Sequencing the activities in a project: Concept of Network Diagram

by on January 20, 2012 in Course Preparation, PMP®, Project Management

Sequencing the activities in a project: Concept of Network Diagram
Precedence Diagramming Method
Precedence Diagramming Method

Introduction:

As a project manager you are the boss of your project. You are the person responsible from the initiation of the project till closing of the project. You have to plan your project perfectly aligning the project requirements or project objectives. So many project managers can create work breakdown structure effectively but unable to process the project and that’s why the project failure in result. You should plan your project considering all the available project management skill, knowledge, and tools and techniques.

Creating a good work breakdown structure is not sufficient for running a successful project. You have to document the activity required to fulfill the requirement of the work package (the lowest manageable level of work breakdown structure) and you must know the relationship in these activities. You must know the sequences in the activities so that you can monitor and control your project effectively. How do you do the same? Why sequencing is so much important in the project management? Let me explain the same one by one.

What you need for sequencing the activities:

For sequencing you must have five things in your hand like activity list, activity attributes, milestone list, project scope statement, and your organizational process assets. PMI recommends all these as inputs for sequencing the activities. Why these are important? Without knowing the project scope statement, you can’t do sequencing in your project. You must need the details of product scope while sequencing. And now you are sequencing your activities, so you must have the list of activities in your hand and must have the characteristics of the activity as well e.g., what work need to do for that activity … after this only you can sequence your activities. Additionally, you should know the milestone dates for these activities as well so that you can give preference to your activities attributes and can create a worth relationship in the activities balancing the project requirements as per your esteemed client. What this process is? This is known as Network Diagram in a project management.

Precedence Diagramming Method:

As a project manager you should go with Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM). PDM is a method used for constructing a network diagram that uses boxes (also known as nodes) to represent the activities and arrows that connects with other boxes creating a logical relationship between these activities and hence sequencing the activities. It is an easy task for a project manager provided he or she has good project management knowledge.

In this way, fixing the durations required per activity, you can derive the longest path for your project, that is, Critical Path Method (CPM) of your project. After getting CPM, you can compute total float in your project, float with the particular activity, and in this way, you can put or rather you can utilize your resources accordingly.

In PDM, there are four types of dependencies. They are as follows:

Finish to start: An activity must finish before the successor can start.

Finish to finish: An activity must finish before the successor can finish.

Start to start: An activity must start before the successor can start.

Start to finish: An activity must start before the successor can finish. It is very rare to found.

Through PDM, you can analyze where to use schedule compression. Suppose, you are mid way of your project and client asked you to submit the deliverables ten days prior to the delivery schedule. What would you do now?

Ideally, you should apply your project management skills and knowledge here. There comes your test now as a project manager. That’s why you are here in the project. This is totally your responsibility now to handle this project effectively. Remember there is no cutting in scope, quality, and resources – there is no budget constraint also. What you should do? You should check your network diagram – which activities can be started concurrently (Fast Tracking)? You should see your network diagram to check the activities with longest float so that you can apply crushing (adding more resources to an activity for an early completion) in your project. All you can do only through the knowledge of the network diagram.

As a project manager, you must do this religiously. And I am sure, through this approach, you will be delivering the output as per the client’s desire. Nobody can stop you, if you have created your network diagram with the logical relationship among the activities effectively in your project. This is the way to handle your project ideally.

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