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Activity network diagrams are used to determine the forward and backward paths for a project, and consequently to determine the critical path or maximum time to development.

I'm already familiar with using work breakdown structures which break down functional requirements into necessary and sufficient deliverables, but I'm unsure of what stage of project planning activity network diagrams fit into.

for clarity my interpretation of the planning cycle.: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6m1-u6HxISZeGNCQ2JudXNyZ1U/edit?usp=sharing

Please could someone help me clarify this matter?

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    Can you make the google document public? – World Engineer Mar 30 '13 at 16:53
  • done. apologies :). – peter_gent Mar 30 '13 at 18:22
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Network analysis is between WBS and Gantt Chart:

  • Managing Information Technology Projects ¹ discusses Network Analysis in the second chapter: The Foundations of Project Management, just after the WBS and before the Gantt Chart.

  • The same is true for Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling ², where WBS is discussed in chapter 11: Planning, Network scheduling - in chapter 12, and Gantt Chart in chapter 13: Project Graphics.

In fact, in practice, the activity network is planned just after planning the WBS. It can hardly be done before, since it requires the elements which figure in WBS, and is required to do Gantt Chart with is based on the network analysis itself.

  • Project-wise, it is at the same stage as the WBS.

  • On the diagram from your question, if WBS is Define/Decompose stage, Gantt Chart would be at the very end (Develop schedule), and network analysis - somewhere behind the two, probably after estimating resources (in order to get a good idea of possible paths).


¹ Managing information technology projects: applying project management strategies to software, hardware, and integration initiatives by James Taylor, 2004, ISBN 0814408117

² Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner, 8th Ed., 2003, ISBN 0471225770

  • The gant chart exists for the purpose of resource allocation and 'levelling' ? – peter_gent Mar 30 '13 at 18:38
  • @peter_gent: I'm not sure I understand your question. The purpose of Gantt Chart is to present, graphically, the overall progress of the work to do, given the duration and dependencies of different steps. You may use it for resource allocation, but it's not its primary purpose, and there is no direct mapping between it and the list of resources you need at a given amount of time. – Arseni Mourzenko Mar 30 '13 at 18:44

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