A project consists of various disciplines. Each discipline has its unique set of activities. Execution of these activities leads to fulfillment of a project goals. Project network analysis brings all project activities on a single platform. As a result of which project work can progress unhindered. Further, project schedule analysis helps to identify logically related project activities that need maximum attention of the project team. Moreover, project schedule network analysis also optimizes deployment of resources to meet project goals. This further helps in better realization of project goals and increase in efficiency.
Schedule Network Analysis in Project Management
Project schedule network analysis is an analytical technique to identify critical path and list of critical project activities. It further specifies the degree of schedule flexibility in a given network logic. The output of this analysis is a schedule model. This project schedule model serves as a basis for further project execution, analysis, and reporting. Critical Path Method (CPM) is the most common schedule analysis technique.
Advantages of Schedule Network Analysis
The Schedule network analysis allows all stakeholders are aware of activities that define project success. It is an essential project management tool that finds application in not only schedule development but also schedule control process.
Following are some of the advantages of performing project schedule network analysis
- Sequence of Activities: Schedule network analysis specifies the logical sequence of activities required to achieve project goals. It uses sequencing and dependencies to establish activity relationships.
- Critical Path: Schedule network analysis uses techniques like CPM and PERT to identify the critical path of a project. The critical path is the longest path of a schedule network diagram. Refer to paragraph “Critical Path Method (CPM) Scheduling” to understand other features of critical path.
- Project Duration: It analytically estimates the minimum duration before which the project cannot complete.
- Critical Activities: Not all activities can start and finish at the same time. Activities on critical path are critical activities. Hence schedule network analysis indicates exactly which activities need maximum attention of project team.
- Schedule flexibility: It is permissible delay in activities that are not on critical path. It uses mathematical calculations to establish early start, early finish, late start, and late finish of each activity.
- Schedule Model: It is the output of analysis process. The schedule model helps to conduct risk and scenario analysis of project schedule.
- Schedule Analysis: The schedule model allows further analysis like What-if analysis, scenario analysis and schedule compression techniques.
Relationships Between Schedule Activities
Firstly, an important step in schedule network analysis process is to establish logical relationships among schedule activities. Understanding relationships among activities allows construction of logical schedule network diagram. The following post helps to understand how to establish relationships among project activities.
Types of Schedule Network Diagrams
Secondly, it is essential to construct the schedule network diagram. An important benefit of using schedule network analysis is that it allows visual representation of the project schedule. To achieve this it uses network diagramming techniques. The following two techniques help in constructing project schedule network diagram:
- Precedence Diagram Method (PDM)
- Arrow Diagram Method (ADM)
Precedence Diagram Method (PDM)
In PDM technique nodes represent the schedule activities. A graphical link between the nodes establishes logical relationships. The links also shows the sequence of performing the schedule activities. Activity-On-Node (AON) is one such method of representing the schedule network logic using the PDM technique. Critical Path Method (CPM) uses AON method for constructing the project schedule network diagram.
Arrow Diagram Method (ADM)
In Activity-On-Arrow (AOA) method arrows represent the schedule activities. AOA is an example of constructing the project schedule network diagram using ADM technique. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) uses AOA technique to construct the project schedule network diagram.
Schedule Network Analysis Methods
Following are the two most popular project network analysis techniques.
- Program Review and Evaluation Technique (PERT)
- Critical Path Method (CPM)
Following are the other methods to analyse a project schedule network diagram
- Critical Chain Method (CCM)
- What-if Analysis
- Resource Optimization Techniques
Program Review and Evaluation Technique (PERT)
Program evaluation and review technique uses three point estimation to calculate the duration estimates. However, PERT is used mainly to control the time aspect of projects.
Also read:Program Evaluation And Review Technique
Critical Path Method (CPM) Scheduling Technique
Critical Path Method (CPM) is the most common schedule network analysis methodology. CPM analysis also calculates early start, early finish, late start and late finish with ease. Moreover, CPM is used mainly to control both time and cost aspects of the project.
Schedule Network Critical Path
Schedule network analysis technique chiefly identifies the critical path. Both PERT and CPM aim to establish critical path and critical activities of a project. The following snapshot enumerates critical path characteristics.
Schedule Network Analysis Solved Example
Solving problems further simplifies the learning process and enhances the understanding of basic concepts. Following post enumerates steps involved in project schedule analysis process using the critical path method technique.
For differences between CPM and PERT, please read
For schedule development process, you may please read the following post.
Also read the following post for a comprehensive list of project management formulas for pmp examination.
To summarize, project schedule network analysis is an essential project scheduling and controlling tool. As a matter of fact, critical path method (CPM) is the most common technique. The output of project schedule analysis is a project schedule model. Further, a project schedule model has essential information like critical path, list of critical activities and the total float. Moreover, schedule model is an input for further modeling techniques such as what-if analysis and simulation.