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Content Writer/Author: Mrs. RENU ARORA

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Structure of Module/Syllabus of module(Define Topic of Module and its subtopics)

Operational Planning Introduction, Operational Planning, Network Scheduling
Techniques (Use of Techniques, Gantt Chart, PERT/CPM
Planning Tools like Gantt
Chart, PERT/CPM)


Description of the Module

Subject Name Library and Information Science
Paper Name Library and Information Centres Management
Module Name/Title Operational Planning Techniques (Use of Planning Tools
Like Gantt Chart, PERT/CPM)
Module Id LIS/LICM/15

Pre-requisites Monitoring techniques of LIC Management, Planning, Need

for Operational Planning in LIC
Objectives To Study about the Operational Planning techniques by
using Gantt Chart and PERT/CPM
Keywords Operational Planning, Techniques of Operational Planning,
Network analysis, Critical Path Analysis Network scheduling,
Gantt Chart, Programme Evaluation Review Technique
(PERT), Critical Path Method (CPM), PERT/CPM


After reading this module, you will be able to:

 Get acquainted with the need for operational planning in libraries;

 Identify the various operational planning techniques;
 Explain the role of Gantt Charts in operational planning;
 Understand the network fundamentals;
 Prepare a network diagram with PERT/CPM, and
 Differentiate between Gantt Charts and PERT/CPM.


Planning is determining what needs to be done, by whom, and by when in order to fulfil
one‟s assigned responsibility. Planning varies at each level of the organisation. At the
functional level, planning must include agreement on purpose and coordination of work

Operational planning is the day-by-day and month-by-month planning for what an

organisation is doing. The strategic planning on the other hand determines the entire
direction of an organisation, including what it is not doing but should be doing. The two forms
of planning must be integrated, but must not be confused.

Plans are sets of goals and ways to attain them. Without a plan, managers and their
subordinates may not be able to achieve their goals or even know when they have deviated
from the right path. Strategic plans are those established to meet an organization‟s
extensive goals. On the other hand, operational plans are those that contain fine points for
executing or implementing, those strategic plans in everyday activities.

3.1 Strategic Planning Strategic planning vs operational planning

Planning can best be described as the function of selecting the organisational objectives and
establishing the policies, procedure and programmes necessary for achieving them. Also
referred to as long-range planning, the term "strategic planning" expresses the analytic and
comprehensive elements of planning in libraries and information organisations.
The strategic plan aims to focus on a library‟s vision and priorities in response to the
changing environment. These plans also ensure that staff of the library are working toward
the same goals.

Operational planning on the other hand may be described as establishing a predetermined

course of action with a forecasted environment and its requirements set the major
milestones. If the library managers cannot commit because the milestones are perceived as
unrealistic, the operational manager may have to develop alternatives, one of which may be
to move the milestones. Top management must be involved in the selection of alternatives.


An operational plan is necessary to ensure that the activities of the library and its services
are focused on achieving the priorities and goals identified in the strategic plan. The plan
should reflect the following:

 a focus on services to users
 implementation of the priorities and goals of the strategic plan
 formation of operational elements of the agreed strategies
 development of clearly identified goals with manageable and achievable time frames
 definition of achievable outputs for the level of inputs
 participation of library staff who carry out the activities
 allocation of responsibility to identified staff members for achieving outputs
 a schedule for monitoring, evaluating and revising the plan at regular intervals, if

Operational planning must be systematic, flexible enough to handle unique activities,

disciplined through reviews and control and capable of accepting multi-functional inputs.
Successful operational managers realise that operational planning is a repetitive process
and must be performed throughout the span of the plan. One of the objectives of operational
planning is to completely define all work required so that it is readily identifiable to all

Poor operational planning leads to:

 Plan initiation without defined requirements

 Wild enthusiasm
 Disillusionment
 Chaos

4.1 Project graphics

A project is a plan, proposal or a scheme with a set of interrelated tasks to be executed over
a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations. In other words, it a temporary
endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or a service.

This definition highlights some essential features of a project, which are:

 it is temporary - it has a beginning and an end, and

 it is "unique" in some way.

With regard to the use of the term unique, it refers to non-repetitive or non-routine, e.g.,
automating the very first library was a project, running an automated library now is a
repetitive/routine process, not a project.

In India, we have some major projects in real-life, e.g., the Delhi Metro Rail, Mumbai's
Eastern Freeway, Chenab Bridge, New Swanky Double Decker Express Trains, Yamuna
Expressway, etc.

Typically all projects have to be broken down into:

 separate activities (tasks/jobs) - where each activity has an associated duration

or completion time (i.e., the time from the start of the activity to its finish), and
 precedence relationships - which govern the order in which we may perform the
activities, e.g., in a project concerned with building a house the activity „erect all the
four walls‟ has to be finished before the activity „lay roof on' can start.

