Network Diagram - Types, Topology and Use in Project Management

By Aradhya Kumar

Last updated on Feb 1 2022

Network Diagram - Types, Topology and Use in Project Management

Network Diagram: An Essential Tool for Effective Time Management

Network diagrams are an illustration of a telecommunications or computer network.It shows the various components that comprise the network and the way they work together, such as hubs, routers, devices and firewalls, among others.The diagram of a network shows the components of a neighborhood region (LAN): (LAN):

Based on the scope and intent, a network flow diagram can include a lot of information or simply provide an overview.For instance, a diagram for the LAN may show all the IP addresses for the computers and the diagram of the man (metropolitan region network) might represent zones or buildings that have a single node.

A diagram of networks can be either logical or physical.

A logical network diagram explains how information flows within networks. Thus, logical diagrams usually show the subnets (including the VLAN's ID, masks and addresses) as well as network devices such as routers as well as firewalls as well as routing protocols.

Within the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, logical diagrams of networks correspond to the information within Layer 3. (L3). Also called “the "network layer," L3 is an abstraction layer that handles forwarding packets via intermediate routers. Level 2 is the level that shows the data links between nodes while level 1 shows the physical layout


Network Topology Diagram

Network topology diagrams are an image representation of a network's devices connections and paths which allows you to see how the devices are connected and how they interact with each other. In order to represent any one or more of the three layers of a network (physical, data link and network) in accordance with the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, also called the layers of media, they create Network diagrams.

Network topology is the arrangement of links and nodes within a specific mechanism and plan. In terms of the word, network topology is the way in which the components of a network which are responsible for the connection between the devices of a network are arranged to prevent errors, provide greater bandwidth, and secure the network, etc.

The diagram of the network topology is presented in two different ways. The logical topology of the network and the physical topology of the network.

Physical topology in networks refers to the arrangement of computers, cables as well as other devices. The term "physical topology" should not be confused with the logical one which is utilized to transmit information between workstations.  

Topologies come in two varieties comprising physical topology as well as the logical topology.

Physical topology is the arrangement of other devices and devices within the computer network. It covers the physical layout of computers, nodes and cables, device locations and installation of code.

Logical Topology is the method by which the logical flow of data within a network occurs. It is defined by the protocol for network and defines how data moves across the network. It's the structure of the internal communications between devices.

Different topologies have different effects on stability and performance. The most popular topologies include:

  • Topology of the bus. Each device is connected to the same cable, with two ends. It's easy and economical but it can be prone to interruptions for all devices, as well as complex troubleshooting.
  • Ring topology. The devices are connected in an arc. The network may run more efficiently than in a bus topology. Terminators aren't necessary, but one failure can disrupt the entire network and can be difficult to fix.
  • Star topology. A common topology used for larger networks. All data flows through the central hub that connects to the other devices in the network. It's reliable in the event that the central hub fails however; it could be costly to setup and to use.
  • Mesh topology. A secure topology in which the devices are connected and data is transferred via routing (sent the most efficient distance) and flooding (sent to all devices). Because there is no single source of failure, it's safe and reliable, however the complexity of it results in high costs and long configuring.
  • Hybrid topology. A network made up by two or more different topologies. They are typically utilized in larger organizations Hybrid topologies can provide flexibility, with the disadvantage of being complicated, difficult to manage and expensive.


Network Diagrams in Project Management

As a project manager or a member of a team on a project you should be familiar with network chart diagrams, often referred to as the project schedule diagram. Free Network diagram software for projects is an essential tool as it aids teams to visualize the tasks that must be completed throughout the duration of the project. It also provides important context like the duration of tasks as well as sequence and dependencies.

A diagram of a project's schedule depicts the logical and sequential connection between tasks within an environment for project. The visualization is based on the precise expression of the time-line of events and tasks.

Majority of the time, the diagram will be presented by a chart using an array of boxes and the arrows. The tool for creating such a diagram is utilized to outline the work schedule and timetable for the project, as to track the progress of the project through each stage all the way to the conclusion. Because it includes the huge work that will be performed throughout the duration of the project, it is also helpful to show the full extent of the undertaking.

The benefits of the diagram of project management network

It permits project managers to monitor every element of a plan and share the information with other people. Other benefits of include:

  • Visual representation of progress made by the stakeholders
  • Setting up workflows for projects
  • Monitoring dependencies and bottlenecks that could be a cause for concern

Research also suggests that displaying information in a visual manner can enhance comprehension and increase retention. In other words, the use of a diagram network can improve efficiency and productivity, while decreasing stress in your team members


Types of project network diagrams


An Arrow Diagram

Also known as “activity on arrow diagram or activity-based network diagram. Diagram of the network, activity chart Node diagram chart of critical path method (critical pathway method) chart

Variation PERT (program evaluation and review technique) chart

An arrow diagram can be described as a diagramming process that is used to determine the best sequence of events and their interconnectedness.It is utilized to plan as well as to determine the crucial routes through nodes.The arrow diagramming technique shows the necessary order of tasks within a process or project and the most efficient plan for the whole project, as well as possible scheduling and resource issues as well as solutions.Arrow diagrams allow you to identify what is the "critical path" of the project, the sequence of crucial actions where delays could impact the pace of the project, and when adding resources can accelerate the process.

The materials required are Cards or sticky notes with marking pens, as well as large writing surfaces (newsprint or flipchart page).


