For enquiries call:



HomeBlogProject ManagementWhat Is a Network Diagram in Project Management?

What Is a Network Diagram in Project Management?

30th Apr, 2024
view count loader
Read it in
8 Mins
In this article
    What Is a Network Diagram in Project Management?

    In this day and age of complex projects that span geographies, time zones, rapidly changing technology and requirements, having tools that enhance efficiency can greatly increase the chances of project success. Project Management tools that help to better manage resources and budgets and which help to track project progress are a boon for stressed and overworked project managers. In order to be a good project manager, one must have a thorough understanding of tools required and conflict management.

    One such tool is the network diagram in project management that gives a visual representation of the workflow of a project, thus allowing users to track the progress of the project at any time. In this blog, we look at the various characteristics and benefits of network diagrams in project management.

    Here is an article on  project description.

    What is a Project Network?
    Project Network

    Visual aids like project networks have been widely used in project management to help project managers and team members stay clued in on the progress of projects and share it with all those involved in the project.

     A project network, also called project activity network, is a graphical description of the sequence in which the terminal events or milestones of a project must be completed. The project network is similar to a flow chart. The terminal events of the network represent activities and deliverables derived from the work break down structure and are arranged sequentially like in a flowchart

    Project Networks can be created using techniques like Gantt Charts, PERT charts, and Critical Path Management. There are multiple paths in the project network but each terminal element must lie on only one path of the network. 

    Get to to know more about agile vs traditional project management.

    Project Management Network Diagram

    Network diagrams are used by Project Managers to track the progress of activities during the course of the project. In other words, they represent the workflow of the project. Those involved in the project can get a bigger picture of the activities and timeline of the project. Project network diagrams help everyone involved in the project to visually track the progress of every phase of the project from its inception to its completion. The network diagram is a chart and contains boxes and arrows. The boxes denote tasks and responsibilities, and the arrows denote the sequence in which the tasks must be completed and the schedule.

    The network diagram also shows how an activity relates to the other and the sequence of activities to be conducted. The precedence of activities as shown in the diagram is important, as some activities have to be completed before the next one starts.

    Network diagrams also help to determine the impact of finishing tasks early or late, on the overall project. Managers can use network diagrams to better allocate resources and schedule their timelines.

    But creating a network diagram requires a lot of planning. All activities must be identified and estimated as leaving even one task out from the network diagram can cause a cascading effect on the projected schedule, commitments, resource allocation and cost of the project.

    Know more about characteristics of project management.

    Types of Network Diagrams in Project Management

    Project network diagrams can be of two types:

    1. Arrow diagram method (ADM): 

    As the name suggests, this type of diagram uses arrows to depict terminal elements/activities.  The length of the arrows typically represent the duration or time taken for completing a particular activity or task. The tail shows the start of the task while the head shows the completion of the task. The order of activities or their precedence is represented by circles that are connected by arrows.
    The diagram may also contain dummy tasks that are used to show the inter-dependency between tasks. Dummy tasks, though, do not represent any real sequenced activity but they are more of check-points or milestones that may need to be completed on the way to moving forward with the next task.

    Advantages of the PDM are as follows:

    • Simple to create
    • Easy to understand
    • Helps track project schedule
    • Helps in ‘what if’ analyses

    Arrow Diagram Method (ADM)

    2. Precedence diagram method (PDM): 

    PDMs too, like ADMs are used in project management. The activities are represented by boxes or nodes. The arrows connecting them represent the relationship between the activities. Depending on the precedence of the activity, the arrows represent different relationships. For example, an arrow can be used to show that an activity cannot start before the completion of its predecessor or if both activities can be started simultaneously.

    Here are the four ways of developing the diagram and connecting the tasks based on precedence:

    • Finish-Start: An activity has to be completed before starting the next activity
    • Start-Start: Both activities can start together
    • Finish-Finish: Both tasks need to finish together
    • Start to Finish: This is a rare dependency and requires one activity to start before the other can be finished

    The duration for completion of the particular activity can be mentioned over the arrow connecting the activity to its successor.

    Advantages of the PDM are as follows:

    • Makes planning more efficient by focusing on relationships and dependencies between activities
    • Helps identify missing tasks
    • Critical tasks can be identified and prioritized
    • Helps in evaluating alternatives
    • Helps to share project timelines across the team and with stakeholders
    • Helps the project manager to better manage and control the project

    Precedence Diagram Method (PDM)

    Project Network Diagram Examples

    Here are two illustrations of project network diagrams to help you learn how to use them in project management. They illustrate the two primary forms of project network diagrams. Let me give two examples of how these kinds of diagrams are used in project management. 

