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Mail: Another Perspective on Defining “Critical”

In response to Mike Glen’s article, “Ask the Experts: Define Critical,” published in the October 1, 2008 issue of the newsletter, the question is similar to ones that we have dealt with. I believe the answer is more along the line of the following.

Q: I have a very important task that my boss thinks is critical to the project outcome, and it is not showing up as red. How can I make it critical?

The fact that your boss believes the task is critical does not mean that it is a Critical task in the schedule, based on Total Slack (TS). A “Program-Critical” task is different from a “CPM-Critical” task. If your workflow logic is correct, then that program-critical task may have slack, and therefore not found on the critical path.

If the boss believes the task to be a program-critical task, find out what the risks are that may cause it to be Program-Critical. Assess a duration relative to that level of risk and add a “Risk Contingency” task, within that logic-flow, that may prove to be greater than or equal to the difference between the task TS and Critical Path (CP) TS. In other words, if the program-critical task has a TS of 5d and the CP TS is 0d then add a risk-contingency task of five or more days. This will cause that logic-path to become red.

Yours in service,

— Angelo Arcoleo, PMP
Master Scheduler, ITT Space Systems Division

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Written by Angelo Arcoleo

Angelo Arcoleo, PMP,  brings over 30 years of experience in engineering, project management, planning and training.

He leads projects and teams to plan and execute critical projects utilizing his experience, quiet-leadership, passion and versatility to work with anyone.

He is a professionally trained civil engineer and has a bachelor of science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Angelo is a Master Scheduler for Harris Corp., formerly Exelis, in the Geospatial Systems Division. He holds an Orange Belt in Microsoft Office Project and is President of the Western New York Chapter of MPUG and a training consultant.

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