Precedence diagrams – the right tool for every task

With objectiF RPM, you can generate precedence diagrams from your project plans and activities – either as MS Visio or PDF documents. This feature can be found in the context menu of the activities. What are precedence diagrams exactly, what advantages do they offer, and how can you use objectiF RPM to create them?

With the help of precedence diagrams, projects can be well thought through and logical dependencies can be recognized. They show temporal constraints and illustrate the effects of changing appointments. Precedence diagrams contain information about the duration of individual appointments and give information at a glance about how much time a process in demand can take, if that will influence the following processes (the free buffer), i.e. how long a process can be put off without delaying the project’s end (the total buffer). Additionally, activities will be identified that have no buffer – that means delaying them delays the whole project. These activities will be identified as critical processes. The chain of these critical processes is the critical path through whose display the appointment situation will be designated. You can easily recognize which activities are particularly decisive for a smooth-running project, where the pressure of appointments is particularly strong, and what is depended upon to make sure that the appointments are met. Precedence diagrams are therefore a sensible and recommended method of project planning, because they deliver an exact time analysis. By generating precedence diagrams, project planning in objectiF RPM is obviously refined and, especially useful for complex projects, it is possible to break the planning down into pieces.

One reason that the precedence diagram method is less popular in project planning than Gantt charts, for example, is the seemingly high amount of effort required. For every activity, a processing time is needed, at the end there is a forward calculation of the information about the project duration and the earliest possible end date. Using backward calculation, the latest start point and the critical path will be determined. Even with complex projects that each have an equally large usage of two-level project planning, the manual creation of precedence diagrams is no small task. Once created, a precedence diagram is in no way set in stone. As a tool of the project monitoring, it has to be adapted and corrected according to the project progress. A planning and project software can help to keep the effort of changing and updating precedence diagrams low. If you already use objectiF RPM for planning your project activities, then project planning with precedence diagrams takes absolutely no extra effort. With the press of a button you can generate a precedence diagram at any point and use it to plan or update your appointments. objectiF RPM takes over the strenuous forward and back planning, so you can use the precedence diagram technique just as easily as Gantt charts.

Der Funktionsaufruf zur Netzplanerstellung

Calling up the precedence diagram generation feature – a precedence diagram is just one click away!

Ideally, the precedence diagram is accessible for all employees who are taking part in the project. From a technical point of view, this requirement is fulfilled by objectiF RPM, but it should also be ensured that all participants in the project can read a precedence diagram and cope with it. To be certain, objectiF RPM offers a legend with every precedence diagram, to facilitate reading the information.

Generierter Netzplan mit Legende

Generated precedence diagrams with legends – easy to read with a little bit of practice

The advantage of automatically generated precedence diagrams also comes into effect when considering the tricky question of a sensible degree of detail. On the one hand, a very detailed plan helps to keep an overview of individual project steps. On the other hand, it needs more strenuous control. The more processes and  successors there are influencing each other, the more the plan has to be altered when changes take place. To find the perfect degree of details is one of the biggest challenges when drafting precedence diagrams. objectiF RPM also offers support here, as filters can be set when generating precedence diagrams. That’s how you can easily create your precedence diagram in different degrees of detail for different use cases or questions. All you have to do is set the filters in objectiF RPM. The results might look like this:

Gantt-Chart mit passendem Netzplan

A filtered Gantt chart with the filtered precedence diagram generated from it

Have fun using the precedence diagram method! If you have questions about the scope of the features of objectiF RPM or suggestions for improvements to the precedence diagram generation feature, please get in touch with us, either via email at or on the telephone 030/467086-20. We are looking forward to being in touch!


Nathalie Günther was an IT consultant at microTOOL and supported customers with the implementation of suitable project management solutions. As a BA business economist and a MSC in information systems, she found software solutions that support individual customer requirements and business processes particularly valuable. She used her experience from years as an IT project manager and a consultant in the area of IT supported processes in a variety of branches and businesses. She is also a lecturer for business process management at the Münster University of Applied Sciences. We wish her the best for the future!

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