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  1. #1
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    Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    I have a Master Project plan that has around 15 sub-projects "inserted" into it. When I am trying to view just the critical path, I select the tracking view and use the "critical" filter. I have noticed that there are many critical paths highlighted in red (I have the option to display multiple critical paths turned off, though), not just the path to our "final deliverable". Some of the paths "seem" to be totally disjointed, i.e., they are not connected to the largest critical path, or even the closest to the end or beginning of the project. Will any string of dependent tasks show up as critical path just because there is no lag time between them? Is there a best practices method for assigning predecessors/successors so that you can view a critical path with the greatest ease? I know that looking at one of my disjointed paths, if any of the tasks are delayed, my final deliverables are not delayed.

    This is causing me to age at a much accelerated pace, as I am trying to communicate to the VP I report up to why I am showing tasks as "critical" on some weekly status reports that show "tasks that have been delayed" and explain why these tasks are really NOT delaying our final product! Does this make sense?

    I would appreciate any help understanding what's going on!

    Thank you.
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Hi,

    Do you have your subprojects linked in dependency relationships to each other? If not you will not see the critical path of the Master file. You will probably just see an assortment of critical task strings.

    Carla

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    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Don,

    The critical path really does not have anything to do with tasks without lag time between them. In summary, the critical path is calculated via a forward and backwards path that calculates early dates (earliest times an activity can start and finish once its predecessors are completed and late dates (latest dates an activity can start and finish without delaying the end date of the project.) Critical tasks are those tasks with Float of zero (or less).

    If you just insert one or many subprojects and don't create links between them, then your critical path may seem disjointed. Try linking the subprojects to see if it solves your problem. It sounds as if you are seeing each subprojects critical path as there are no links between the subprojects.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Carla and Gary,

    All of the sub-projects ARE linked together. I guess that the "disjointedness" must be due to the phased approach of the overall program (i.e., the phases are not tied together via predecessor/successor tasks well enough to show as critical tasks) . There is a sub-plan for System Integration and Testing (SIT) where the greatest number of links exist to the other projects. My grief arises from not being able to distinguish between "critical" tasks that when delayed will push the "end" delivery date and the "(not-so-)critical" tasks that do not have any influence on the final deliverable date. I have been extracting the Critical field for reporting purposes, and need to figure out a way to distinguish between these 2 definitions. Does this make sense?

    In short, I am searching for a way to filter for ONLY the tasks that will push our final deliverable date. I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling that this is possible, though.

    Thanks,

    Don
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Don,

    Try running a filter where the total float <= 0. This will give you only the critical tasks such that if the task is delayed, the overall schedule will be delayed as well.

    HTH
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Gary,

    Is the field you are referring to "Total Slack" that I should use in the filter? I can't find a field by the name of "total float".

    Thanks!

    Don
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Don, Sorry - Wrong system. Yes the field I am referring to is Total Slack.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Gary,

    This filter appears to include all of the "Critical" filter tasks, plus a lot of extra ones. I have sporadically changed a few task's durations without any impact to my end deliverables date, though.

    Do I need to filter for more than just the Total Slack field to make this work?

    Thanks,

    Don
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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    Silver Lounger GARYPSWANSON's Avatar
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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Don,

    Make sure you are filtering where the Total Slack = 0 or <=0. Tasks with slack greater then 0 are not critical but could still be important.
    Regards,

    Gary
    (It's been a while!)

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Gary,

    I'm not sure that I understand your last comment. I did try the filter set up for Total Slack <= (less than or equal to) zero. I am really just interested in the critical path tasks that are related to our final deliverable, though. The filter above seemed to include the tasks that MSP would show in the "Critical" filter plus many other tasks which MSP did not consider "critical", as they were not highlighted in red in the Tracking Gantt view.

    Other than the "option" to NOT include multiple critical paths on the Calculation tab, is there a way to isolate a particular critical path leading to a specific deliverable? The MSP filter appears to be too generic in its definition, and would be more useful to me if it could highlight the critical path with the latest path, chronologically. These are the tasks that I am afraid of, in that if they are delayed, our final deliverable will be delayed. This is not true for many of the tasks which are selected with the default MSP "Critical" filter in my Master plan.

    Any light you could shed on this would be helpful. Please let me know if this explanation more adequately depicts what my goal is, or if my needs are still not totally clear.

    Thank you!

    Don
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Hi Don
    did you ever figure this out? If not, I may have a few ideas for you.

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    Re: Critical Path(s)? (MSP2000&2003)

    Jeffrey,

    The only thing I found was some MS "help" information stating that not all tasks tagged as "critical" affect the end date of other critical path items when their duration is changed (something I already knew in practice). So, no, I have temporarily given up, as I am not going to hand calculate CPM for the program I am on by hand (1500+ tasks in 16 sub-plans) to find the "real" critical path. The fact is that I can find the current critical path at any point in time, but printing a report on demand using a filter would be better. I try to distribute weekly reports with the next week's task list for each of the sub-system owners, and have the "Critical" field on those reports so that they know what tasks to pay special attention to. It was just a bit embarrassing when I was questioned regarding one or two tasks that slipped and did not impact the final delivery date that I started looking into what is really critical, and what MS perceives to be critical. <img src=/S/bummer.gif border=0 alt=bummer width=15 height=15>

    Any ideas to narrow down the identification of "true" critical path tasks would still be welcome!

    Thank you.
    Don Liebman
    San Diego, CA 92115

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