Every engineering course has a subject called the Engineering Project Management. This discusses the principles of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.
In this subject, there is an important lesson and technique that engineering students should learn by heart so they could apply later at work, especially in complex projects. It is called the critical path method or CPM.
But what exactly is CPM?
Source: CPM Scheduling
CPM is a step-by-step project management technique for process planning that defines critical and non-critical tasks with the goal of preventing time-frame problems and process bottlenecks. It is ideally suited to projects consisting of numerous activities that interact in a complex manner.
By using CPM in a project, engineers can get the following advantages:
Visibility of the progress of project activities
To see the project being accomplished in its physical form is one thing, but crossing out tasks in the CPM is another.
CPM is performed by constructing project network diagrams or precedence diagrams, as well as a Gantt chart. This horizontal bar chart provides a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan, coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project. Gantt chart is also used to check about the status of the project.
Source: RF Flow
Organization of large and complex projects
Because each task in an engineering project is listed, CPM allows engineers to have a more systematic approach in project planning and scheduling, project execution, and risk management. It helps especially when there are several tasks done altogether.
Possibility to reduce the project duration
In project management, when the project is finished faster than planned without comprising quality, of course, the better. This can be done with the help of CPM by using compression techniques especially in the critical path.
CPM enables the project manager to optimize efficiency by allocating resources appropriately, which could mean the reduction of overall cost.
Monitoring of the Critical Path
As its name suggests, the critical path is the longest sequence of activities in a project plan which is critical, meaning it must be completed on time for the project to complete on due date.
The only way to do this is to make use of the diagrams and Gantt chart produced upon performing the critical path method.
Source: Bright Hub