A network diagram illustrates the relationships between different objects. In personal finance or business, for example, a network diagram can give you a bird's eye view of income sources and expenditures. Network diagrams can be drawn on paper with a pencil, or with project management software like Microsoft Visio. Microsoft Excel also has the tools you need to make a professional-looking network diagram.
Make a list of all of the components in your network. For example, a network diagram of your personal finances would include your checking account and savings account, all revenue sources and all expenditures. In a network diagram of a sales process, components could be the sale itself, as well as everything before and after the sale, ranging from advertising and prospecting to product delivery and repair services.
Identify the focus of your diagram. If it's a diagram of your personal finances, this could be one of your bank accounts. In a sales diagram, it could be the sale itself.
Identify all of the components leading to the focus of your diagram and then all of the components leading from it. This helps you determine where you will be placing the components in the diagram. You can now draw the network on paper or use a program like Microsoft Excel.
Drawing a Network Diagram in Excel
Launch Microsoft Excel and open a blank workbook. Select "Shapes" in the Illustrations group of the Insert tab. Select a shape, such as a rectangle.
Select a place to put the focus component of the diagram. While the focus is often placed in the middle of the diagram, if you have 12 components leading to it and only two leading out from it, it's better to put the focus on the right or bottom of the worksheet.
Drag the mouse over the workbook where you want the focus component of the diagram to be. Make the shape large enough so you can later add a text box over it.
Add the additional components to the diagram using the Shape tool. Consider using similar shapes for similar components. Expenditures, for example, could be squares and revenue could be circles.
Connect components to those that come before or after it using connector lines. Select "Shapes" from the Insert tab and right-click a connector. Select "Lock Drawing Mode." When you click two shapes, the line automatically connects them.
Insert a text box to describe each component. In Excel, select "Text Box" in the Text group of the Insert tab. Drag the mouse over the shape in your diagram to create the text box. You can edit the font size, color and style in the Font group of the Home tab.