And the problem is to bring all these activities together in a logical manner to complete the

We have already established that a formal programme plan with detailed schedules to
manage the total programme is required while preparing the operational plans. Any plan,
schedule, drawing or specification that be read by more than one person must be expressed
in a language that is understood by all recipients.

The ideal situation is to construct charts and schedules in suitable notation that can be used
by all for status reporting. It should consist of three vital control parameters:

 Time
 Cost
 Performance

All schedules and charts should consider these three parameters and their relationship to
corporate resources. Information to ensure proper plan evaluation is usually obtained
through four methods:

 First hand observation

 Oral and written reports
 Review and technical interchange meetings
 Graphical displays

First hand observations are an excellent tool for obtaining unfiltered information, but they
may not be possible in large plans. Although oral and written reports are a way of life, they
often contain either too much or not enough details, and significant information may be
disguised. Review and technical interchange meetings provide face-to-face communication
and can result in immediate agreement or problem definition or solutions, such as changing
a schedule. The problem here is that only those present can reach a solution. Good graphic
displays make the information easy to identify and are the prime means for tackling cost,
schedule and performance. Proper graphical displays can result in:

 Cutting planning costs and reducing time scale

 Coordinating and expediting planning
 Eliminate idle time
 Obtaining better scheduling and control of delegation of activities
 Developing better troubleshooting procedures
 Cutting time for routine decisions, but allowing more time for decision-making

4.2 Techniques of Operational Planning

An operational plan is the chief key for managing any organisation. It provides the library
manager with detailed information on the work that must be done to ensure that planned
goals and objectives are achieved. The tools of operational planning provide practical
information on how to implement the objectives, strategies and programs suggested in the
corporate plan of the information organisation.

Operational planning in information organisations is a challenging task with many complex

responsibilities. There are many tools available to assist for accomplishing the tasks and
executing the responsibilities. Some require a computer with supporting software, while
others can be used manually. Information managers should choose an operational
management technique/tool that best suits their management style.

Some of the major operational planning techniques are:

a) Risk Management
b) Budgetary Control
c) Work Breakdown Structure
d) Gantt Charts

e) Critical Path Analysis or Network Analysis
f) Resource Histograms
g) Milestones, Checkpoints and Gates

4.2.1 Risk Management

In operational planning there is always a risk or chance that adverse conditions occur that
may cause a project to fail or fail to meet its planned objectives in terms of time, cost and
quality. Risk management addresses the identified risk issues in advance and helps to
contain them. For example, in a proposed library automation system for a library, the key
risks can be identified in advance. These could be insufficient budget or misunderstanding
actual requirements of end users or lack of experience of library staff or introduction of
possible new technologies in near future, etc. Appropriate risk management strategies help
to take immediate action in case of possible unwanted occurrences.

4.2.2 Budgetary Control

Budgets help in authorising expenditure, communicating objectives and plans, controlling

operations, coordinating activities, evaluating performance, planning and rewarding
personnel based on performance. Budgetary control, therefore, compares the budgeted
results as a yardstick in comparison to actual results in order to quantify deviations from the
operational plan. The whole process, at regular intervals, throughout the implementation
phase of the plan can be used to take control action and bring actual results in line with the

4.2.3 Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The purpose of the work breakdown structure is to help plan effectively for a project by
breaking key tasks and activities into more manageable and small units of work. WBS thus
produces a detailed list of tasks to be performed, helps to deliver better costing, scheduling
and resource planning for a project.

4.2.4 Gantt Charts

A Gantt Chart is a horizontal bar chart used for project scheduling. Each task of activity is
depicted as a block over time, actual performance is recorded in real time and compared to
planned deadlines necessary for achieving completion. This will discussed in detail in the
next section.

4.2.5 Critical Path Analysis or Network Analysis

When projects are complex and lengthy, Gantt Charts are not suitable time management
tools. In large projects, there often exists a high interdependency between various tasks, e.g.,
some activities cannot started, until others have been completed first, therefore, many
activities are interrelated. Gantt charts are thus less desirable as they do not display or
indicate interdependencies. Network or Critical Path analysis can display more logically the
sequence and timing of each activity. They communicate interdependency and a more
effective time management tool for large or complex projects.

4.2.6 Resource Histograms

A Resource Histogram is a bar or column chart that shows the number of resources
assigned to a project over a period of time. Resource histograms usually presented as bar
charts, can be an effective tool for planning of resources and coordinating staff of a project.

4.2.7 Milestones, Checkpoints and Gates

Milestones are significant events in the course of a project that are used to give visibility of
progress in terms of achievement of predefined milestone goals. Failure to meet a milestone
indicates that a project is not proceeding to plan and usually triggers corrective action by
management. Milestones thus are points of completion or achievement on a plan.

