A network diagram is an important element in any type of project management. It is a visual representation of the total project workflow in detail. There are many tools and software to create a network diagram. Therefore, in this article, we will show how to create a network diagram in excel with easy steps.
Download this sample file to practice by yourself.
What Is Network Diagram?
The network diagram is basically a chart composed of some boxes and arrows. Here, the boxes represent the activities performed and arrows show the sequence one after another according to a pre-developed schedule.
It also shows the interrelation of activities in different stages of the project. Moreover, a network diagram helps to determine the completion period of the task. Whether it was done early, or late, you can easily find that information from a single network diagram.
Types of Network Diagrams in Excel
Let us know the types of network diagrams in brief. In general, there are two types of network diagrams in project management:
1. Arrow Diagram Method (ADM)
This type of diagram depicts terminal activities through arrows. Here the length of the arrow is very important as it defines the duration of the activity. The precedences are represented by some circles that are connected with those arrows. Lastly, the tail and head show the start and end of the work respectively. But the Arrow Diagram Method (ADM) works only with a series of activities.
2. Precedence Diagram Method (PDM)
The Precedence Diagram Method (PDM) is more efficient in project management. Here, the activities shown in boxes are referred to as nodes. They are interconnected with arrows. The arrows define the start and end of each activity. The main advantage of PDM is it helps to show the internal correlation between several activities.
PDM shows the interrelation in these four ways:
- Finish-Start (FF): An activity needs to be done before going to the next one.
- Start-Start (SS): Here, both activities can start together at any stage.
- Finish-Finish (FF): Here, two tasks need to be completed together.
- Start to Finish (SF): This is an unusual case where one activity needs to start before the other is completed.
Step by Step Procedures to Create a Network Diagram in Excel
For illustration, here is a dataset showing the information on the stages of a project. The chronology defines the start-to-end of each stage in the Description column. They are labeled with alphabets for better understanding in column Label. It also shows the interrelation of activities with the title Predecessor. Lastly, it shows the duration of each activity.
Now, let’s create a network diagram based on this dataset.
Step 1: Make Initial Activity Chart in Excel
In the beginning, we will try to create a template for the activities. It will help to determine each term in the workflow. Let’s see the process below:
- First, select cell range B4:D6.
- In these selected cells, create a 9 X 9 box like this:
- Now, insert the titles according to the dataset like this:
Here, ES and EF define the early start and early finish of that specific activity. Also, LS and LF show late start and late finish where applicable.
Step 2: Insert Required Number of Activity List
Now, as we created a template for our activities, we will make the same chart for each of them. Follow the steps below:
- First, copy the template above.
- Then, select cell B8.
- After that, paste the selected chart.
- Lastly, insert the information in the Label, Description and Days boxes from the dataset.
- Follow the same procedure for all the activities.
- Here, is the final output of the activity list:
Step 3: Create Network Diagram in Excel
Lastly, we will create the network diagram. Check the steps here:
- First, select column I.
- Then, go to the View tab and select Freeze Panes.
- Now, select the first activity list located in cell range B8:D10.
- Then, right-click on it and select Copy. Otherwise, press Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
- After that, click on any cell beside the frozen pane.
- Here, right-click and go to Paste Special.
- Next, select Linked Picture.
- That’s it, you will get the cell in a picture format (see screenshot) that can be moved easily.
- Follow the similar process for each activity in the dataset.
- Lastly, connect them with arrows according to the Predecessor from the dataset (See screenshot).
Step 4: Proof of Method
Finally, we have our network diagram. The main purpose of this diagram is to edit values in the source and accordingly visualize them in the diagram. For this, follow the steps below as a proof of method:
- First, insert the MAX formula in cell B12.
Here, the value of EF of A determines the value of ES of B as it is the predecessor of this activity. Therefore, we used the MAX function to find the value.
- After that, press Enter.
- Next, insert the SUM formula in cell D12.
Here, the value of the ES and Days of B determines the value of EF as it is the summation of this specific activity. Therefore, we used the SUM function to find the value.
- Then, again hit Enter.
- That’s it, you can see that the ES and EF value has changed in the network diagram.
- Henceforth, try these formulas to find all the values based on their predecessors. You can also change any value and see the outcome in the network diagram.
How to Create a Network Flow Chart in Excel
Another type of network diagram is a flow chart in excel. The main difference between them is that the flow chart is not editable if you make changes in your dataset. Also, you can not gather all the information at once. Anyway, we will create a flow chart based on the activities in the dataset.
- First, go to the Insert tab and select Shapes under the Illustrations group.
- Then, select a shape from it under the FlowChart section.
- Now, type Start to begin the process.
- Following, insert different shapes and type the activity names.
- Along with it, connect them according to their predecessors with arrows.
- The final output looks like this:
Concluding the article with the hope that it was a helpful article for you on how to create a network diagram in excel with step by step guidelines. Let us know your feedback. Follow ExcelDemy for other excel blogs.