    Critical Path Diagram  

    The Critical Path Diagram, which delineates the longest series of actions required to finish a project, is essential to project management. It indicates the vital route by displaying the consecutive operations with zero float or slack time, implying that any delay in these assignments will directly influence the project's deadline. This graphic assists project managers in identifying tasks that are essential to maintaining on schedule, guaranteeing that resources are deployed properly, and identifying probable obstacles ahead of time.  

    The Critical Path Diagram, visually depicted by nodes and arrows, clarifies the flow of operations, allowing teams to focus on critical tasks to avoid project delays. It's an essential scheduling tool that enables thorough planning, realistic timetables, and proactive handling of risks. 

    PERT Chart Network Diagram  

    The Network Diagram of the Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) is a graphical representation of a statistical approach to project scheduling. It uses 3-time estimates—optimistic, pessimistic, and probably—for each activity to create a weighted average duration. This diagram highlights project activities' inherent unpredictability and unpredictability, providing a more detailed perspective of the project schedule network diagram template. PERT charts help with risk assessment by showing tasks that are more likely to be delayed. 

    The PERT network diagram, featuring nodes and arrows linked with estimated durations, assists project managers and teams in estimating project duration, enabling better distribution of resources and risk-reducing measures. Its adaptability and insight in controlling and organizing projects stem from its ability to consider multiple time estimations. 

    Benefits of a Network Diagram

    Being visual aids, network diagrams have a lot of advantages, such as:

    • Aid for tracking projects
    • Sequential arrangement of project activities helps to better plan and schedule
    • Helps to visually monitor project status
    • Detailed representation helps identify critical activities
    • Helps identify risks in terms of time delay
    • Helps to identify co-dependent activities for tasks
    • Helps resolve issues that may arise in the course of the project
    • Can be shared with project team members
    • Useful for project team members who can better understand visual representations
    • Increases project productivity
    • Represents project scope on a macro level
    • Used to create project schedule
    • Helps in budget allocation
    • Helps to establish clear deadlines
    • Used to estimate the duration of the project
    • Helps in resource allocation as items are clearly represented
    • Accurate description of activities helps in getting funding and in getting together the right team
    • Enhances efficiency as teams are well aware of deadlines

    While there are a whole lot of advantages to network diagrams, there are also certain disadvantages:

    • Can be an expensive tool to create
    • May involve too many activities and tasks and may be difficult to understand
    • There may be errors when creating the network diagrams
    • Network diagrams can be misinterpreted that can lead to serious errors in the way the project is executed
    • May get effected by external factors

    By earning a PMP Certification, you will be equipped with the right skills and best practices to manage projects of all sizes and complexity.

    How to Make a Project Network Diagram? 

    When creating a project network diagram, it is critical to understand the chronology of activities as well as the beginning and ending points.  

    With the skills I acquired through promising Project Management Professional certification courses, I focus on clarity when drawing the design, eliminating clutter created by crisscrossing arrows. Straight, clean arrows make relationships between tasks easier to see. Each arrow indicates the flow of activities without specifying the amount of time. 

    Preserving a clear layout ensures that the diagram stays understandable, permitting stakeholders to quickly understand the project's trajectory. The lateral flow directs the eye across the logical sequence of tasks while identifying the start and finish points, offering an explicit structure for the project's timeframe. 

     Following these principles not only improves the readability of the diagram but also promotes positive interaction among teammates while establishing a common awareness of task linkages and project schedules. I recommend checking out the Prince2 certification online course to get started with your journey of creating impactful project network diagrams. 

    1. Create a Predecessor Table  

    A predecessor table is a straightforward table that displays activities in a single row and identifies the tasks that came before them in another. Begin by creating a predecessor table describing your project's order of actions. List every action and its dependencies, specifying the duties that must be performed before proceeding to the next. This table provides a clear knowledge of task linkages and responsibilities and acts as the basis for building the network diagram. 

    2. Identify the Activities for your Project Network Diagram  

    You must first plan your tasks before putting pen to paper. You are reluctant to start drawing your project network diagrams just after learning that you've overlooked some essential processes. There are also dependencies between tasks, which occur when a task cannot begin or end until another task begins or concludes. Using a structure for work breakdown, identify them and divide the project into stages. Then, you may begin constructing your network diagram in project management and determining the critical path. 

    3. Make a Rough Draft of your Diagram  

    On an even more basic level, begin by drafting your project network diagram. You can subsequently delete and rearrange elements until you create a highly effective scheduling network diagram. 

    Consider the type after you've completed the final design. Various fonts can highlight various design components, making your project network diagrams simpler to read. A description or key in the corner will also aid the viewer's knowledge.  