Checkpoints are calendar points at which the project reports progress, for example, weekly
checkpoint meetings.

Gates are significant events or major objectives that have been accomplished at various
stages of a project. They assess key completion or quality of work achieved. Gates are
formal points in the project where resourcing for continued work is agreed.

Of the above mentioned, no single tool addresses all project management requirements.
Gantt Charts and Network Analysis are two of the most commonly used operational planning
tools in project management. In the subsequent sections, Gantt Charts and two techniques
of network analysis - Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path
Method (CPM) are described in detail as these are found to be most suitable in library and
information organisations. Both of these techniques can be adopted manually or with
commercially available project management software.


A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart developed as a production control tool in 1917 by
Henry L. Gantt, an American engineer and a social scientist. Frequently used in project
management, a Gantt chart provides a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan,
coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project.

5.1 Use of Gantt Charts as a tool

Gantt Charts (Gant Charts) are useful tools for analysing and planning more complex
projects. They:

 Can be used to plan time scale for a project,

 Help to plan, coordinate and track specific tasks that need to be completed for a

 Can be used to estimate required resources,

 Give a basis for graphic scheduling when these tasks will be carried out,

 Allow to plan the allocation of resources needed to complete the project,

 Are good for small projects when the number of tasks or activities are small and not
complex, and

 Help to work out the critical path for a project which has to be completed by a
particular date.

The charts may be in the form of any of the following:

(a) Scheduling or progress charts, which show the sequence of job progress.

(b) Load charts which show the work assigned to a work group or allocated to machines.

(c) Record charts which track the actual time spent and delays, if any.

Gantt charts need to be updated at regular intervals. For example, charts have to be
updated - when a work is delayed at the start or when work continues beyond its time
schedule or if the progress of work is not as per the actual plan. If unforeseen eventualities
occur, corrective actions may have to be taken, and this will also need corresponding
changes in Gantt charts.

A Gantt chart is a matrix which lists on the vertical axis all the tasks to be performed. Each
row contains a single task identification which usually consists of a number and name. The
horizontal axis is headed by columns indicating estimated task duration, skill level needed to
perform the task and the name of the person assigned to the task, followed by one column
for each period in the project‟s duration. Each period may be expressed in hours, days,
weeks, months and other time units. In some cases it may be necessary to label the period
columns as period 1, period 2 and so on.

The graphical portion of the Gantt chart consists of a horizontal bar for each task connecting
the period start and period ending columns. A set of markers is usually used to indicate the
estimated and the actual start and end. Each bar on a separate line and the name of each
person assigned to the task is on a separate line. In many cases, when this type of project
plan is used, a blank row is left between tasks.

When the project is under way, this row is used to indicate progress, indicated by a second
bar which starts in the period column when the task is actually started and continues until the
task is actually completed. Comparison between the estimated start and end and the actual
start and end should indicate project status on a task-by-task basis. Variants of this method
include a lower chart which shows personnel allocations on a person-by-person basis. For
this section, the vertical axis contains the number of people assigned to the project, and the
columns indicating task duration are left blank, as is the column indicating persons assigned.

The graphics consist of the same bar notation as in the upper chart indicates that the person
is working on a task. The value of this lower chart is evident when it shows the slack time for
the project personnel, i.e., times when they are not actually working on any project.

Gantt Charts help to monitor whether the project is on schedule or not when a project is
under way. If it is not, it allows to pinpoint the remedial actions necessary to put it back on
schedule. The Gantt Chart shows the relationship between different activities over a time

5.2 Drawing a Gantt Chart

As mentioned above, a Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows the tasks of a project, when
each must take place and how long each will take. As the project progresses, bars are
shaded to show which tasks have been completed. People assigned to each task also can
be represented. To draw up a Gantt chart (Gantt diagram), follow these steps:

1. Identify tasks:

 Identify the tasks needed to complete the project.

 Identify key milestones in the project by brainstorming a list, or by drawing a
flowchart, storyboard or arrow diagram for the project.
 Identify the time required for each task.
 Identify the sequence, i.e., which tasks must be finished before a following task
can begin or which can happen simultaneously or which tasks must be completed
before each milestone.

2. Draw a horizontal time axis along the top or bottom of a page. Mark it off in an
appropriate scale for the length of the tasks (days or weeks).

3. Down the left side of the page, write each task and milestone of the project in order. For
events that happen at a point in time (such as a presentation), draw a diamond under the
time the event must happen. For activities that occur over a period of time (such as
developing a plan or holding a series of interviews), draw a bar that spans the appropriate
times on the timeline: Align the left end of the bar with the time the activity begins, and
align the right end with the time the activity concludes. Draw just the outlines of the bars
and diamonds; do not fill them.

