Everything You Need To Know About PERT in Project Management

Working in project management means knowing all about several important acronym and PERT is another one that you need to be able to understand and judge whether it is appropriate for use in your projects. PERT stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique, and it is a statistical tool created for analyzing the tasks that make up a project.

PERT in project management is often compared to the Critical Path method, which aims to fulfill a similar purpose of analyzing and representing the project tasks in a visual chart, similar to a GANTT chart. Both of these methods were created in the 1950s (while the GANTT chart dates back to the 1910s) and have become cornerstones of project management in the decades since.

Willard Fazar, head of the Program Evaluation Branch of the US Navy’s Special Projects Office, which created PERT, summed it up, saying: “Through an electronic computer, the PERT technique processes data representing the major, finite accomplishments (events) essential to achieve end-objectives; the interdependence of those events; and estimates of time and range of time necessary to complete each activity between two successive events.

The technique is a management control tool that sizes up the outlook for meeting objectives on time; highlights danger signals requiring management decisions; reveals and defines both methodicalness and slack in the flow plan or the network of sequential activities that must be performed to meet objectives; compares current expectations with scheduled completion dates and computes the probability for meeting scheduled dates; and simulates the effects of options for decision — before decision.”

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What Is a PERT Chart?

Central to the way you use PERT is the chart, which represents the events and milestones within the project in a visual manner. Events within the process are identified via nodes (these can be either circles or rectangles) and they are linked together by lines and arrows called vectors, and it’s the vectors that determine the order in which the events need to take place.

When vectors diverge from a node, that can show events that need to take place concurrently, while dotted line vectors signify events that are done in sequence but don’t require resources.

The following is an example of a PERT chart in the context of software development:

pert chart example

How Do You Use PERT In Project Management?

PERT was created to discover the time needed to complete each task necessary for the project and thus the minimum time required for completion of the whole thing. It’s possible to create the chart without knowing all of the key details as it is event-focused rather than orientated around the start and completion, unlike many other project plans.

Understanding The Terminology

PERT comes with several terms that you need to understand to be able to properly utilize it:

Pert Step By Step

Advantages & Disadvantages Of PERT

We’ve already established that PERT has similarities to some other tools you can use in project management, but what are the pros and cons of selecting it over the alternatives?



Conclusion: Using PERT In Project Management

PERT may have been created by the US Navy as part of a nuclear submarine project, but it has become widely-used in all industries where project management is required, as Maribeth Brennan explained in 1968: “Since that time, it has been used extensively not only by the aerospace industry but also in many situations where management desires to achieve an objective or complete a task within a scheduled time and cost expenditure; it came into popularity when the algorithm for calculating a maximum value path was conceived.”

Today it is often best used as part of a suite of project management and collaboration software tools, like GANTT charts for example. This helps overcome some of the disadvantages mentioned in this article, ensuring a wide-ranging and robust approach to managing the project and estimating the completion time.

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