    Top Cities where Knowledgehut Conduct Project Management Certification Training Course Online

    Project Management Courses in LondonProject Management Courses in Singapore
    Project Management Courses in MelbourneProject Management Courses in Toronto
    Project Management Courses in SydneyProject Management Courses in Perth
    Project Management Courses in BangaloreProject Management Courses in Dubai
    Project Management Courses in MumbaiProject Management Courses in Brisbane

    Maximize your team's potential with agile management. Explore best agile training courses for enhanced productivity and collaboration.

    Developing a Network Diagram

    Developing a network diagram is not an easy task, in the sense that it requires a whole lot of homework to be done before being created. Project Managers or others who are involved with every aspect of the project and know the project requirements at a very detailed level are ideal candidates for creating the network diagram.

    The network diagram requires the involvement of people responsible for the different activities of the project. A well-done network diagram smoothens out the project path and ensures early identification of issues and bottlenecks.

    Requirements for creating a network diagram 

    As mentioned above, the creation of a network diagram in project management requires a whole lot of pre-planning. The following information must be at hand before the network diagram is created:

    • The start and end points of the project must be identified and defined
    • All project activities must be identified
    • Accurate estimation of the completion time of each activity must be carried out
    • Dependencies must be identified

    Network Diagram Tools

    There are several network diagramming tools available that are precise and make our job easier. Some of them include:

    • Microsoft Visio
    • Google Draw
    • Lucidchart
    • ConceptDraw Diagram
    • InterMapper
    • EdrawMax and more.

    Best Practices to be followed while creating Project Network Diagrams

    Network diagrams when created accurately can bring in a whole lot of benefits. Let’s look at the best practices to be followed while making the network diagram.

    • Use standard network diagramming symbols that are universally known and accepted
    • If using different symbols, make sure they are correctly defined
    • Always use straight arrows
    • Avoid crisscrossing arrows
    • Use minimum number of dummies
    • Arrows should be used from left to right
    • Use just one starting point or start event and one culmination point or end event
    • Use tools for more accuracy and lucidity
    • Make sure your diagram contains relevant and up to date information
    • The network diagram must contain the right amount of detail
    • Ensure that the data used to create the network diagram is accurate and well managed


    The network diagram in project management serves as a cornerstone in project management, providing a visual guide that helps us through the complexities of task relationships and process sequences. Its importance stems from its visual depiction and its capacity to improve our planning, allocating resources, and measures to reduce risk. 

    As a project manager, utilizing the network diagram means embracing an efficient instrument that improves our capacity to organize, communicate, and effectively traverse the intricacies of project management. Its importance in influencing the progress of our project and guaranteeing its early and efficient result cannot be emphasized. Along with strengthening your fundamental knowledge, I also recommend KnowledgeHut Project Management courses for beginners hoping to become a part of this dynamic world! 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1What is networking in project management?

    Networking in project management refers to the establishment and maintenance of relationships between participants, groups, stakeholders, and entities engaged in or grasped by a project. It entails making connections in order to ease interaction, cooperation, and the flow of knowledge and assets.

    2What is the basic concept of networking in project management?

    The fundamental premise of project management networking focuses on developing and cultivating relationships to effectively carry out a project. It entails establishing and maintaining relations with multiple persons, teams, stakeholders, and businesses throughout the project lifespan to allow productive interaction, cooperation, and utilization of resources.

    3What is the primary purpose of a network diagram?

    The fundamental purpose of a network diagram in project management is to clearly demonstrate task flow, connections, and interactions within a project. It is a straightforward and informative tool that aids in the task sequencing process, resource allocation, and project planning by displaying a logical sequence of tasks. It aids with efficient time management, assessment of risk, and interaction between stakeholders by emphasizing essential paths and potential risks.


    Kevin D.Davis

    Blog Author

    Kevin D. Davis is a seasoned and results-driven Program/Project Management Professional with a Master's Certificate in Advanced Project Management. With expertise in leading multi-million dollar projects, strategic planning, and sales operations, Kevin excels in maximizing solutions and building business cases. He possesses a deep understanding of methodologies such as PMBOK, Lean Six Sigma, and TQM to achieve business/technology alignment. With over 100 instructional training sessions and extensive experience as a PMP Exam Prep Instructor at KnowledgeHut, Kevin has a proven track record in project management training and consulting. His expertise has helped in driving successful project outcomes and fostering organizational growth.

    Share This Article
    Ready to Master the Skills that Drive Your Career?

    Avail your free 1:1 mentorship session.

    Your Message (Optional)

    Upcoming Project Management Batches & Dates

    NameDateFeeKnow more
    Course advisor icon
    Whatsapp/Chat icon