4. Check that every task of the project is on the chart.

5. As events and activities take place, fill in the diamonds and bars to show completion.
For tasks in progress, estimate how far along task has reached and fill in that much of the

6. Place a vertical marker to show where project is on the timeline. If the chart is posted on
the wall, for example, an easy way to show the current time is with a heavy dark string
hung vertically across the chart.

Besides drawing manually, there are many other ways to create a Gantt Chart. For
example, Microsoft Project, a task-planning program, makes it easy to track and chart
project timelines with a built-in Gantt chart view. Another option is to use Excel. Excel does
not contain a built-in Gantt chart format, however, we can create a Gantt chart in Excel by
customizing the stacked bar chart type. Using these not only eases the drawing of Gantt
Charts, they also make modification of plans easier and provide facilities for monitoring
progress against plans, as well as generating resource histograms.

Gantt charts are thus useful tools for planning and scheduling projects. They allow us to
assess how long a project should take, determine the resources needed, and lay out the
order in which tasks need to be carried out. They are useful in managing the dependencies
between tasks. When a project is under way, Gantt charts are useful for monitoring its
progress. One can immediately see what should have been achieved at a point in time, and
can, therefore, take remedial action to bring the project back on course. This can be
essential for the successful and profitable implementation of the project.

An example of Gantt chart with various details and a diagram can be seen at

5.3 Advantages and Disadvantages

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Gantt chart are given below.


1. This is a simple and very inexpensive method and can be developed even by supervisory
staff with very little training. The charts visually depict complex ideas in totality.

2. These charts clearly show the decided time and work schedules for every job, thereby
increasing visibility.

3. Monitoring and control are easier and can be done within a minimum time frame and at
the lowest cost.

4. These charts can be changed and updated quickly at a very low cost.

5. Gantt charts are presentation tools that show the key milestones of a project.

6. The bars on the charts indicate the period in which a particular task or set of task will be
completed. This helps to understand what is happening in the project all the time.


In spite of the above-mentioned advantages, there are certain disadvantages.

1. A major disadvantage of Gantt charts relates to task dependencies. When project

managers are illustrating tasks in a project, sometimes they want to show how the tasks
depend on one another. Unfortunately, the Gantt chart's format does not allow for this. They
also do not show job interrelationships and interdependence.

2. Cost implications cannot be shown.

3. With these charts, it is not possible to depict other alternatives for project completion.

4. The shape and form of Gantt charts can differ according to the nature of the requirement.
Also the size of the bars on the chart do not indicate the amount of work.

5. The charts need to be updated constantly.

6. Gantt charts are not flexible as they cannot accommodate changes once the project has
commenced. Changes to the schedule requires redrawing of the chart.

7. As the Gantt chart does not highlight work breakdown structure (WBS) elements, it has
the highest risk of failure or delay.


Network analysis is the general name given to certain specific techniques which can be used
for the planning, management and control of projects. It is defined as „Breaking down‟
a complex project's data into its component parts, i.e., activities, events, durations, etc. and
plotting them to show their interdependencies and interrelationships.

According to McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, network analysis is an

analytic technique used during project planning to determine the sequence of activities and
their interrelationship within the network of activities that will be required by the project. It is
also known as network planning.

In libraries and information organisations, network analysis helps to plan, carry out and
complete various small and large projects by analysing the project activities. Each project is
divided into individual tasks and activities, which are arranged in logical sequence. The
sequence in which the tasks are to performed including those to be carried out
simultaneously has also to be decided before commencement of the project. Eventually a
network diagram has to be constructed depicting relationship between various tasks,
activities and their sequence. Finally costs, time and other resources are allocated to
various activities.

Network analysis is an effective and powerful method of assessing:

 What tasks must be carried out

 Where parallel activity can be performed
 The shortest time in which one can complete a project
 Resources needed to execute a project
 The sequence of activities, scheduling and timings involved
 Task priorities
 The most efficient way of shortening time on urgent projects

6.1 Use of Network Analysis as a Tool

Network analysis or critical path analysis is a useful tool for lengthy and complex projects.
Their usefulness is as below:

 Good planning and visual communication tool for effective time management.
 Clearly displays interdependent relationships that exist between the different
activities or tasks to be completed.
 Arranges activities and tasks into proper sequence of events enabling a project to be
completed in the most efficient time possible
 Helps to calculate estimated time or elapsed time to complete a project.
 Highlight the activities that are considered critical, i.e., those activities which have to
be completed with their planned time to complete the projects.
 Identify the critical and non-critical activities.

6.2 Process of Network Analysis

The process of network analysis is:

a) Break down project into a logical sequence of activities to be completed.

b) Estimate the time duration of each activity.
c) Arrange activities in the most efficient sequence of events and estimate the
elapsed time of the project.

Network analysis has some advantages as below:

 Identifies interrelationships between different tasks or activities.

 Resources can be planned and allocated for appropriate use.
 Good communication and planning tool for time management.

