Helpful Hints On Doing A Network Diagram

A Network Diagram or Drawing is used to show the linkages or inter-dependencies in a series of activities.

They also show the sequence of events, including when activities are undertaken in parallel.

As with all of these concept mapping techniques, by putting together a picture or drawing of the scenario you are working on, you will find opportunities to improve as well as finding it easier to convey your intentions to others.

How to Do The Network Diagrams

Here is the basic concept: 

Network Diagram

They are illustrated using:

  • A semicircle containing the letter “S” to indicate the start.
  • Circular Nodes that represent events such as the commencement or completion of an activity or series of activities; the change from one phase into another. These nodes are numbered to depict the sequence of activities.
  • Arrows that show the direction of the flow and the inter-dependencies between the activities.
  • Dummies can be inserted using a dotted arrow to the next event, i.e. 2 - 4
  • Loops are not permitted!
  • Activities are named and numbered and illustrated along the arrowed line between the nodes.

Lay out the activities in their sequence and evaluate the flow between each activity. This could be the flow of personal, information, materials, documents, etc. 

The main idea is to gain an overview picture using this simple technique or illustration. 

Example Of A Network Diagram

I decided to draw up an example for you. 

Not being a great fan of shopping, I always take my two sons with me and delegate whatever possible so I can get the shopping quickly behind me. What better subject matter than this for my network diagram!

Take for example I plan to do the following activities: 

  • Go to town in the car
  • Go to the supermarket to buy the weekly shopping
  • Go to a card shop to buy a birthday card
  • Get fresh vegetables from the veg shop
  • Get a ball valve from the sports shop
  • Get some fresh bread rolls from the bakery
  • Bring the empty bottles to the recycling. 
  • Post some letters. 

So, I have taken each task and converted it into a phrase - describing the activity or the task with a Verb & a Noun. 

with verbs such as "Go To / Get / Bring / Drive / Load up / Return", etc.

You describe the activity that must be completed before the node is reached. After each node, a new activity is started. 

There are no hard and fast rules as to how the numbering of the nodes takes place. This should be done with a logical feel. You could try the timing of events - whatever seems to be the best to convey the sequence of events to another person. 

Last but not least, don't forget to add the legend to explain any points of the diagram that may need clarification. 

Network Diagram Examples.


This type of analysis is good in the planning stage of any project, also as an evaluation of how best to lay out the activities. 

If production, for example, has to follow a particular tact, in order to avoid bottlenecks, this diagram type is key to analyzing the best way to organize the work-flow.

Another use is in the Cost-benefit analysis of the work-flow as well as the development of Kanban systems. 

On a more mundane level, the ability to quickly lay out a network diagram can be used in a multitude of situations, all to do with planning or assessment.

› Network Diagram