Critical Path Analysis
You will not find the Critical Path Analysis methodology here, since there are so many ways to tackle the problems of what has to be done when, before or after what. Suffice it to say that as you think about organizing your business, you need to make sure of the sequence.
You can find a simple description from the NetMBA–they call it Critical Path Method, but it’s the same thing. It’s all part of project management–the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.
A formal critical path analysis, whether using the back-of-the-envelope technique or a highly sophisticated bit of software, I suggest you search for the terms critical path analysis or project management and choose the method you like best.
PERT and Gantt Charts for project management
When there is a need to control the timing of operations, managers set up schedules: They select jobs to be performed during the production or other processes, assign tasks to work groups, set timetables for the completion of tasks, and make sure that resources will be available when and where they’re needed. There are a number of scheduling techniques. Here are two: PERT and GANTT:
thanks to Visitask for the examples
You will see mention of PERT diagrams. They are those diagrams with boxes and arrows to show you pictorially what needs to happen. It may be that you will have to make changes all the time. Nothing ever stays the same, most of all your own decision making.
In the Gantt chart you get sequence, but not dependence, i.e., which task can only be done when one before is complete. That’s when you need a PERT diagram.
GANTT charts are a key tool of project management because you can assign responsibilities, start and finish times and the means of controlling and reminding the people involved.
You can start off with a spreadsheet and capture all the data you need and then transfer the information to a chart. The easiest way I know how to do this is to use the spreadsheet function in Google Docs and link to a GANTT chart from Viewpath. In many companies, it’s common for individuals and workgroups to plan and track projects using a patchwork of ad hoc tools – scattering activity details between scratch pads, e-mails, calendars, whiteboards, spreadsheets, and to-do-lists. Viewpath will take care of it all–online.