Besides the advantages mentioned above, there are also some disadvantages of network

 In case of larger projects, the complexity of the network diagram increases as

number of activities increases.
 There is a definite relationship between time and money but personnel cost is usually
a fixed and not a variable cost.
 While estimating the duration of activities, key uncertainties often exist which lead to
poor prediction of elapsed time.

6.3 Techniques of Network Analysis

Two techniques for network analysis were developed independently in the late 1950's -
these were:

 PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique); and

 CPM (Critical Path Method)

6.3.1 PERT

PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) was developed by the US Navy for the
planning and control of the Polaris Missile Program and the emphasis was on completing the
program in the shortest possible time. In addition, PERT has the ability to cope with
uncertain activity completion times. For example, for a particular activity the most likely
completion time is 4 weeks but it could be anywhere between 3 weeks and 8 weeks.

PERT charts depict tasks, duration, and dependency information. Each chart starts with an
initiation node from which the first task, or tasks, originate. If multiple tasks begin at the
same time, they all start from the node or branch, or fork out from the starting point. Each
task is represented by a line which states its name or other identifier, its duration, the

number of people assigned to it, and in some cases the initials of the personnel assigned.
The other end of the task line is terminated by another node which identifies the start of
another task, or the beginning of any slack time, that is, waiting time between tasks.

Each task is connected to its successor tasks in this manner forming a network of nodes and
connecting lines. The chart is complete when all final tasks come together at the completion
node. When slack time exists between the end of one task and the start of another, the usual
method is to draw a broken or dotted line between the end of the first task and the start of
the next dependent task.

A PERT chart may have multiple parallel or interconnecting networks of tasks. If the
scheduled project has milestones, checkpoints, or review points (all of which are highly
recommended in any project schedule), the PERT chart will note that all tasks up to that
point terminate at the review node.

Importance of PERT

Because it is primarily a project-management tools, a PERT chart is most useful for planning
and tracking entire projects or for scheduling and tracking the implementation phase of a
planning or improvement effort. It also important due to following:

 Reduction in cost
 Saving of time
 Determination of activities
 Elimination of risk in complex activities
 Flexibility
 Evaluation of alternatives
 Useful in effective control
 Useful in decision making
 Useful is research work

6.3.2 CPM

CPM (Critical Path Method) was developed by Du Pont and the emphasis was on the trade-
off between the cost of the project and its overall completion time. When time is less of an
uncertainty and the project has relatively routine task, CPM is more likely to be useful. It also
distinguishes activities critical and non-critical for maintaining the schedule. For example,

for certain activities it may be possible to decrease their completion times by spending more
money. How does this affect the overall completion time of the project?

Critical Path Method (CPM) charts are similar to PERT charts and are sometimes known as
PERT/CPM. In a CPM chart, the critical path is indicated. A critical path consists of a set of
dependent tasks (each dependent on the preceding one) which together take the longest
time to complete. Although it is not normally done, a CPM chart can define multiple, equally
critical paths. Tasks which fall on the critical path should be noted in some way, so that they
may be given special attention. One way to do this is to draw critical path tasks with a double
line instead of a single line.

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is one of several related techniques for doing project
planning. CPM is for projects that are made up of a number of individual "activities." If some
of the activities require other activities to finish before they can start, then the project
becomes a complex web of activities.

Therefore, CPM can help to figure out:

 how long a complex project will take to complete, and

 which activities are "critical," meaning that they have to be done on time or else the
whole project will take longer.

If we put in information about the cost of each activity, and how much it costs to speed up
each activity, CPM can help to figure out:

 whether we should try to speed up the project, and, if so,

 what is the least costly way to speed up the project.


An activity is a specific task. It gets something done. An activity can have these properties:

 names of any other activities that have to be completed before this one can start
 a projected normal time duration

In the next section, we will discuss PERT/CPM as operational planning technique.


While planning library and information centre projects, the PERT and CPM techniques have
been used jointly to plan and control the progress of the projects from start to finish. This
technique has been most suitable especially for highly complex and long-term projects.
PERT and CPM are used together as scheduling techniques to plan, schedule, budget and
control the many activities associated with projects in libraries and information organisations.
These projects are usually very large, complex, and consist of many interrelated activities
to be performed either concurrently or sequentially. Utilizing PERT/CPM involves breaking
the total project down into many different individual activities with identifiable time
requirements. Each activity must be accomplished as part of the total work to be done.

The project‟s desired completion date is the focal point for scheduling. The time to begin
work on the project is determined by working backward from the desired completion date.
Project managers must coordinate each of the activities so the project can be completed at
the desired date and with minimal costs. The PERT/CPM schedule allows for converting the
project plans into an operating timetable; thus providing direction for managing the day-to-
day activities of projects.

