Free Critical Path Templates (Excel, Word, PDF)

free critical path template 6

A critical path template is used in project management to estimate the shortest possible duration to complete a project. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to manage all of the resources assigned to a particular project. With the help of a critical path template, you can optimize all of the resources to minimize waste. Moreover, this document assists you identify the effective way to deliver your project.

A critical path is basically the series of tasks of a specific project. By adding these tasks together, you can estimate how much time you require to complete the project. So, the critical path template allows you to input information about your CPM (critical path method).

If any of the tasks you listed on the document get delayed then the end date of your project will also delayed too. By using the template, the project managers should determine that which of the tasks are the most essential for the completion of the project in a short period of time.

Critical path logarithm:

The critical path method is just like the algorithm used to make decisions. The algorithm contains the beginning time of the task, the duration, and the completion time. In this way, you can analyze that which tasks need the most attention as these are the “critical tasks.”

Furthermore, without compromising the project quality, project mangers want to accomplish a project in the quickest possible time. For each of the tasks, you should find the shortest completion time. You can do this in the best way by placing all of the tasks into a critical path template in the proper sequence.

You can also use a flowchart to list all the tasks in proper order and place arrows between them. On the left of the task, mention the earliest start time, while on the right indicate the earliest finish time.

What should be included in your critical path template?

Your critical path template should include the following important details;

  • Indicate all deliverables and sub-deliverables (for a successful project, everything you need to complete)
  • Task dependencies
  • Task duration (how long every deliverable will take on the basis of past projects or industry standards)
  • Total float (without impacting your project timeline, how long you can delay a task)
  • A label to determine critical tasks and non-critical tasks
  • A date for every task (the time span in which you have to complete each deliverable on the basis of dependencies and the duration of the task)

How to use a critical path in project management?

When you have created your CPM template, it’s time to learn how to use it properly. Let us assume that your current project is to plan a party for your company. Here are some tips on how do you plan and execute it;

State the scope of the project:

At first, you have to state all of the tasks you require to complete the entire project. According to the above example, the tasks may include;

  • Selecting a venue and the date for the party
  • A playlist
  • Rent
  • Set up the sound system
  • Sending invitation to the guests.
  • Hire a caterer for food and drinks and much more.

Analyze the critical path:

The main purpose of analysis of critical path is that you can perform certain tasks when you have finished the others. You must complete the tasks in proper order so that each stage gets accomplished. In addition, the critical path is the longest sequence of tasks i.e. from the starting of the project to its completion. Completing all the tasks is compulsory in order to finish the whole project by a specific time. If you are a project manager so manage each of the tasks closely.

Due to some reason if any of the tasks aren’t completed then take immediate action to avoid any delay. Otherwise, you aren’t able to complete the project on time.

Propose various project paths:

You have multiple critical paths in a single project. You can have run them concurrently. Between the project tasks or separate sequences, it is a result of several dependencies.

All of the activities and tasks associated with the project are included in the critical path. It doesn’t mean that all of the tasks associated with critical path are the most relevant. However, there are also some tasks that you didn’t include in your critical path but they have significant effect on your project success.

In the critical path, the bottom line contains the most critical tasks and activities you should accomplish on time.

How to create a critical path template in Excel?

Here are some points on how to create a critical path template in Excel;

  • At first, draft the precedence diagram. From the starting all the way to the end, this diagram gives you flow of all the project tasks and activities. You should create this flow on a separate sheet of paper. It provides you a structure for your critical path method template.
  • Now, you have to create the main headings for the computations of your critical path. Name these headings as the “Activities List,” the “Duration of Activities,” and the “Possible Activity Paths”. Insert the complete list of activities under the Activities List heading and enter the duration of these activities under the Duration of Activities heading. After that, under the Possible Activity Paths heading input the identified paths.
  • The longest path you have created in the precedence diagram is referred to the critical path. For computing the critical path, you have to calculate how much time each path will take to complete. Use Excel’s SUMPRODUCT function to do this. However, there are two methods to calculate or determine the critical path;
    1- The first method is that you can determine the longest path in your diagram manually.
    2- The second method is to make use of the MAX function in Excel. This function generates it automatically.
    When you have more than one, calculating the critical path automatically is more effective. Then, place a conditional IF statement. The proper column should indicate the word “Critical” automatically if you input the formulas correctly and the software finds a match.
  • When you have identified the critical path successfully then you can start doing different things with it. You can also draft a Gantt chart to make a visual representation of your projects.

What are the benefits of a digital critical path template?

With the help of a digital critical path template, you can plan your timeline at the start of a project. Even when circumstances change, it allows you to adjust and visualize your critical path. Moreover, when your team completes or changes project tasks, you can view any updates to your digital critical path method template in real time. Let us discuss below some more benefits of making this template;

  • It allows you to see which tasks have the greatest impact on your project timeline.
  • Without doing any extra work, you can view your project deliverables as a list or Gantt-chart style illustration.
  • Determine and track project dependencies that depend on the completion of a different task.
  • If circumstances change, you can update your project timeline.
  • By using this template, your stakeholder can visualize your project timeline and priorities.


In conclusion, a critical path template is an important document in project management in order to identify how long a project takes from start to finish. It is a very useful document that assists in decision-making too.

Faqs (Frequently Asked Questions)

To whom you should share your critical path template?

The manager should share critical path templates with their team members in order to help them in prioritizing and planning tasks for each project. You can also share it with project stakeholders once you make and fill out your template.

What types of projects can get benefit from a critical path method template?

Project with dependencies can get benefit most from a critical path method template. It is particularly beneficial when multiple project activities are happening simultaneously.

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