Having the right resources working on the right projects goes a long way in delivering successful projects. But how do you know which resources to allocate to with project?
This is where network analysis in project management becomes beneficial. This management technique enables project managers to identify all the necessary tasks needed to complete a project, how long they will take, and the most appropriate resources to complete these task. It helps ensure smooth project completion within expected time, resources and budget.
In this guide, we’ll explain network analysis and how it can come in handy for project management.
What is Network Analysis?
Network analysis is used to plan, schedule, and control unique and complex projects. The technique analyzes different activities associated with a project by breaking them down into smaller activities or tasks. These more minor activities are then organized according to a logical sequence.
During a network analysis, the project manager prepares a network diagram to represent all project activities visually. The diagram illustrates the cost of various activities and reveals the relationship between multiple tasks.
This project planning approach helps project managers complete projects on time and within a set budget, all while utilizing minimum resources. Network analysis in project management reduces operational costs, total time, and conflicts. It also reduces the wastage of project resources.
Techniques Used in Network Analysis
Project managers can use different network techniques in network analysis. Some of them are:
1. Graphical Evaluation Review Technique (GERT)
Graphical Evaluation Review Technique (GERT) is an approach used to estimate how long a project will take. This tool allows project managers to consider probability when making network logic and activity duration estimates. In this approach, the managers assume that it’s impossible to tell the outcome of future events. However, it’s possible to deduce whether or not they’re likely to happen and act based on this probability.
2. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) is a project planning technique used to calculate how long—realistically—it can take to complete a project. Project managers use PERT charts to plan tasks within a project—making it easier to assign these tasks to team members. PERT allows project managers to make three different time estimates for their projects:
- The shortest possible amount of time each task will take
- The most likely amount of time
- The most extended amount of time tasks will take should things not go as planned
- 3. Critical Path Method (CPM)
The Critical Path Method (CPM) is used to identify tasks necessary for project completion, identify task dependencies and create flexible schedules. A critical path is the longest flow of activities that must be finished on time for the entire project to be complete. The entire project will be delayed if critical tasks are delayed.
4. Resource Allocation and Multi-project Scheduling (RAMS)
Resource Allocation and Multi-Project Scheduling (RAMPS) is the process of managing project resources to meet an organization’s needs. Project managers use RAMPS to effectively allocate tasks to employees and human capital. RAMS also helps managers balance competing priorities, determine the most effective course of action to maximize limited resources and make investment returns.
5. Critical Operating Production Allocation Control (COPAC)
Critical Operating Production Allocation Control (COPAC) is a technique that enables project managers to ensure that production and operations are executed as planned. COPAC allows project managers to coordinate materials, equipment, and human resources to facilitate production and operating efficiency. The project manager can analyze the most efficient production sequence and then ensure that they allocate the necessary materials and labor to the project.
6. Least Cost Scheduling (LCS)
Least Cost Scheduling is a technique that reduces a project’s duration at an optimum cost. It involves determining the least possible time to complete an activity by utilizing extra resources without going above the optimum cost.
7. Project Control System (PCS)
Project Control Systems are the procedures used to collect, manage, and analyze data to control a project’s time and cost outcomes.
Objectives of Network Analysis
Network analysis is a robust project planning, scheduling, and control tool. This tool aims at:
- Minimizing idle resources: A network analysis enables project managers to avoid cost increments due to idle resources.
- Minimizing the total project cost: Network analysis techniques such as Least Cost Scheduling help project managers calculate the total project cost. Once they have an estimate, they can make an effort to minimize this cost by calculating the cost of delay in the completion of an activity in addition to the cost of the resources necessary to complete the project in a given period.
- Trading off between time and cost of project: Network analysis enables teams to cut down the time it takes to complete activities by allocating extra resources to the project. However, teams need to be careful not to stretch the activities beyond the most cost-efficient duration (normal point) to avoid a rise in direct cost.
- Minimizing production delays, interruptions, and conflicts: Network analysis enables project managers to reduce delays, interruptions, and conflicts by identifying all project activities, their precedence constraints, etc.
- Network Analysis in Project Management
Large complex projects require numerous different activities to be performed to complete them. Successful completion of such projects also involves the efficient allocation of resources. Network analysis in project management gives project managers insights into the required tasks, their dependencies, and their order of priority. These insights then guide the project managers on efficiently allocating resources to the project.
Implementing a project management tool such as Mission Control can enhance your network analysis. The software features Gantt charts that enable teams to visualize tasks and map their dependencies. They also allow project managers to organize tasks in order of priority.
Role Utilization feature enables the project manager to allocate tasks to the appropriate team members. They can use the Kanban feature to monitor how these team members work and ensure that they stay focused on priority tasks.
Team members can log time to tasks assigned to them using Timesheets. The project manager can benefit from this feature through a visual overview of the workload of each team member. They can also keep track of hours utilized in work.
Ready to maximize the power of network analysis? Contact us today for a demo.