Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Viewing the project’s critical path
If you want to assign the same resources to all occurrences of a recurring task, assign
the resources to recurring tasks with the Assign Resources dialog box. Entering
resource names in the Resource Name field of the summary recurring task assigns the
resources to the summary recurring task only and not to the individual occurrences.
Viewing the project’s critical path
A critical path is the series of tasks that will push out the project’s end date if any of those
tasks are delayed. The word critical in this context has nothing to do with how important
these tasks are to the overall project. It refers only to how their scheduling will affect the
project’s finish date; however, the project finish date is of great importance in most projects.
If you want to shorten the duration of a project to bring in the finish date, you must begin
by shortening (also referred to as crashing ) the critical path.
Over the life of a project, the project’s critical path is likely to change from time to time
as tasks are completed ahead of or behind schedule. Schedule changes, such as changing
task relationships or durations, can also alter the critical path. After a task on the critical
path is completed, it is no longer critical because it cannot affect the project finish date. In
Chapter 16, “Getting your project back on track,” you will work with a variety of techniques
to shorten a project’s overall duration.
A key to understanding the critical path is to understand slack , also known as float . There
are two types of slack: free and total. Free slack is the amount of time a task can be delayed
before it delays another task. Total slack is the amount of time a task can be delayed before
it delays the completion of the project.
A task is on the critical path if its total slack is less than a certain amount—by default, if it is
zero days. In contrast, noncritical tasks have slack, meaning they can start or finish earlier or
later within their slack time without affecting the completion date of a project.
TIP The Task Path feature introduced in Chapter 9, “Advanced task scheduling,”
distinguishes between the selected task’s predecessor and successor relationships. The
critical path, in contrast, applies to whatever sequence of linked tasks in a plan that drive
the plan’s finish date.
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