Paper: When is the Critical Path NOT the Most Critical Path?



Introducing the Monitored Path Ranking System

Today, more than fifty years after the Critical Path Method made its debut, there still is no universally accepted definition for the central term, Critical Path. Among the dozens of more obscure definitions, two conflicting theories dominate scheduling glossaries: the Longest Path interpretation and the Least Total Float Path interpretation.

As this White Paper exposes in its opening pages, these two interpretations are deficient in three major ways:

*  From a practical perspective, they are incompatible
    with one another.

*  From a value perspective, they both prove incapable
    of actually identifying the typical Schedule's
    several Critical Paths.

*  From a stability perspective, they are
    both based on a comparative platform
    that causes the Critical Path to shift and
    flicker uncontrollably with each
    corresponding change in Schedule content.



The problem goes much deeper than a lack of agreement on how to spot a Schedule’s Critical Path. Remarkably, there is virtually no discussion of the underlying words, “Path” or “Critical.” But even more astounding, as this White Paper concludes, the two prevailing definitions of a Critical Path (Longest Path and Least Total Float Path) share the same deficiencies:

*  They apply the word, “critical,” in a comparative manner.
    This leads to criticality instability.

*  They assume that a schedule has only one critical path. 
    Most have multiple critical paths.

*  The conclusions one can reach, based on a single path/single goal theory,
    are equally limited.

*  They necessarily encourage limiting the number of date constraint imposed on the logic.

This White Paper proposes a refreshing alternative to the Critical Path concept, called the Monitored Path Ranking System.

*  Every Finish Date Constraint is being monitored; not just the last Finish Date Constraint,
    the one that corresponds to the final Deadline Milestone, PROJECT COMPLETE.

*  All Activity Paths leading to each Finish Date Constraint are being monitored;
    not just the one with the least Total Float or the one that appears to be
    the longest Activity Path.

*  Every Activity Path is measured and ranked according to a pre-defined scale
    that is equally applied to all Activity Paths in the Schedule. This provides for
    apples-to-apples comparisons across all Finish Date Constraints,
    across multiple Schedule Editions, and even across different Projects.

*  Since all Activity Paths that are linked to a given Finish Date Constraint
    are monitored and scored statistically, it is possible to compute an
    Achievement Probability Value for each Deadline Milestone.

*  By tracking a set of Achievement Probability Values for a single Finish Date Constraint,
    one can obtain a far better understanding regarding the effects of work progress
    on a given Deadline Milestone across time.

*  By comparing Achievement Probability Values across Deadline Milestones,
    it is possible to compute an overall Project Achievement Probability Value.

*  By comparing Achievement Probability Values across Finish Date Constraints,
    Project Management can easily recognize where managerial attention is
    most urgently needed. For instance, Project Achievement Probability Values
    can be compared across Projects within a Program (portfolio of Projects).

*  Because Activity Path labeling is no longer subjective or comparative,
    Activity Path ranking will remain more stable, less fluctuating.

*  Since every Activity Path will be recognized by a single Total Float value
    associated with it, Activities that reside on multiple Activity Paths will now
    be able to report the multiple Total Float values available to them.



Table of Contents

1:    Defining Path, Critical, and Critical Path
   1A:    Defining the Term, Path
      1A1:    Definitional Criteria for the Term, Path
      1A2:    Where Does an Activity Path Start and End?
      1A3:    Defining an Activity Path's Secondary Terminology
         1A3a:    Defining the Term, Activity
         1A3b:    Defining the Term, Series of Activities
         1A3c:    Defining the Term, Open End Condition
         1A3d:    Defining the Terms, Path Start, Path Finish, and Path Ends
   1B:    Defining the Term, Critical
      1B1:    "Critical" Must Mean More than Just Important or Essential
      1B2:    "Critical" as Used, is a Comparative Term
      1B3:    Criticality: A Chicken or Egg Question
      1B4:    Criticality Must Be Objectively, Not Subjectively, Derived
      1B5:    Critical ... to What?
      1B6:    Definitional Criteria fir the Term, Critical
   1C:    Defining the Term, Critical Path
      1C1:    Why Urgency is NOT a Comparative Value
      1C2:    No Silver Bullet Rarely Just One Critical Path
      1C3:    Definitional Criteria for the Term, Critical Path

2:    A New Paradigm for Ranking Path Urgency
   2A:    Two Additional Definitional Criteria
      2A1:    Singular Modifier is Inadequate
      2A2:    Each Finish Date Constraint Has a Set of Affecting Paths
   2B:    Putting the Two Innovative Concepts Together
      1B1:    Introducing the Monitored Path Ranking System
   2C:    Solving the "Critical Path" Definition Problem
      2C1:    Advantages of Using the Monitored Path Ranking System
      2C2:    Example pf Using the Monitored Path Ranking System
   2D:    Conclusion

3:    Definitions of Terms Used in this White Paper


Content Features

Pages: 37
Illustrations: 4
Bookmarked: Yes 
Glossary: 24 Items 
Product Number: WPA-KK-14 
Format: Static PDF 


  • Item #: WPA-KK-14
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