The network planning technique is a method used in project management to visualize the planning, management, analysis and control of complex processes. The network planning technique shows the process structures in graphic and tabular form. The German Institute for Standardization (Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.) has defined it in DIN 69900 as a " procedure for the analysis, description, planning, control and monitoring of processes on the basis of graph theory", "whereby time, costs, input means or resources can be taken into account".
A network plan is intended to show the logical relationships between the individual activities in their chronological sequence. For this purpose, the individual project parts and activities are broken down and costs and time sequences are assigned to them. The network plan itself is constructed according to DIN from simple graphic symbols, from circles, rectangles and polygons, which are connected by lines.
The connection points are nodes. The nodes are numbered in the order of the project flow and can be provided with additional information. They indicate an activity, a task or an event within the project. They are marked as numbered boxes or circles. The sequence of events is indicated by lines and arrows representing the tasks. In the network planning technique, tasks are understood to be developments from their initial state to their final state. The direction of the arrow indicates the sequence of tasks. The arrow representation starts at the project start, the start node, and follows the critical path through the activities and project parts to completion. This is marked by the target node. For the chronological sequence, time intervals are provided in which the tasks can be postponed. These buffer times have no effect on the project duration.
The network planning technique knows different execution variants. For example, the Critical Path Method( CPM), the Program Evaluation and Review Technique( PERT), the Metra Potential Method( MPM) and the Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique (GERT).