Critical path analysis

Competency Group: Business

Type: Process

Description: Critical path analysis is a project-management technique that lays out all of the activities needed to complete a task, the time it will take to complete each activity and the relationships between the activities. Also called the "critical path method", critical path analysis can help predict whether a project can be completed on time and can be used to reorganize the project both before starting it, and as it progresses, to keep the project's completion on track and ensure that deliverables are ready on time. Either manually or using computer software, the project manager first lists each activity, the order it must be completed in and how long it is expected to take, and then diagrams the process.

Citation for Description: Definition of Critical Path Analysis. (2011). Retrieved from Investopedia,

Advantages: The benefit of using Critical Path Analysis (CPA) within the planning process is to help develop and test a plan to ensure that it is robust. Critical Path Analysis formally identifies the tasks which must be completed on time for the whole project to be completed on time.

Limitations: The disadvantage of CPA is that it does not show the relation of tasks to time as clearly as other planning tools, such as Gantt Charts. This can make them more difficult to understand when used for management and communication of plans within organizations.

Target Audience: Top management, Marketing, R&D

Relevant to Universal Design: No

Stages and Steps: 7.4, 7.10

Free Resource: Tutor2u. (n.d.). Critical path analysis CPA (Network analysis). Retrieved from

Free Resource: Jessop, A. (n.d.). Performing critical path analysis. Retrieved from Project Learning International website:

Purchase Resource: Palisade. (2012). Integrated decision making in excel. Retrieved from