In the last few years, I have come across three major deficiencies in the sports nutrition and fitness CPG industry; brand identity misalignment, channel conflicts, and poor project management.  This is where my company focuses the majority of our efforts with our clients.  We will dive into the poor project management deficiency in this #TacticTuesday, specially focused around the product development cycle.  In any given product development project, a sports nutrition and fitness CPG brand may have hundreds of tasks and dozens of dependencies. It can feel almost impossible to identify the most important tasks; the ones that, if missed, will impact your whole project.  This is why we focus our goals on highlighting the project’s critical path.  The critical path method, a project management technique, allows you to identify these important tasks and stay on track throughout your project.

So why is finding the critical path important?  The critical path method has three main benefits for a brand:

  1. Identifies the Most Important Tasks.  This is important because you probably won’t be launching just one product.  The key here is the need to create processes and procedures.
  2. Helps Reduce Timelines. Time is money.
  3. Compares Planned with Actual. With anything in business, this provides an opportunity to learn and improve for next product development cycle.

So how do we identify the critical path?

Step #1 – Specify each Task.  Yes I mean EVERY task!  This is tedious at first but it is 100% needed for the success of project management, regardless of the tool you use.

Step #2 – Establish Dependencies.  Almost every task will have something it is waiting on to be started or completed so you need to understand the relationships.

Step #3 – Draw a Visual Diagram.  See Below.

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Step #4 – Estimate Completion Times.  This should be done in a manner that is realistic but also challenging based on best/normal/worst case scenarios.

Step #5 – Identify the Critical Path.  See Below.

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This topic gets extremely more complex when you start talking about fast tracking, crashing, and other things that manipulate the constraints of project’s scope, timeline, and budget.  There is though many different project management software/app tools that are on the market.  I would suggest keeping it simple and using a free product like Trello or a familiar UI product like Microsoft Project.