Creating Your Visuals
Your critical path timeline can be completed by using a few easy steps.
First, you will need to make sure that you understand the scope of your project and that the project scope has been stated clearly and succinctly. Remember that your project will not be dealing with anything outside of this scope. Thus, if your project scope is to "construct a pair of pants" anything dealing with shirt construction or sock darning will not go into your critical path.
Second, you will need to decompose your project scope into the component activities. By decomposing your project, you will determine what activities need to be undertaken in order to complete the project. Once decomposition has occurred, you can then arrange your work items into the work breakdown structure.
Now that you've defined your work, you can begin to arrange your work into its critical path. Estimate how many days each work item will take to complete.
Enter each critical path item into a spreadsheet or into Microsoft Project. When you enter your information into your system, you will want to be sure to note how many days you expect the work item to take for completion and you will want to note whether or not that task is dependent upon another task.
Once all of your information has been entered into your data collection program of choice, you can then determine how you will use the information to work with the critical path. For our purposes, you will want to create a critical path timeline - a visual display that shows how the work will spread out over time, and demonstrate task dependencies in a visual manner. Microsoft's Project is an outstanding program to use when working with the critical path.