The Project Group, LLC

The Project Group, LLC Newsletter

  Advancing Project Management

February 2003  


in this issue


San Francisco Feb 11-13
Houston Feb 18-20
Project Management Courses Offered!

We're offering two Project Management Training Courses in San Francisco and Houston in February. Our two-day Project Management Nuts and Bolts is a fun and dynamic introduction to project management best practices. It is followed by our Microsoft Project 2000 in One-Day course.

The Project Group, LLC

We specialize in assisting corporate and government clients in learning to improve their productivity while planning and executing projects.

Our three-phase approach yields faster, more efficient project initiation, planning and execution results.


Chancellor & Chancellor

Do you feel that you may have issues with using contractors on your projects? Chancellor & Chancellor, Inc specializes in helping clients comply with state and Federal tax regulations when using professional contractors. Since 1987 they have offered companies and independent contractors their Passthru Program. They also help their clients by supplying contractors. For details visit

To Enroll In A Class Click Here


Dear Robert,

Each month our newsletter will delve into a specific step in the phases of Initiation, Planning and Execution of projects. Our methodology is applicable to any project in any industry. Our systematic approach to Project Management is designed to help your company's projects gain traction quickly, communicate clearly to all parties and keep them on track to reach a successful conclusion.

This newsletter focuses on Part 2 of Process 6:

The Critical Path





·  The Critical Path


The critical path is the longest set of tasks in a project. Delay any task on the critical path and you delay the project completion.

The critical path also...

·  Points out where crucial delays could derail a project

·  Shows potentially where to shorten project duration

·  Can change when non-critical path tasks get delayed

·  Has nothing to do with "most important" or "mission critical" tasks

·  Is purely a mathematical calculation

A project may have several, parallel critical paths.

You can save a lot of time in your task duration estimating process by making quick, rough estimates of durations, calculating where the critical path lies, and then refocusing your estimating effort on gaining precision with those tasks. The non-critical task estimates need not be so accurate: you have some "wiggle room" with them.

Critical Path Terminology

If you want to understand how the critical path is calculated, you have to imagine comparing two scenarios. The first where every task in the project happens as soon as possible (ASAP) and the second where every task happens as late as possible (ALAP).

The difference between the task starts between the ALAP scenario and the ASAP scenario is the float, the amount of time a task can be delayed before it delays the project.

In most projects there is a path of tasks where the float is zero. That path is the Critical Path in that a delay in completing a task on that path, delays the completion of the project.


·  How Software Displays A Critical Path


Popular Project Management software typically displays tasks on the Critical Path in red. Since by definition a Critical Path is a mathematical calculation it will change when tasks are completed either earlier or later than scheduled.

As a Project Manager collects data on the dates tasks are completed, it is important that the Critical Path be re-calculated to view the effect of actual task completion versus planned. The critical path is dynamic and must be recalculated after entering accurate data on when tasks begin and end.

Click Here to See How Microsoft Project
Displays a Critical Path


·  Final Critical Path Thoughts


While Project Management software will calculate and display the critical path, the Project Manager must remain alert as tasks end at times different than originally planned.

A project may have one or more parallel critical paths at any given time.

To View An Invitation To the February Training Sessions


·  Attend Project Management Nuts And Boltsİ


Our two-day course covers the processes of Project Management.

Audience: Managers tasked with small to medium-sized projects

Covers best practices of:

·  Initiation -- Project Objective Statements, Project Chartering, Project Organization

·  Project Planning -- Work Breakdown Structure, Task Estimating, Resource Planning, Structured Risk Management

·  Leadership & communication issues underlying good team-building

Bring your own projects to work on as exercises!

Sign up for one or both courses.


·  Learn Microsoft ProjectTM


Learning Microsoft Project a popular software tool can be very daunting! You need someone to help you understand which of the myriad features you'll probably never use so you can focus on the ones you'll use all the time.

After years of teaching Ms-Project and applying it in the field, Roger Kent created this class to focus on the basics you need to build a task-based plan. It is delivered in a combination lecture, "follow me" through the software and individual challenge exercises.

Unless you are familiar with best-practice planning models, we recommend you take Project Management Nuts and Bolts first. Most of us learned word processing because we understood the model it was based on: a lined piece of paper with top, bottom, left and right margins.

People have difficulty learning Ms-Project because they're not clear on the planning processes that form its underlying model. Project Management Nuts and Bolts is the ideal preparation for Ms-Project.

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