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Finding the Longest Critical Schedule Tasks Using Microsoft Project

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Emily Foster
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Tool Tip: Here's how to find the longest Critical Schedule Tasks using Microsoft Project http://ow.ly/RbGsn

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Emily Foster
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Thanks Tom for the positive feedback and the notes that you mentioned. I will update our articel to reflect them.

Thanks again - Emily

Tom Boyle
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Hi Emily,

Kudos for a well written and nicely presented illustration of some fairly elementary concepts, i.e. filtering by MSP’s “Critical” flag and sorting by Duration – “…to help focus in on those tasks that provide the most promise for shortening your schedule….”  You correctly note (at the end of your article), “Be mindful that shortening critical tasks could change the critical path, and some previously non-critical tasks may become critical.”  No doubt some PP members who are new to the world of scheduling or to MSP in particular will find your suggestions useful.

I think it’s important to note some of the key limitations:

1.       MSP’s “Critical” flag is 100% determined by a task’s computed Total Slack, but Total Slack is an unreliable indicator of the true critical path in the presence of variable task calendars, finish constraints/deadlines, and (of course) resource leveling.

2.       As most experienced planners know, the maximum amount of schedule compression that can be achieved from any given task is often limited by the existence of parallel, near-critical paths, which can be hard to decipher in MSP.  The Duration DRAG of a task accounts for this limitation and may present a better focus (for crashing) than Duration alone - especially for projects that have already been heavily crashed, with multiple near-critical paths.

Overcoming either of these limitations requires the use of third-party tools (i.e. Add-ins.)