Critical Path Method (CPM) Key Terms

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you're in a management role, you may have heard of Critical Path Method and analysis. This general kind of planning involves ...

If you're in a management role, you may have heard of Critical Path Method and analysis. This general kind of planning involves breaking down a project into parts and figuring out what's most important, as well as dealing with "comparative scheduling" of various stages and activities. CPM helps managers create a master plan for a project, and also allows for contingencies and changes. Knowing about some of CPM key terms will help businesses get more familiar with the method.

Schedule

Every Critical Path Method plan is based on a schedule. The strength of CPM is in helping managers and planners to interpret the results of any complex schedule, including any necessary changes.

Triage

When it comes to CPM, triage is the art of arranging priorities and choosing the most necessary aspects of a project or situation.

Activities diagram

Critical Path Method planners rely on an activities diagram to help show how the triage and scheduling is applied to a project. The activities diagram is a visual way to see what needs to be implemented at any project stage. It's also a way to reinforce ideas about the necessity of an activity.

Crash-action plan

A crash-action plan, or contingency plan, is what springs into a CPM equation when a project encounters an unexpected change. Crash- action plans, in theory, help managers to adjust to unforeseen circumstances.

Floats

Different CPM terminology uses different names for some kinds of "floats." A "float" aspect of a project is something that can be defined according to its delay or hangup, related to the overall project. A "free float" can be disregarded if it is delayed.

Program Evaluation Review Technique

The Program Evaluation Review Technique, or PERT, is something that many planners use in conjunction with critical path analysis. PERT allows for some randomness in project outcomes.

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