The following activities were listed during a brainstorming session on product development:

ID Task Description Task Name Duration (weeks) Predecessors
1 Organize the office: Hire manager. a 6
2 Hire personnel: The manager will recruit and hire the people needed. b 4 A
3 Train personnel: Train the people hired to sell the product to the distributors. C 7 B
4 Select advertising agency: The manager will select the agency best suited to promote the new product. D 2 A
5 Plan advertising campaign: The office and advertising agency will jointly plan the advertising campaign to introduce the product to the public. E 4 D,c
6 Conduct advertising campaign: Theadvertisingagency will conduct a “watch for” campaign forpotential customers. F 10 E
7 Design package: Have packaging engineer design the package most likely to “sell.”  G 2 F
8 Set up packaging facility: Prepare to package the products when they are received from the manufacturer.  H 10 G
9 Package initial stocks: Package stocks received from the manufacturer. I 6 H,j
10 Order and receive stock from the manufacturer:Order the stock from the manufacturer.The time given includes the time for delivery. j 13 H
11 Select distributors: The manager will select the distributors whom the people will contact to make . k 9 a
12 Sell to distributors: Take orders from the distributors for the new product, with delivery promised for the product-introduction date. If orders exceed stock, assign stock on a quota basis. l 6 K,i
13 Ship stock to distributors: Ship the packaged stock to distributors in accord with their orders or quota. m 6 l


anayansi gamboa AON network

AON network

The critical path starts with task “a” and follows: a-b-c-e-f-g-h-i-j-l-m. The PM cannot allow any delay in any of those tasks because that will lead to a direct delay of the whole project. This is quite long critical path so that might be one of the problems that the PM will face.

One of the advantages for the PM might be the handling of tasks “d” and “k”.

Those are non-critical path tasks and they can be delayed. Task “d” has a slack of 15 weeks (LFT-EFT=17-2=15). Task “l” has a lot larger slack of 40 weeks (LFT-EFT=62-9=53). The PM can use the two slacks and complete the tasks “d” and “l” later that they require so that the PM can use the resources needed for those two tasks to complete tasks from the critical path. This is one of the ways to complete the project earlier, if the interconnections of the different tasks are not taken into account.

What managerial problems and opportunities do you see as a result of your work? what can you tell about the slack?

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Anayansi Gamboa, MPM, an EDC Developer Consultant and clinical programmer for the Pharmaceutical and Biotech industry with more than 13 years of experience.

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