Project schedules are typically shown using a Gantt chart. The blocks on a Gantt chart represent the start and finish dates of project activities in the work breakdown structure. Using software like Microsoft Project, sequential and parallel activities are brought together to show the critical path for a project.
Here is a simple Gantt chart made with Microsoft Excel –
Note that the first two tasks (confirming the party date and finding out the cake preferences) are parallel work activities – they can be started at the same time. The next activity, finding the recipe, cannot be started until the cake preference (i.e. cake and frosting flavors) is understood. Thus, items 2 and 3 are sequential activities. Similarly, ingredients cannot be purchased until the recipe is known, and the cake cannot be made until the ingredients are purchased.
Question – what is the critical path for this project?
Answer – 4 days
High level Gantt charts are very useful as part of business proposal templates as well, for communicating a credible project plan to a potential client.