Although application of both PERT and CPM follow the same steps and use network
diagrams to schedule and control projects, the primary difference between these two
techniques is that PERT is probabilistic where CPM is deterministic. The terms PERT and
CPM are usually used together or interchangeably in this context.

7.1 Developing a Network

A network is a graphic plan of all the activities and events that must be completed to reach
the end objectives of a particular project. It should show the planned sequence of their
accomplishments, their dependencies and inter-relationships. Every PERT/CPM network
has two basic components, namely, Event and Activity. Before developing a network, it is
essential to know some terms related to network planning methods.

PERT/CPM Terminology


An event is a point in time, i.e., a milestone in the total work to be accomplished. It marks the
beginning and end of an activity. Events do not consume resources or time. Events are
numbered with those at the tail of the activity having lower numbers than the events at the

head of each activity arrow (left to right). Events are represented by circles (nodes) and the
event number is written within the circle.

Event is a point that marks the start or completion of one or more tasks. It consumes no time,
and uses no resources. It marks the completion of one or more tasks, and is not “reached”
until all of the activities leading to that event have been completed. Event is:

 A predecessor event: an event (or events) that immediately precedes some other
event without any other events intervening. It may be the consequence of more
than one activity.
 A successor event: an event (or events) that immediately follows some other
event without any other events intervening. It may be the consequence of more
than one activity.


Every project consists of a number of jobs or tasks called as activities. Activities are to be
accomplished as part of the total work to be done. Activities consume resources and/or time.
They lie between two events and can be identified with starting and ending points. The
network activities are represented by arrows and can be referred to by their endpoints and/or
a letter assigned to the arrow.

Activities can be:

Critical activities: If an activity consumes more than its estimated time, it is called a critical
activity. An activity becomes critical when its earliest start time plus the time taken by it is
equal to the latest finishing time. A critical activity is indicated by marking a thick arrow to
distinguish it from non-critical activities.

Non-critical activities: The activities that have provision, so that even if they consume more
than estimated time, do not result in project delay.

Dummy activities: When two activities commence at the same time, their head events are
joined by a dotted arrow is known as a dummy activity. Dummy activities do not consume
time and may be critical or non-critical.

Precedence Relationships

Some activities cannot begin until others have been completed. Precedence relationships
must be defined in order to determine the sequence of activities in the network.


A sequence of activities that leads from the starting node to the finishing node.

Critical Path

Critical path, formed by critical activities is the longest path through a network and consumes
maximum time. The critical path is the minimum time for expected completion of the entire
project. Each of the activities on the critical path has zero slack. The sequence of activities in
a network can have more than one critical path.


Duration is the estimated or actual time required to complete a task or an activity.

 Optimistic time (O): the minimum possible time required to accomplish a task,
assuming everything proceeds better than is normally expected
 Pessimistic time (P): the maximum possible time required to accomplish a task,
assuming everything goes wrong (but excluding major catastrophes).
 Most likely time (M): the best estimate of the time required to accomplish a task,
assuming everything proceeds as normal.
 Expected time (TE): the best estimate of the time required to accomplish a task,
assuming everything proceeds as normal (the implication being that the expected
time is the average time the task would require if the task were repeated on a
number of occasions over an extended period of time).
 Float or Slack is the amount of time that a task in a project network can be
delayed without causing a delay - Subsequent tasks – (free float) or Project
Completion – (total float)
 Lead time: the time by which a predecessor event must be completed in order to
allow sufficient time for the activities that must elapse before a specific event is
reached to be completed.
 Lag time: the earliest time by which a successor event can follow a specific PERT
 Slack: the slack of an event is a measure of the excess time and resources
available in achieving this event. Positive slack(+) would indicate ahead of

schedule; negative slack would indicate behind schedule; and zero slack would
indicate on schedule

Total Project Time

It is the time taken to complete a project and is found from the sequence of critical activities.
In other words it is the duration of the critical path.

Earliest Start Time (EST)

The earliest possible time an activity can start, assuming all preceding activities start as
early as possible. It is calculated by moving from the first to the last event in a network

Earliest Finish Time (EFT)

It is the earliest possible time at which as activity can finish.

EFT = EST + Duration of that activity

Latest Start Time (LST)

It is the latest possible time by which an activity can start.

LST = LFT – Duration of the activity

Latest Finish Time (LFT)

It is calculated by moving backwards, that is, from the last event to the first event of the
network diagram. It is the last event time of the head event.

Float or Slack

Slack is with reference to an event and float is with respect to an activity. This means that
slack is used with PERT and float is used with CPM. But when preparing PERT/CPM charts,
they may be used interchangeably. float or slack means spare time, a margin of extra time
over and above its duration which a non-critical activity can consume without delaying the
project. Float is the difference between the time available for completing an activity and the
time necessary to complete the same.

Total Float

It is the additional time which a non-critical activity can consume without increasing the
project duration. However, total float may affect the floats in previous and subsequent
activities and it can also be negative.

