How to measure the network topology

The network topology of a project network is an important parameter in the choice of project control approach, as discussed in the book Measuring Time.

ProTrack calculates this topological network structure using four indicators between 0 and 1. The intuitive meaning of the four indicators is briefly discussed along the following lines. An indication is given of their meaning for the extreme values 0 and 1, but obviously, all intermediate values can occur in real projects.

  • Serial/Parallel Indicator (SP): Measures how closely the project network lies to a 100% parallel (SP = 0) or 100% serial (SP = 1) network. This indicator can be considered as a measure for the amount of critical and non-critical activities in a network. This network parameter is an input parameter during project generation, while the three others are output parameters.
  • Activity Distribution (AD): Measures the distribution of the activities along the network, from a uniformly distribution across the project network (AD = 0) to a highly skewed distribution (e.g. a lot of activities in the beginning, following by only a few activities near the end) (AD = 1). Consequently, the AD indicator serves as a measure for the workload variability.
  • Length of Arcs (LA): Measures the length of each precedence relation between two activities as the distance between two activities in the project network. A project network can have many precedence relations between two activities lying far from each other (LA = 0) and hence, most activities can be shifted further in the network. When all precedence relations have a length of one (LA = 1), all project activities have only immediate successors with little freedom to shift.
  • Topological Float (TF): Measures the degrees of freedom for each activity as the amount of slack or float an activity has in the project network. TF = 0 when the network structure is 100% dense and no activities can be shifted within its structure. A network with TF = 1 consists of one serial chain of activities without topological float (this chain defines the SP value) while the remaining activities have a maximal float value.
The values of the topological indicators is automatically calculated when project data is added. These values can be obtained by clicking on the "Baseline" menu, go to "Baseline" and go to "Topological Indicators", as illustrated in the screenshot below.