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Project Planning Process – Network Diagrams (#6 in the Hut A Quick Guide to Project Management)
By Manjeet Singh

The WBS allowed you to identify groups of activities that you need to accomplish in your project. However, the WBS does not show the dependencies or sequence between these activities. A network diagram will allow you to illustrate this. Once your network diagram is ready, only then can you realistically start determining your project’s schedule.

Here is a simplified network diagram for the “Build Shed” project:

Example Network Diagram

The above network diagram shows the relationships (arrows) between the main activities (rectangles) that are required to build a shed. You can flesh out the following information from the above diagram:

  • The Cut wood activity can be carried out in parallel to the Build shed base & Supervise cement hardening ones – this of course assumes that you have different teams working on each set of activities.
  • The dark arrows show what is known as the Critical Path (Buy materials->Build shed base->Supervise cement hardening->Assemble shed). The Critical Path is the sequence of activities that takes up the most time to complete your project. Any delay in this sequence of activities will impact the overall timeframe of your project. Therefore, you should carefully monitor all activities on this path.

Next in the Hut A Quick Guide to Project Management:

Project Planning Process – The Gantt Chart

Previously in the Hut A Quick Guide to Project Management:

Project Planning Process – The WBS

Manjeet Singh has over 17 years of experience acquired in a wide variety of industries with a focus on project and program management at Software Makers and Global IT Services companies throughout the world. Manjeet has an Executive MBA from the HEC Management School, and is the author of the website www.projectminds.com that provides a free guide to project management, and offers other project management-related resources.

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