Browse Definitions:

critical path method (CPM)

The critical path method (CPM) is a step-by-step project management technique for process planning that defines critical and non-critical tasks with the goal of preventing time-frame problems and process bottlenecks. The CPM is ideally suited to projects consisting of numerous activities that interact in a complex manner.

In applying the CPM, there are several steps that can be summarized as follows:

  • Define the required tasks and put them down in an ordered (sequenced) list.
  • Create a flowchart or other diagram showing each task in relation to the others.
  • Identify the critical and non-critical relationships (paths) among tasks.
  • Determine the expected completion or execution time for each task.
  • Locate or devise alternatives (backups) for the most critical paths.

The origins of CPM:
The CPM was developed in the 1950s by DuPont, and was first used in missile-defense construction projects. Since that time, the CPM has been adapted to other fields including hardware and software product research and development. Various computer programs are available to help project managers use the CPM.

See a brief tutorial explaining CPM:

This was last updated in January 2015

Continue Reading About critical path method (CPM)

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Very nice explanation. Thank you very much.
Simple and complete. Nothing to say more. Thanks for presentation


File Extensions and File Formats


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • all-flash array (AFA)

    An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash ...

  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.