Networks are called arrow diagrams. They provide a graphical representation of a project plan showing the relationships of the activities.
What does CPM have to do with this? Knowing where the critical path is in a project allows you to determine the impact on the project of a scope or priority change. You know which activities will be affected most severely and what might need to be done to regain lost time. It also allows informed decision making by management. Thus, CPM, used properly, can be an invaluable tool.
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