Total Float = (LST- EST) OR (LFT- EFT)

Free Float

If all the non-critical activities start as early as possible, the spare time is the free float. Free
float, if used, does not change the float in later activities. This means that if an activity is
delayed by the free float period, the succeeding activity will not by delayed in turn.

Free Float = EST of tail event – EST of head event – Activity duration

Independent Float

The use of independent float of an activity does not change the float in other activities.
Independent float can be used to advantage if one is interest to reduce the effort on a non-
critical activity in order to apply the same on a critical activity thereby reducing the project
duration. The independent float associated with an activity is not reduced by delaying
previous operations whereas such a reduction can be noticed with free float.

Independent Float = EST of tail event - LFT of head event – Activity duration

Network or Arrow Diagram

A network is a graphic view or display of all project activities interrelated through logical or
precedence relationships. Networks should begin with one node and end with another node.
These diagrams are usually drawn from left to right to show project chronology and they are
also called PERT/CPM charts. A PERT/CPM chart is thus a project management tool used
to schedule, organize, and coordinate tasks within a project. The chart presents a graphic
illustration of a project as a network diagram consisting of numbered nodes (either circles or
rectangles) representing events, or milestones in the project linked by labeled directional

lines representing tasks in the project. The direction of the arrows on the lines indicates the
sequence of tasks.

Fig. 1: Network Diagram

In Fig. 1, “Tasks” are represented by Arrows, “Events” are circles, “Dummy Tasks” are
Dashed Arrows and “Critical Tasks” are Thick Arrows

Steps in PERT/CPM

There are six steps involved in PERT/CPM that should be completed in chronological order:

1) Identify activities required by the project.

2) Identify the precedence relationships among the activities.
3) Determine the expected time requirements for each activity.
4) Develop a network diagram of activities (arrows) and events or nodes (circles)
showing precedence relationships.
5) Determine the earliest and latest feasible event times.
6) Identify the critical path (the minimum time to complete the project).


Let us take an example to explain the steps of PERT/CPM.

Illustration of network analysis of redesigning of an information product and its associated

activities including its repackaging are presented below:

The key question is: How long will it take to complete this project ?

Activity Activity Completion
Number time (in weeks)
1 Redesign Information Product 6
2 Seek approval from authorities 2
3 Request for inputs for redesigned product 3
4 Receive inputs for redesigned product 2
5 Assemble details related to redesigned product 4
6 Make up redesigned product 1
7 Finalise the product 1
8 Test the redesigned product 6
9 Revise redesigned product based on feedback 3
10 Present to authorities for approval 1
11 Receive and Circulate to the users 1

Before starting any of the above activity, the questions asked would be:
 What activities must be finished before this activity can start ?
 Could we complete this project in 30 weeks?
 Could we complete this project in 2 weeks?

One answer could be, if we first do activity 1, then activity 2, then activity 3, ...., then activity
10, then activity 11 and the project would then take the sum of the activity completion times,
30 weeks.

But the main question is:

“What is the minimum possible time in which we can complete this project ?”

For clarity, this list is kept to a minimum by specifying only immediate relationships, that is
relationships involving activities that "occur near to each other in time".

Activity Activity number

1 must be finished before 3 can start
2 must be finished before 4 can start
3 must be finished before 5 can start
4 must be finished before 6 can start

5, 6 must be finished before 7 can start
7 must be finished before 8 can start
8 must be finished before 9 can start
8 must be finished before 10 can start
9,10 must be finished before 11 can start

We shall see below how the network analysis diagram/picture we construct helps us to
answer this question.

Fig. 2 : Network Analysis Diagram

Data entry Table

Activity Activity Name Immediate Predecessor Normal Time (in weeks)

1 1 6
2 2 2
3 3 1 3
4 4 2 2
5 5 3 4
6 6 4 1
7 7 5,6 1
8 8 7 6

9 9 8 3
10 10 8 1
11 11 9,10 1

Calculations for Network

Activity Activity On Activity Earliest Earliest Latest Latest Slack/Float

No. Name Critical Time Start Finish Start Finish (LST-EST)
Path Time Time Time Time
1 1 Yes 6 0 6 0 6 0
2 2 No 2 0 2 8 10 8
3 3 Yes 3 6 9 6 9 0
4 4 No 2 2 4 10 12 8
5 5 Yes 4 9 13 9 13 0
6 6 No 1 4 5 12 13 8
7 7 Yes 1 13 14 13 14 0
8 8 Yes 6 14 20 14 20 0
9 9 Yes 3 20 23 20 23 0
10 10 No 1 20 21 22 23 2
11 11 Yes 1 23 24 23 24 0
Project Completion Time = 24 Weeks
Number of Critical Path(s) = 1


the figure 3, the Critical Path is indicated by the blue line.

