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Primavera P6: Critical, or not so Critical?

by TheP6Pro
Many scheduling guidelines including the PMI’s PMBOK (Project Management Body of
Knowledge) use the term “near critical’ to describe activities in a schedule that are within a few
days of joining the critical path; that is to say they only have a few days of Total Float.
Because Primavera P6 Professional has such a flexible method for defining how activity bars
appear in a Gantt chart, you can create extra bars whose appearance can be controlled by the
amount of Total Float they have. This allows you to easily see near critical activities in a Gantt
This blog shows you how to create activity bars that appear different to standard red, blue and
green bars when the activity is near critical.
The process of creating a near critical bar starts with the creation of a Filter. This filter is then
used by an additional bar that you define in the Bars dialog of Primavera P6 Professional.
Create a Near Critical Filter
Open the Filters dialog and click on the New button.

Create the following filter:

This will show any activity whose Total Float falls within 0.1 days and up to 10.0 days. You
should test this filter on your schedule before proceeding to the next step.
Create a Near Critical Activity Bar
The next step is to create a new activity bar style in using the Bars dialog.
Right-click in the Gantt chart area of the Activities view to open the Bars dialog.

In the Bars dialog, scroll down to and select the current Critical Remaining bar in the table area.
This will cause a new bar to appear below the selected bar when you click the Add button.

Upon clicking the New button, a new default bar appears on below the selected row. You then
need to name this new Bar in the Name column; we suggest “Near Critical”.
In the Timescale column, set the value to “Remain Bar”, and then set the Filter column by
selecting both the Normal and Near Critical filters.
Finally set the Bar Style colors and patterns that you want for your near critical bar. In the
following example we’ve simply set the bar to an orange color.

Once you apply the new bar to your layout, you can see any near critical activities showing as
orange in the Gantt chart.

You can take this a lot further than just near critical. Using the same techniques, you could
create filters for ‘Potential Critical’ whereby the activity has between 10 and 30 days total float,
or perhaps even super-critical where there is negative float making a darker red bar appear. Of
course the different bars we can create based upon some condition are only limited by our
imaginations. One of our customers uses different bar colors to indicate a particular activity
code setting, to give just one example. Perhaps you have already made use of this capability? If
so, drop us a line – we’d love to hear about it.