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Understanding the Critical Path

Understanding Critical Path Tasks

Determining the Critical Path of a project is an automatic way for Workfront to flag a sequence of tasks in a project that have the potential to impact the timeline of the project. Tasks that can impact the timeline of the project are flagged as being Critical Path tasks. 

The following features can impact the Critical Path of a project:

  • The Work Breakdown Structure of the project.
    For more information about Work Breakdown Structure, see "Determining the Work Breakdown Structure in a Project."
  • The time (duration) that each task will take to complete.
  • The dependencies between the tasks.
    When a task on the Critical Path has a predecessor relationship, its predecessors and successors are also on the Critical Path.
    When a sub-task is identified as a Critical Path task, the parent task is also identified as a Critical Path task.

Taking these features into consideration, the system calculates the Critical Path by using the longest path between the earliest task and the task that determines the end of the project. The Critical Path Calculation takes into account what is the earliest and latest time that each task can start and finish by without making the project longer. This process determines which tasks are "critical" (and belong to the longest path) and which ones have "total float" (can be delayed without making the project longer).

Any delay in the activity of a task on the Critical Path directly impacts the Planned Completion Date of the project (there is no float on the critical path).

True?? Wait for Anna/ Hayk: A project can have several parallel near critical paths. An additional parallel path through the network, whose total duration is shorter than the critical path, is called a sub-critical or non-critical path.

Viewing the Critical Path 

You can view the tasks that belong to the Critical Path in the following areas of the Workfront application:

Viewing the Critical Path in the Gantt Chart

To view tasks on the Critical Path in the Gantt Chart:

  1. Navigate to a project for which you want to view the Critical Path.
  2. Select the Tasks tab.
  3. Click the Gantt Chart icon in the upper-right corner of the task list.
    gantt_chart_icon__1_.png
  4. Expand the Options menu, then enable the Critical Path option.
    The tasks that are on the Critical Path have a red line above their timeline in the Gantt chart. 
    crtitical_path_on_gantt__1_.png 

Viewing the Critical Path in a Task List or Report

To view which tasks are on the critical path in a list of tasks:

  1. Navigate to a project for which you wish to view the Critical Path.
  2. Select the Tasks tab.
  3. From the View drop-down menu, select Status.
  4. The tasks that are on the Critical Path have a Critical Path flag in the Flags column of the list. 
    You can apply the same view to a task report. 
    For more information about creating reports, see "Creating a Report."
    critical_path_in_status_view__1_.png