The fundamentals of good decision-making are, first, a clear understanding of the decision itself and, second, the availability of properly focused information to support the decision. Decision-making techniques help with both of these problems. This paper will talk about one such decision-making technique, Critical Path Analysis. After the explaining the technique, the paper will go on to describe an example of how Critical Path Analysis can be used at ACME as a tool in the decision-making process. Finally, this paper will identify some situations where this technique would not be the most appropriate or optimal tool for decision-making.
Critical Path Analysis is an extremely effective method of analyzing a complex project. It helps one to calculate the minimum length of time in which the project can be completed, and which activities should be prioritized to complete by that date. .
Where a job has to be completed on time, critical path analysis helps the group to focus on the essential activities to which attention and resources should be devoted. It gives an effective basis for the scheduling and monitoring of progress. .
The essential concept behind Critical Path Analysis is that some planed activities are dependent on other activities being completed first. These dependent activities need to be completed in a sequence, with each activity being more-or-less completed before the next activity can begin. Dependent activities are also called 'sequential' activities. .
Other activities are not dependent on completion of any other tasks, or may be done at any time before or after a particular stage is reached. These are non-dependent or 'parallel' tasks. The Critical Path Analysis technique is used on many projects at ACME, one such example is the development of new software.
There are many decisions that need to be made when developing a new version of software, such as, what new functionality should be included, will bugs from the previous version be fixed, what resources need to be involved, who are the key players, how much time will each key player need to complete their task, etc.