Schedule Network Analysis in Project Management

Introduction to Schedule Network Analysis

A Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holder can create a schedule network diagram, conduct schedule network analysis, and use the critical path method to manage the schedule toward desired results.

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Introduction to Schedule Network Analysis

Schedule network analysis is a vital project management scheduling technique, in addition to the schedule network diagram tool and the critical path method.

The project activity sequence is used to create a network diagram to visualize the project activities that must be completed to reach the project’s goals. High-priority activities may be elements found on the critical path, the sequence of activities representing the longest path through a project. The project manager conducts schedule network analysis to identify potential bottlenecks and risks to the timeline.

Schedule network analysis and critical path are potential topics within Project Management Institute (PMI) PMP® certification exam. Informal labels include “schedule network analysis technique PMP” or “schedule network analysis PMP.”

What is a Schedule Network Diagram?

A schedule network diagram is a graphical representation of the project’s activities. Begin on the left with the project start, and work right towards documenting all project activities until you reach the project end. Activities are mapped out in the order of planned occurrence, left to right, with arrows to connect dependent activities. You can use project management software to generate a schedule network diagram.

A schedule network diagram is a graphical representation of the project’s activities. Begin on the left with the project start, and work right towards documenting all project activities until you reach the project end. Activities are mapped out in the order of planned occurrence, left to right, with arrows to connect dependent activities. You can use project management software to generate a schedule network diagram.

Schedule Network Diagram

Include information such as duration, time lags, or float between activities to enhance the project manager’s ability to do an analysis. Use a schedule network diagram, with regular diagram updates, to monitor changes to the project’s schedule, paying particular attention to the critical path.

The critical path is the longest activity sequence needed to complete the project, which is always the longest sequence of tasks or activities. Project managers need to know the critical path to make informed schedule decisions.

Best Practices for Schedule Network Analysis

Think of these best practices as a Schedule Network Analysis checklist:

  1. Have a clear understanding of project objectives and scope to identify the duration of project tasks
  2. Work with your team to create a detailed project schedule with all tasks, milestones, and dependencies
  3. Use software to visualize the network diagram for easier identification of the critical path and potential risks
  4. Regularly update the network diagram during the project to better identify changes and make adjustments
  5. Communicate analysis results to your team and stakeholders, so everyone understands the importance of monitoring the critical path to avoid risks and schedule delays

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Why Schedule Network Analysis Should Be Prioritized

Risks of not conducting schedule network analysis include:

  • delays if critical tasks are not completed on time
  • budget increases from unexpected costs
  • failure to meet project objectives if critical milestones are not achieved
  • demoralization and demotivation of the team due to a lack of clarity on the project’s critical path

Summary

A schedule network diagram is a graphical representation of the critical path of a project. Schedule network diagrams can be generated by software or simply sketched by hand. The schedule network analysis technique is used to understand the project’s critical path. PMP credential holders know that by understanding the critical path, they can better prioritize tasks and identify schedule risks.

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PMP Certification Training
Dec 5,6,7,8 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Jan 30,31,Feb 1,2 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Dec 12-15 & 19-22 12:00pm-4:30pm
Online - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)


Author profile
Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy
Megan Bell