What is PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique)?

If you are into project management, it goes without saying that there are several elements involved that are worth taking a note of. Owing to the fact that the process requires consistent analysis, it is quite important that you do focus on knowing about the crucial factors involved in this, the PERT chart being one of the most crucial additions.

Pert Chart Example

For those who are still not sure of the process and the significance of this chart, we have sorted you out with everything that you possibly need to know about PERT Chart.

What is PERT Chart?

As mentioned, PERT, otherwise elaborated as the Program Evaluation and Review Technique chart is a method that is used for the examination and analysis of the tasks in a project and the progress and the on time schedule of the same. It also helps determine the variation of the Critical Path Method (CPM) as well.

what is pert

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The main reason why this chart is prepared is because it helps provide with a better outlook on the time that each task in a project will take along with the kind of dependency that each of the elements engage in. It helps determine the minimum time that a project will take to complete on time.

It is believed that the primary reason why this chart is prepared is because it helps in providing with a rough estimation into the possible deadline needed for the project and the longest time it might take for a task to be completed on time.

If you thought that this method is a new one, you are mistaken. This chart was first prepared and used by the US Navy in the year of 1957 for the Polaris nuclear submarine project.

There are several elements and attributes involved in the process of creating a PERT chart which is what makes this such an important addition to the project management sphere.

What are the terminologies involved in a PERT chart?

If you want to decode a PERT chart and know better about it, it is quite important that you are familiar with all the terminologies that are involved with the PERT chart. This is what makes all the difference and can help you create one seamlessly without any kind of confusion involved.

To help guide you better, we have sorted out some of the important terminologies that are worth taking notes of.

Nodes The Nodes are the graphical representations of reaching each of the milestones or even the events included in a project. They are represented with numbered boxes and circles on the chart.
Arrows The Arrows represent the recurring tasks that occur throughout the project. If you are including arrows to represent a task, the direction of the arrow is what indicates the sequence of the task involved. If there are diverging arrows on the chart, it means that the two or more tasks can be completed at the same time.
Fast tracking This is the event wherein the tasks along with the events are conducted and completed simultaneously.
PERT event This represents the specific point at which more or multiple tasks are started and completed. There are predecessor event that occurs just before some of the events and the successor events are the ones that happen just after.
Slack Slack represents the amount of time that one task can be delayed without affecting the overall deadline of the task in question.
Critical path The critical path in a PERT chart represents the longest or the most time consuming path that is involved in the final completion of a task.
Critical path activity The Critical path activity is the task involved in the project that doesn’t experience any kind of slack throughout the process.
Lag time The lag time in a PERT chart is denoted by the earliest point at which one task can follow the other.
Lead time The lead time is simply described as the amount of time required to finish a task without imposing any kind of disruption to the overall process.
Expected time The expected time is the estimated time that will take to ensure seamless completion of a task, keeping all the obstacles and the roadblocks into consideration.
Optimistic time The optimistic time helps suggest and estimate the minimum amount of time it will take to finish a task.
Pessimistic time The pessimistic time denotes the maximum amount of time it will take to finish a task.
Most likely time The most likely time is a safe sided guess as to how long it will take for a task to be completed, assuming that there won’t be any kind of problems in the meanwhile.

How does a PERT Chart function?

Now that you are aware of all the involved terminologies in the PERT chart, the next thing to focus on is the process by which a PERT chart functions. These graphical representations or illustration of the projects consist of a number of nodes that are further linked by the labeled vectors.

When it comes to creating a PERT chart, there are some important factors that the projects managers have to keep in mind.

There are certain steps that are worth looking into. These include:

  • Proper description and definition for all the tasks involved in the project
  • Highlight the dependencies involved in the project
  • Draw the nodes and arrows very clearly on the basis of the information acquired
  • Effectively mention and clarify all the mentioned time for the completion of each task

What are the times that one should use the PERT chart?

PERT charts are not as easy to make as it might seem like. This is the reason why it is important that you focus on gathering all the necessary inputs first and then sit down to allocate things effectively.

Not every project manager will follow the PERT chart and not every project will need one as well.

There are certain situations that are worth talking and highlighting and if those situations arise, that is when a project manager needs to use the PERT chart.

Some of the situations include:

  • For easier and faster assessment of the process’ critical path
  • For better highlighting of the dependencies in the project
  • For estimating the necessary time required for seamless completion of the projects
  • For the preparation of larger and more complex projects in the pipeline

Advantages and disadvantages of PERT chart and analysis

Much like every step in a project management, even the PERT chart and analysis comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Knowing them both helps you make an informed decision on whether or not the same is actually worth the time or a hard pass.

Advantages of PERT Chart

Efficient planning of larger projects

As mentioned, PERT chart has amazing benefits in streamlining larger and complex projects. This helps the project manager schedule and assigns the tasks accordingly without any confusion as such. Knowing the varying prospects involved in the process regarding the time and efficiency does make the project a lot easier to schedule and execute.

Easy visibility of the critical path

Owing to the fact how important knowing the critical path is in a project, it isn’t surprising that project managers do rely on the PERT chart to streamline that aspect. This also provides with a clear understanding of the slack values to further instigate ways that would help prevent the risks for the timely submission without any delay at all.

Better analysis of the activity

Another effective and common benefit of the PERT Chart is the fact that it helps in better understanding of the activities involved in a task that ensures better likelihood of completion in no time. It also does allow you to have a better outlook on the overall growth and progress involved in the project.

Enhanced What-if analysis

Another amazing benefit with the PERT chart is the fact that it helps provide with improved what-if analysis. This helps with improved identification of the loopholes and the obstacles and helps eradicate them before it’s too late. This is necessary to keep the progress of the project in the right pace without any further negations.

Better coordination

Another amazing benefit with the PERT chart that you are likely to experience is better coordination among the team members and the people involved in the project. It allows the data integration and submission from multiple teams and departments, thus keeping a streamlined approach without any further confusion. It also helps provide with a better insight into the responsible roles in the project.

Disadvantages of PERT chart

Subjective analysis

The first and the most common issue with the PERT chart is the fact that it indulges in subjective analysis. What this means is the fact that you need substantial data to further proceed with the completion of the project. What this does is promote lesser accuracy every time there is an inclusion or introduction to a new project.

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Time lags

The one downside with the PERT chart is the fact that the time allocations are based on assumptions and is not fool proof ideologies. Even though the chart itself is very time oriented, not having the basic framework to ensure a concrete result out of the process is something that makes this a Debbie downer.

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The End Note

If you are thinking of starting PERT charting, it is important that you keep into account all the basic ideologies involved and progress along in accordance to that. We have mentioned all the basic factors necessary to know, hoping that the same would come in handy for you.

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