The critical path is: Activity 1-3-5-7-8-9-11

and, time taken is: 6+3+4+1+6+3+1 = 24 weeks

For items on the critical path, the early days and late days will be the same and there will be
no slack time. While working backwards, the late start of a task is the same as the late finish
of the previous task or tasks. When there is more than one task with different late starts
which is derived from a single task, the earliest late start is used as the late finish of the
previous task.

When the PERT chart is completed, the critical path is the tasks without slack time.

From a project management point of view, the tasks on the critical path need to be tracked
more closely than the tasks that are not on the critical path. This allows the project manager
to focus his or her time with the areas that are most likely to affect the schedule.

The PERT/CPM chart is more complicated than the Gantt chart but it does provide the
project manager with more information. The PERT/CPM chart is typically not used in
presentations or in meetings due to its complexity. Presently, project management tools
such as Microsoft Project can be used to show both the Gantt and the PERT/CPM view so a
project manager would not necessarily need to make two separate diagrams.

Fig. 3: Network Analysis Diagram showing Critical Path

Benefits of PERT/CPM

 Useful at many stages of project management

 Especially useful when controlling large projects
 Mathematically simple
 Give critical path and slack time
 Provide project documentation
 Useful in monitoring both the schedules as well as the costs

Limitations in PERT/CPM Technique

 Project activities have to be clearly defined, independent and stable in their

 Precedence relationships must be specified and networked together
 Over emphasis on critical paths
 Deterministic CPM model
 Activity time estimates are subjective and depend on judgment
 PERT consistently underestimates the expected project completion time due to
alternate paths becoming critical


When creating a project schedule, information managers will find both PERT/CPM and Gantt
charts to be essential tools for successfully completing the project at hand. Both types of
charts provide tools for managers to analyse projects through visualization, helping divide
tasks into manageable parts. Their major differences are discussed below:


One of the key differences between a PERT/CPM Chart and a Gantt chart is the way the
information is presented. Gantt charts present information in the format of a bar chart. This
presentation helps show the percentage of work completed for each task. PERT/CPM, on
the other hand, displays information as a network model. This means that a PERT/CPM
chart presents an initial node from which tasks branch out. This helps project
managers visualize the sequence of tasks, as you cannot start on the next activity until the
one preceding it is completed.

Work Breakdown Structure

One of the key responsibilities of a project manager is to break down the workload into tasks
to guarantee that the project will be finished by the deadline. Both PERT/CPM and Gantt
charts will display the tasks to be completed, but the charts emphasize different pieces. In
Gantt charts, the focus is on the percentage completion of each task, without demonstrating
the link that two tasks may have to each other. While PERT/CPM typically does not show

the percentage completed, because it employs a network model, it is easy to see which
tasks depend on each other.


Gantt charts are ideal for straightforward projects with few interlinking tasks. Gantt charts
present project tasks and time allocation as the only two pieces of data. While this is a
limitation where there are interconnecting tasks that depend on each other, for more basic
projects it is easier to interpret the data in a Gantt chart. PERT/CPM charts, while also
including project tasks and time allocation, display dependency. Gantt charts are easier to
change as a task moves along and it comes closer to completion.


Gantt charts are simpler to read, but PERT/CPM charts extend an element of detail to the
project scheduling through both the network model's ability to display dependency and
PERT/CPM's unique ability to anticipate actual time that a task will take to completion. Tasks
in PERT/CPM charts will have three representative time structures, namely, optimistic, most
likely, and pessimistic. By averaging these times, a manager can predict how long a task will
actually take to complete more realistically than the single time that Gantt charts provide.


Operational planning is a subset of strategic planning. It describes short-term ways of

achieving milestones and explains how, or what portion of, a strategic plan will be put into
operation during a given operational period, in the case of commercial application, a fiscal
year or another given budgetary term.

In this lesson, we have learnt that an operational plan is necessary to ensure that the
activities of the library and its services are focused on achieving the priorities and goals
identified in the strategic plan. Information managers should choose an operational
management technique/tool that best suits their management style. No one tool addresses
all project management needs. The two major techniques discussed in this module are
Gantt Charts and Network analysis.

A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart, developed by Henry Gantt, that illustrates a project
schedule. Gantt charts illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and
summary elements of a project. Terminal elements and summary elements comprise the
work breakdown structure of the project. Some Gantt charts also show the dependency (i.e.,
precedence network) relationships between activities.

Network analysis is the general name given to certain specific techniques which can be used
for the planning, management and control of projects. Two different techniques for network
analysis were developed independently in the late 1950's - these were - PERT (for Program
Evaluation and Review Technique); and CPM (for Critical Path Management). In this lesson,
these two techniques have been discussed in detail with examples.

Lastly, major differences between Gantt charts and PERT/CPM charts have been discussed