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Detailed planning – Critical path - 2 - Choosing one


This section discusses areas you may consider if you wish to choose a critical path to eliminate prior to taking any action to do so.
These may be considered as triggers that influence your decision on which path to eliminate.

All things being equal, if a critical path has more tasks on it the risk factors are likely to be higher.
If you choose the path with less tasks on it for your critical path it will be less risky.

This means that the other path, with implied extra risk, should be the focus of greater monitoring and control so that it remains non critical once it has been adjusted.
This may be easier in theory than practice.

Skill level of people

One critical path may have a higher percentage of less skilled workers on the tasks.
This in itself is an inherent risk factor and such may influence you to make this path non critical.

Technical risk

The complexity of the tasks on one path may give rise to higher technical risks.
Again, this is a higher risk factor that may influence your decision.

Weather / uncontrollable

For one path there may be uncontrollable factors like the weather or interest rates that afford a higher risk.
More float may be needed for those tasks affected in this way.


If tasks take up more resource, be it equipment or personnel they will be more costly which suggests a possible increase in risk.
Try to give these more float.

Historical data

This is similar to utilising new technologies.
If there is little experience with particular tasks or there is no historical data to provide added confidence then these may be of higher risk.
As such give them extra float.

Backup plan

If you have a critical path with less contingency planning built into it than another it is inherently more risk.
Of course, a thorough risk assessment may have shown little need for extra contingency.
If not, add extra float to these tasks.

Business cycle

For some projects the business cycle may be such that certain tasks may become very hectic at particular times.
If this is the case provide these tasks with extra float.


Some tasks may just be more difficult to achieve as well as being complex or using new technology.
Give these extra float.

Non - PRINCE2 information