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PMP Certification: A Beginner s Guide
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There are several steps in determining the critical path of the network diagram The following summary level checklist can be used as a guide to help you through this process:
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1 All network diagrams should have a start activity (zero duration) and can start at
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day zero or day one (most PMs like to start at day one; however, there is no hard rule on this)
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2 Identify all activities that can begin immediately These may become the different
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paths
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3 Identify the next dependent or associated activity to continue the logical relationship of
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the network path
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4 Complete the process until all predecessors and successors have been identified
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(with no danglers)
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5 Identify the activities that signify completion of the project (always have an end
activity)
6 Calculate the forward pass Note that when multiple activities converge into a single
activity, you should select the activity with the highest early finish (EF) to carry forward to the early start (ES) of the successor activity (see details and Figure 6-12, later in this chapter)
7 Find the latest early finish dates of the project This will give you an idea of the overall
length of the project
8 Calculate the backward pass Note that when multiple activities converge into a single
activity, you should select the lowest late start (LS) to carry over to the late finish (LF) single-predecessor activity (see details and Figure 6-13, later in this chapter)
9 Calculate the float Note that the total float is within the box, and free float is outside
the box (on the line between activities)
10 Identify the critical path (or critical paths) and the near critical path 11 Validate the network to ensure that it is correct and complete 12 Become familiar with the characteristics of the network 13 Verify that the work can be done with the available resources 14 Take actions to adjust the schedule as needed 15 Be sure to include project management activities
6: Project Time Management
Activity Convergence and Divergence
Other terms you need to be aware of when calculating the forward and backward pass are activity convergence and activity divergence:
Activity convergence Occurs when deliverables of two or more predecessor activities are required for the start of a single activity (successor) On a forward pass, when converging activities into a single activity, you should always use the largest of the early finish dates of the predecessor activities as the early start date of the successor activity On a backward pass, always use the smallest late start date as the late finish date of the successor activity (see Figure 6-12) Activity divergence Occurs when deliverables of one activity are required for the start of two or more activities On a forward pass, when diverging a single activity into multiple activities, you should use the early finish of the predecessor activity as the early start date of each of the successor activities On a backward pass, when diverging a single activity into multiple activities, use the late start of the predecessor activity as the late finish date of each of the successor activities (see Figure 6-13)
Here are a couple tips to help when you are running the forward and backward pass: Mind the line, which means pay close attention to the relationship lines (convergent paths, finish-to-start, and so on) Mind the sign (+/ ), which means watch for lead and lag times Lag is a delay (+ time) going forward; however, it s a minus sign ( ) coming back on the backward pass Lead time is negative lag that is, minus sign ( ) on the forward pass and a plus sign (+) on the backward pass These tips will make more sense as you work through your own network diagrams
Forward pass Convergence
Figure 6-12 Sample converging paths
PMP Certification: A Beginner s Guide
Divergence
Figure 6-13 Sample diverging paths
Steps to Calculate the Forward Pass
The forward pass is where the activity duration estimate comes in and is crucial to the accuracy of the critical path calculations The detailed steps to calculate the forward pass are as follows:
1 Calculating the forward pass will determine the early start (ES) and early finish (EF)
days for each activity The ES and EF numbers go in the upper-left (ES) and upperright (EF) corners, respectively, of each activity (refer to Figure 6-11)
2 The ES for the first activity (A) is usually zero (place that number in the ES corner of
the sticky note)
3 The EF of Activity A is calculated by adding the duration of A to its early start (early
start + duration = early finish) Place this number in the EF corner of the sticky note
4 The early finish of Activity A then becomes the early start for the next activity 5 Add the duration of the activity you are calculating to the ES number to get the EF
number for that activity, and so on
6 Complete the forward pass for the entire project to determine the total project duration
(this number, once confirmed, represents the overall expected duration of the project) Table 6-4 is used as input to help demonstrate the forward and backward passes Using the information in Table 6-4, Figure 6-14 shows how the forward pass might look
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