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The Purpose of a Project Network Diagram | OVERGantt

Many project managers have challenges in meeting their deadlines and completing projects on time. To ensure that they stay within the project’s target timeline, they utilize a wide range of tools to keep their teams on track. One of these tools is the project network diagram, originally developed in the 1950’s.

A network diagram helps managers and team members visualize the tasks they need to complete throughout the project. This visual representation uses several series of arrows and boxes linking one another to show the activities, project durations, sequences, and dependencies of a project.

If you’re curious about how this method can help your team, it’s best to learn more about how a project network diagram works and what it’s for.

Types of Project Network Diagrams 

There are two types of network diagrams that project managers use. The time-scaled, arrow diagramming method (ADM) and the non-time-scaled, precedence diagramming method (PDM). The main difference between the two is how the tasks are represented via illustrations. Both methods have their respective pros and cons and both can be confusing.

Two Main Ways of Creating a Project Network Diagram 

A network diagram can be created manually on large whiteboards or digitally with software. A manually crafted diagram promotes team discussion and helps visually understand the project plan. However, it can be time-consuming to build and update. Upon completion, the data must be transferred into some type of software in order to communicate with team members and manage the project. Accuracy is paramount.

Network diagram software attempts to replicate the manual process and visual representation with either the ADM or PDM approach. Using software to plan a network diagram is challenging. Most available applications revert to using more traditional Gantt charts to create the plan. They then display a modified version of the network diagram, producing an alternative version of the plan. Dedicated software that creates network diagrams, and do it easily, is hard to find.

Uses of a Project Network Diagram 

The main purpose of a network diagram is to make project planning easier through a more visually intuitive plan. It shows the sequential and logical relationship among tasks much more clearly, creating a ‘workflow’ map of your project schedule. It can also work surprisingly as well as a tracker for all of the project tasks.

Benefits of Using a Project Network Diagram 

An accurate network diagram gives an overview (roadmap) of the project, including the critical path. In addition to the schedule and activities, it also shows the task dependencies. This is helpful for any project manager as they can easily identify constraints and potential risks.. While project managers are very familiar with different project management graphs and illustrations, other team members may not understand them so well. With a network diagram, everyone in the team can easily visualize the project along with the vital details.

They Help Determine and Verify Tasks and Dependencies 

Since the project network shows all the tasks and how they are related to each other from the start until the end, it provides a better way to illustrate and validate the project’s tasks and logic links.

They Establish Project Workflows 

As a visual representation of the project, the diagram accurately shows every task and its details. It provides an easy-to-follow workflow everyone in the team can comprehend. By visually depicting data, it improves the team’s retention of the project activities. This boosts the members’ performance and productivity.

They Assist in Tracking Project Progress 

By displaying the sequence of tasks from the beginning until the completion of the project, the diagram can also help monitor project progress. This way, if there are any delays they can address them immediately.

They Provide Opportunities for Schedule Compression 

Apart from showing delays, a network diagram can identify opportunities to adjust the schedule. When delays are encountered, the diagram can provide a clear overview of how the schedule (using available float) can be compressed. Also, the diagram will show which tasks are completed ahead of time, allowing for the reassignment of personnel to other tasks.


There are many tools available to project teams. Many of them focus on improving the execution of the project plan. All too few focus on creating a better plan. The network diagram, using the latest technology along with the most advanced methods, is an exceptional advantage for a wide range of projects, from small to large.

OVERGantt™ (Patent Pending), by EndFirst Plans, is an advanced combination of network diagramming tools using a refined set of planning methods. Its greatest benefit is a significant reduction of errors, omissions and rework that cause schedule and budget overruns.

If you are planning a project and need guidance in your project planning, then get in touch with us today by email on

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