What is a Critical Path?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

1 minutes

Product Management

The term "Critical Path" refers to the sequence of tasks or activities in a project that determines the project's overall duration. It is the longest continuous path of dependent activities from the project's start to its end. Managing the critical path is crucial for ensuring that the project is completed on time.


Let's say you are developing a new Saas product. The critical path in this project might include activities like market research, product design, development, testing, and launching. If any of these tasks are delayed, it will directly impact the overall timeline of the project.


Understanding and managing the critical path is essential for effective Saas product management. It helps project managers identify the tasks that have the most significant impact on the project's completion date. By focusing on the critical path, managers can allocate resources, set priorities, and make necessary adjustments to ensure timely delivery of the product.

How to Use It

To determine the critical path, you need to map out all the tasks involved in your Saas product development process and identify their dependencies. Start by listing all the activities required to complete the project. Then, determine the duration of each task and their dependencies on other tasks. Once you have this information, you can use project management software or visual tools like Gantt charts to identify the critical path.

Useful Tips

  1. Identify dependencies accurately: To accurately determine the critical path, it is crucial to identify the dependencies between tasks correctly. A small error in identifying dependencies can lead to a skewed critical path analysis.

  2. Focus on critical tasks: Pay close attention to the tasks on the critical path as any delay in these tasks will directly impact the project's completion date. Allocate resources, monitor progress, and address any potential roadblocks promptly to ensure timely completion.

  3. Regularly update the critical path: As the project progresses, tasks may be completed ahead of schedule or delayed. It is essential to regularly update the critical path to reflect the current status of the project. This will help in identifying any new critical tasks that may emerge.

  • Gantt Chart
  • Project Management
  • Milestone
  • Task Dependency
  • Slack Time
  • Resource Allocation
  • Risk Management


A critical path in Saas product management refers to the sequence of tasks that must be completed in order to meet a specific deadline.
The critical path helps identify the most essential tasks and dependencies that directly impact the project's timeline. It allows product managers to prioritize activities and allocate resources effectively.
To determine the critical path, you need to identify all the tasks, estimate their durations, and define the dependencies between them. By analyzing this information, you can identify the longest sequence of tasks that must be completed without any delays.
If there is a delay in the critical path, it will directly impact the overall project timeline. Any delay in completing tasks on the critical path will result in a delay in delivering the Saas product.
Yes, the critical path can change during the course of Saas product management. As new tasks are identified or dependencies change, the critical path may need to be recalculated to ensure accurate project planning and resource allocation.
Float or slack time refers to the amount of time a non-critical task can be delayed without affecting the overall project timeline. Tasks on the critical path have zero float or slack time.
Saas product managers can manage the critical path effectively by closely monitoring task dependencies, identifying potential bottlenecks, and proactively addressing any issues or delays that may arise. Regular communication and collaboration with the project team are key.
Yes, there are several project management software tools available that can assist in critical path analysis for Saas product management. These tools help automate the calculation of the critical path, visualize dependencies, and track progress.
Some common challenges in managing the critical path include inaccurate task duration estimates, unexpected dependencies, resource constraints, and external factors beyond the control of the product manager. Flexibility and proactive planning can help overcome these challenges.
The critical path is a fundamental component of project scheduling in Saas product management. It helps determine the project's duration, identify tasks that cannot be delayed, and establish a realistic timeline for delivering the Saas product.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use It
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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