The critical path method (CPM) is a modeling technique used by product managers to estimate how long a project will take and ensure its timely delivery.
A project’s critical path is determined by calculating the longest distance between start and finish, taking into account all tasks and their duration. The underlying forecast and scheduling paint a clear picture of what needs to be done and when.
The earliest start date represents the quickest time a task can start and needs to consider all dependencies.
The latest start date represents the most belated moment in which a task can start (and should always be accompanied by the latest possible finish date, too).
Slack/float refers to how long you can delay a task without affecting the delivery of the project.
Crash duration describes the fastest time frame in which a task can be completed by allocating extra resources.
To identify the critical path of a project, you need to:
Create a list of all your project tasks.
Establish the dependencies that link your tasks.
Prioritize tasks according to how critical they are.
Calculate time estimates for each task.
Create a Plan B in case things don’t go according to Plan A (always wise!)