What Is The Critical Path Method For Construction Management Scheduling

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June 20, 2018
Author: Lorman Education

Critical Path Method for Construction

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is the most common way that construction managers schedule their employees to work. The CPM aims to schedule employees at the most optimal hours to help ensure that projects are done on time. The CPM schedule also schedules employees based on the scope of the task that is being done on a project at that specific time. For example, if certain projects will require more "hands on deck" construction managers may find it beneficial to have more employees scheduled to work on certain days than others. This ensures that the manpower that is on the construction site is being utilized to its full potential while also ensuring that adequate personnel is available to complete the task(s) on hand. 

Having the optimal number of employees on the construction site at any given time will help ensure that the CPM method is helping the project at hand move along on its respectively scheduled timeline. Effectively using the CPM scheduling method is key to ensuring that projects move along without delay and don't get pushed back due to a lack of workers scheduled to be on the job site at the most critical points during a project. 

Presenting Project Schedules:

Having a clear, effective way to lay out project schedules for your construction crew members to understand what their role in the project is exceptionally important to the effectiveness of the company's ability to complete the job at hand on time. While there are several effective formats to use when laying out a schedule for a construction project, using a format that helps communicate what is happening at what specific time to your crew. An effective presentation of your schedule will also help employees understand their specific role in the project as well as what they will need to do at each point throughout the life of the project.

Networking Diagrams will work well for a project once it has already been introduced to your employees. This will provide a powerful visualization of the project and each individual's role in helping shape that project at each stage as it progresses. Moreover, this project plan will be continually revised and edited until the plan to complete the project on the specified timeline is satisfactory.

Another great technique to use to present your project schedules to your employees is the time-scaled network. Most managers cited that their favorite and most effective methods of this schedule to use were ones that showed the time-scale of a project utilizing nodes and branches. 

The Gantt chart was another widely preferred method of displaying a project's timeline and sequence of activities. This chart effectively shows the beginning and end of the project as well as it's duration. The Gantt chart will often show how long each task during that project is expected to take. This is a great and very visual way to keep employees on track and ensuring that they are starting and finishing their tasks in accordance with the guidelines at hand.

Consider CPM Software: 

CPM is a standard method of construction scheduling that used to be done by paper and pen, however, with the recent technology booms many construction companies now rely on computer software programs to assist with the technicalities of CPM scheduling. 

These computer schedules help ensure that schedules are error-free and save a lot of labor hours as well. Computer programs help many construction managers as some of these schedules and plans can become very high-level and complex projects and These programs, however, are usually used for much larger and more industrial tasks. For example, building a home or another sort of building rarely require software programs to manage the CPM schedules. Large scale infrastructure projects, however, are where these charts will come in handy the most.

An Argument For CPM Schedules:

CPM schedules help construction managers keep these projects that their company is undertaking on task and on time. CPM schedules can also help employees find the information they need about their role in the project in one central place with an easy-to-read chart that allows them access to the information they need to be present to do their jobs when they are needed. 

Pros Of CPM Schedules:

There are a vast variety of pros to using the CPM method for scheduling and some of those include the following:

  • allows managers a method of scheduling which will calculate the amount of time and resources needed to complete a given project
  • helps prevent scheduling problems by coordinating tasks in a timely manner to ensure that the appropriate number of employees are scheduled on each day to get the task done
  • avoids too many people being scheduled at once which overcrowds an area and makes doing thier jobs effectively much harder
  • ensures that equipment is scheduled for usage on appropriate days so that equipment is not overcrowding storage facilities or unavailable for use when its needed (setting the project back)
  • ensures that all resources and materials are scheduled in such a way that prime productivity is possible at all stages and phases of the project.

Ensuring that everyone is on the same page through a CPM schedule can help clear up confusion as to what tasks are happening at what time throughout a project. It will also help to ensure that equipment and personnel are on hand when needed to keep the project moving smoothly and on time from start to finish. This eliminates the likelihood of delays which push back projects and cost the company both valuable time and money as they can finish that project on time and move on to the next project that they have lined up.


CPM schedules are the most widely used and productive project schedules for managers and supervisors in the construction industry. They help ensure that everyone (workers and management/supervisors) are all on the same page and that materials and personnel are available to help the company maximize its productivity to keep each project on schedule, which helps maximize company profit and minimize time and revenue lost to miscommunications and poor scheduling and timing of resources. 

For more information on CPM schedules and how they can benefit your construction company, please feel free to contact us.

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