Project management is key to success of any business. Bef ore I begin, there is also a misconception about Projects, that I must shed light onto. Project is not necessarily something that requires years to process, hiring new labor, inputting loads of investment and having plenty of complexities. Project can be anything that requires a series of task, a set of inputs and an investment. Even if it only takes a few days or weeks!
Network analysis is basically time management of any project.
In the picture above, all the alphabets A, B up to J are basically the series of activities involved. The numbers under these alphabets represent the time for that particular activity. The circles or the nodes also represent a few things. On the left half of node, is the node number. The right top quarter represents the Earliest possible starting time for the next task and the right lower quarter represents the latest finish time for the task.
The main part to be focused here is the Critical path. The critical path is the longest path on the network diagram. This is what tends to take the most amount of time. By identifying and understanding the Critical path the managers are able to understand the main reason why the project is going to take a long time. By focusing mainly on activities on a critical path, like adding an extra labor or using higher machinery or using better raw materials the Manager can reduce the time of activities on the critical path. This can help to reduce the overall time of the project.
There is a lot in making the network analysis, but it can be easy to understand once the main concept has been grasped. The arrows from one node to another show how one activity is followed by another. This means that e.g. E cannot start unless A is finished. Similarly, J cannot start until D and F has been finished. The dotted line between J and D represent a dummy activity.
A very important thing that must be considered is that, the node where there is a difference between EST and LFT, lies a float. A float is where you have some ease in terms of time. Let’s take a look at G, H, I. We know that I is followed by both G and h. That is, until G and H both complete I cannot start. G starts at 3(look at EST) and can end at 5. But H which also starts at 3, cannot end before 8. This means that I cannot be started until 8. G will be done by 5. So there is a float on this activity.
These were the main things that needed attention when making a Network analysis. Let’s do an overview, in terms of benefits and drawbacks.
The main benefits of having Network analysis are that:
- You can explain the tasks to your fellow team members in the simplest possible way. Instead of mentioning them individually, they can be understood in a much quicker and comfortable way.
- Resources from activities with floats (like G) can be transferred to activities without float (like H). This can help better accomplishment of activities.
- With each activity separated like this, the managers know when and how to arrange the finances and resources. Thus removing any possibility of delays or hurdles.
- Understanding critical path can help reduce the overall duration of the project and understand the sensitivity of each activity.
However, there are also some problems with Network analysis.
- Giving a fixed amount of time to each activity cannot always be an easy task. They are based on assumptions and can require a lot of experience to give accurate figures.
- Sometimes resources from once activity can simply not be transferred to another activity. E.g If there is a 3rd party involved in doing an activity and a fixed time is already given.
Either way, Network analysis is a good tool for project managements. Of course in Business success there are countless tools and way to deal with problems. However, many drops is what makes an ocean. Many smaller and effective actions can lead to long term success.