The Project Group, LLC

The Project Group, LLC Newsletter

  Advancing Project Management

January 2003  


in this issue


San Francisco & Houston Project Management Courses Offered!
We're offering two Project Management Training Courses in San Francisco and Houston in February. Our two-day Project Management Nuts and Bolts is a fun and dynamic introduction to project management best practices. It is followed by our Microsoft Project 2000 in One-Day course.

Sign up for one or both courses.

Audience: Managers tasked with small to medium-sized projects

Covers best practices of:

·  Initiation -- Project Objective Statements, Project Chartering, Project Organization

·  Project Planning -- Work Breakdown Structure, Task Estimating, Resource Planning, Structured Risk Management

·  Leadership & communication issues underlying good team-building

Bring your own projects to work on as exercises!

The Project Group, LLC

We specialize in assisting corporate and government clients in learning to improve their productivity while planning and executing projects.

Our three-phase approach yields faster, more efficient project initiation, planning and execution results.

To Enroll In A Class Click Here



Each month our newsletter will delve into a specific step in the phases of Initiation, Planning and Execution of projects. Our methodology is applicable to any project in any industry. Our systematic approach to Project Management is designed to help your company's projects gain traction quickly, communicate clearly to all parties and keep them on track to reach a successful conclusion.

This newsletter focuses on Process 6: Setting Task Sequence in the Planning phase - Network Charts






·  Visualizing Task Sequence


We use a Network Chart to visualize task sequence. A Network Chart shows...

·  Dependencies
- Which task precedes another (predecessor)
- Which task follows another (successor)

·  Parallel tasks & task paths

·  Total Project Duration

·  The longest task path a.k.a. The Critical Path

Network Charts also...

·  May show tasks forgotten in the Work Breakdown Structure

·  Reveal previously hidden dependencies

·  Are a great team building exercise


·  Network Chart Symbols & Definitions


To create a network chart, write the task names on Post-ItsTM, then start placing them on flipchart paper or a whiteboard, going from left to right. Show the dependency relationships (predecessors and successors) with arrows always moving left to right.

Predecessor - Task which comes before another task
Successor - Task which comes after another task
Hard Dependency - The only way to do something

Shower then get dressed

Soft Dependency - Optional ways to look at Predecessor/Successor relationship

Drink coffee then shower or
shower first then drink coffee


·  Network Chart Tips


  1. Always have a task showing project Start.
  2. Always have a task showing project Finish.
  3. Have plenty of work space horizontally to spread out.
  4. Use color Post- ItsTM for different teams or phases.
  5. Start at the beginning and work forward (left to right).
  6. Start at the end and work backward (right to left).
  7. Watch for multiple finish and start paths.
  8. Draw lines in pencil until you're sure of dependencies.
  9. Don't loop; always move forward.
  10. Don't dangle; every task has a predecessor and a successor.
  11. If a task has no apparent successor, its successor is the project end.
  12. Leave your network chart up on the wall or white board for a few days & let team members make comments on the dependencies with other Post- Its.TM

Click Here to See a Sample Network Chart


·  About Software Tools


Don't start entering your project tasks into a software tool like Microsoft Project until you have gone through this manual process. Post-ItTM charts give you an overview of the project that a computer screen cannot.

Many MS Project users find that you can't fit the Network (called PERT charts) for most projects easily onto a few pages. If you reduce the size of each node to just one line, you can fit five times as many task nodes in the same space. To do this:

  1. Choose View:Network Diagram (PERT Chart).
  2. Choose Format:Boxstyles, then Choose More Templates, then New.
  3. Give the new template a name like "One Line".
  4. Click on Cell Layout.
  5. Reduce Number of Rows to 1.
  6. Reduce Number of Columns to 1.
  7. Expand Cell Width to 240%, then click on OK.
  8. In the Choose Cells box, type Name, for the Task Name field.
  9. Then click on OK, then Close.

You have just created a new template. Now apply it to the current chart.

Be sure Critical is selected in Style settings for. Use the Data Template drop down box and choose "One Line".

In Style settings for choose Noncritical and add the "One Line" template to it.

Now all task-nodes in your PERT/'Network Chart will be very small.

To be able to move tasks around choose Format:Layout and choose Allow Manual Box Positioning.

If you would like to receive a copy of these instructions complete with Microsoft Project menu screen shots, click on the link below and send us a request.

Click Here to Send a Request for the Microsoft Project Screen shots


·  Next Newsletter


In our next newsletter we will review Part Two of Sequencing Tasks The Critical Path

Click Here To View Previous Newsletters


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