tasks that are strongly dependent on each other. A delay in one task will delay the next task. There can be a ripple effect on the chain of tasks.

For example: Consider the following chain for building a house:

Foundation-> Walls-> Roof-> Flooring

The delay is predecessor will delay the successor. So, it can have a ripple effect on the chain and the overall project timeline.

This long chain of tasks with strong dependency is called the Critical path. Any delay on one of the tasks (nodes) in the chain can affect the overall project timeline.