How to draw one of the types of network diagrams
  1. Write down all the tasks that are required for the project or the process.One approach is to list each task on the top portion of a notepad or note.In the center of your card make a vertical arrow pointing to the right.
  2. Choose the right sequence for the tasks.Begin by asking 3 questions to each task:
    • What tasks need to be completed before the process can start?
    • What tasks can be completed in parallel?
    • What are the tasks that should be completed following this task? Tips: Create a table with four columns: previous tasks and this task, as well as simultaneous tasks, and following tasks to make it easier to use.
  3. Draw the task's network.If you're using cards or notes put them in order across a big piece paper.The flow of time should be from left to right, and simultaneous activities should align vertically.Space should be left between the cards.
  4. Between two activities, make circles to represent "events."A "event" is a sign of the start or end of a task. It can also aid in visualizing the tasks.
  5. Take a look at the three typical issues below, and then redraw these with "dummies" (not real tasks) or additional events.Dummies are arrows drawn using dotted lines to differentiate the tasks that otherwise begin and finish using the same sequence of events, or to illustrate logical order.
    • Two tasks simultaneously start and finish with the same event.
      • Solutions: Use a dummy and an additional event, divide the two.In the figure Event 2 and the dummy that is between 2 and 3 are added to separate the tasks A and B.
    • Task C can't begin after both B and task A have been completed A fourth task, D can't begin until A is completed however, it is not required to wait for B.(See Figure 2.)
      • Solutions: Use a dummy between the completion of task A until the starting of Task C.
    • A second task may be started prior to the time that the first part is completed.
      • Solutions: Add an extra event in which the second task may start and utilize multiple arrows to split the first task into two tasks.In the figure 3 the event 2 was added, dividing the task A.

Precedence Diagram Method (Pdm)

Precedence Diagram Method (PDM) represents a visually appealing tool which depicts the tasks involved in the course of a project. It's a method of making a simple Network Diagram using boxes or nodes to represent the activities and connects them using arrows to illustrate the relationships.

It is important to note that the Methodology for Evaluation of Programs and Reviews (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM) techniques are mostly restricted only to "finish-start" relationships (i.e. that activity B is not able to begin until activity A has been completed). PDM was designed following the PERT/CPM methods and serves to allow a better and more precise depiction of the connections between various activities.

The Precedence Diagram is illustrated using a chart of nodes as well as their relationships. An arrow connects two of the nodes to signify a relationship that is active. It's also known as an arrow diagram. This can be better understood with help of network diagram examples.


Precedence Diagram Method (PDM) Benefits

There are many benefits to be gained through the PDM. The benefits include:

  • The report highlights the relationships and dependencies between actions to help ensure efficiency in planning.
  • Identifies possible missing activities.
  • It helps identify the most important tasks to allow for better planning.
  • Contributes to the overall schedule for the project.
  • Excellent tool for communicating with team members on a project.


Network Switch Diagram

The switch can be used to enhance network performance through segmentation.

Computer networks in most situations require the design of topology using switches.

The diagram of the network switch illustrates how the switch is connected to all other devices on the computer network.

Concept Draw includes a variety of graphics element for network switches that are pre-designed from all kind of networks:

  • Cisco Networks
  • Apple Networks
  • IVR Networks
  • GPRS Networks
  • Rack Diagrams
  • In network diagrams switches represent the multiple Ethernet ports that allow the connectivity of several devices.Switch symbols are also helpful in illustrating the transfer of information over Telecommunication networks.
  • Bridge symbols join two Ethernet networks into one bigger expanded Ethernet network.Bridge symbols are particularly important in describing networks separated by geographical distance.Because bridge forms predate switch shapes, they are rarely used except when they're referring to bridges that are wireless.

In the context of Data Flow Diagrams, Diagrams of networks and data flow diagrams are emphasized within PCI Requirement1. In fact the PCI DSS places so much importance on a well-designed diagram that they have it in the initial stage of their Prioritized Approach which is the preferred method to address inconsistencies.

However, PCI is not the only instance where data flow and basic network diagrams are acceptable.In any situation where an organization holds sensitive information, both of these documents are crucial in an audit.They provide crucial knowledge and insight into the surrounding environment faster than other pieces of documentation.How do you make efficient diagrams of networks?How do you design efficient data flow diagrams?

A network flow diagram shows information flow across networks.Digital systems usually comprise network-connected systems that have functions that are distributed across several nodes.For instance in an e-commerce store, data could move from the order system, to invoice or payment systems, as well as logistics systems.

A diagram of a network's flow identifies the data routes that it traverses, the internal and external nodes that the data is processed or stored, and the reason for the nodes.Diagrams of network flow are crucial for understanding the environment that houses sensitive data and also to help in risk mitigation and the implementation of information security laws.


Project Schedule Network Diagram

If you are planning the tasks of a project, you may want to think about making use of a project schedule network diagram tool.This is a tried and tested method for determining and capturing the order of tasks that take interdependencies between them into consideration.

A diagram of the project schedule network is an output form of the process of  ‘sequencing' activities in accordance with PMI's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(r) 6th edition. 

Diagrams of the network for project schedules illustrate the sequence in which activities are scheduled to deal with the logical connections between these tasks

It usually consists of nodes which represent actions and arrows showing the relationship between them and the sequence. This type of presentation is often known as "activities on Nodes" (AON) drawing. It is the most commonly used form of diagram for project schedules. project network diagram network diagram examples


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About the Author

Sprintzeal   Aradhya Kumar

With years of experience and a vast amount of knowledge in Project Management, Agile Management, Scrum, and other popular domains, Aradhya Kumar is well-versed in creating content for audiences from various fields and industries.

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