PERT Charts: What are They and How are They Useful?

27 October6 min read
PERT Charts: What are They and How are They Useful?

Planning a project can be highly stressful, leaving you exhausted, depleted of energy, and near-depressed. Hopefully, our PERT chart software will lighten your load, improve your workflow, and have a positive impact on your project.

What is a PERT chart?

The Program Evaluation and Review Technique Chart (PERT Chart) is a visual management tool for mapping and tracking tasks and deadlines. The US Navy developed the PERT Chart methodology in the 1950s to manage the Polaris missile submarine project. The PERT Chart was originally an arithmetic diagram used to find a set of critical paths, according to PMI.

PERT Charts use nodes, typically represented as rectangles or circles, to illustrate activities and achievements across a project. These nodes will be connected later by arrows representing various activities that must be completed.

Although not as popular as its 'sibling,' the Critical Path Method (CPM), the PERT Chart is still used effectively by project managers to make realistic scheduling decisions by establishing the estimated status for each duration (optimistic time, most likely time, and pessimistic time). When planning projects with uncertain activity durations, PERT charts come in handy.

How is a PERT Chart Implemented?

A PERT chart is a graphical representation of a sequence of events that must occur during the life of a project. The flow and line of events required are indicated by the direction of the arrows.

Dummy activities are represented by dotted activity lines, which are items on another PERT path. Inside each vector, numbers and time allotments are assigned and displayed.

These charts have their definitions and terminology, the most important of which predict how long it will take to complete a project. The shortest duration is referred to as "optimistic time." The longest it could take is "pessimistic time." The "most likely time" represents a reasonable estimate of the best-case scenario, whereas the "expected time" takes problems and obstacles into account.

How Are PERT Charts Used In Project Management?

A PERT chart can be used in a variety of ways. The fact that a PERT chart will map an entire project from start to finish makes it the most effective method.

This allows the teams to quickly identify 'bottlenecks' in the campaign, which can then be addressed immediately. Instead of waiting for problems to arise, this saves a lot of time in the long run.

A PERT chart is simply a series of steps that you can take to achieve your desired goal.

Along the way, you'll assign an evaluation rating or a time to how long your team believes each step will take. The three possible outcomes are optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely.

Time can be displayed in days, months, or hours.

This allows you to real-time your project and creates a more realistic schedule. By putting all of your information into a PERT chart, you can easily visualize your project, allowing you to effectively distribute each task to the appropriate department and giving you complete control over how your project will turn out.

How are PERT Charts Useful?

One of the main advantages of using a PERT chart is that it can help you keep track of your progress and identify which areas may need more attention. The chart also promotes accountability by allowing each team member working on the project to see how their work compares to the work of others in specific categories. Other advantages of using PERT charts include:

  • Project Analysis

A project leader, a team member, or anyone else who needs to know can quickly refer to the chart to see where a project is, how it's progressing, and what stage the project is at. This makes project management much more accessible. This is ideal, especially in terms of resource allocation and budgeting.

  • Department Coordination

By integrating and presenting data from multiple departments, PERT analysis improves planning and decision-making. Gathering qualitative and quantitative data from multiple sources also aids in project coordination and improves departmental communication.

PERT identifies responsible departments as well as each individual's project role. The visibility of responsibility areas encourages management commitment to the project. Furthermore, PERT reveals activity interdependencies and aids in the creation of a master plan that provides a current view of business operations.

  • Ease in Tracking

PERT charts are frequently used to assess the time and resources required for project management. They enable managers to track assets and overall project progress during the project execution stage. This allows them to estimate how long it will take team members to complete tasks.

  • Large Project Planning

According to the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, a PERT chart facilitates the planning of large projects. It provides answers to three key questions about each activity, assisting managers in identifying task relationships and task dependencies. These questions concern how long it will take to complete an activity and which other activities must take place immediately before and after this activity for the project to be completed effectively. PERT is an excellent tool for visualizing these relationships in a diagram.

  • Manages Uncertainty

One of PERT Chart's capabilities is its ability to deal with project uncertainty. This method estimates the time required for each activity in detail, down to minutes and hours, to determine the activity's completion time. Even though the calculations are based on subjective assumptions, PERT charts can assist project managers in visualizing the entire project timeline and taking into account various aspects of it.

  • Improves Decision Making

Combining data from multiple sources can help you gain a better understanding of projects and how they affect various departments. This knowledge aids decision-making for those working on current projects and those future planning initiatives. PERT assists in identifying and tracking project activity. Furthermore, it reveals interdepartmental dependency, providing managers with insight into how their department functions in other areas of responsibility. This data can aid in the planning of the company's development process.

  • Visible Critical Path

The critical path encompasses all activities that cannot be postponed without jeopardizing the project's completion date. According to the University of Virginia, PERT makes the critical path visible. All tasks that are not on the critical path can be given some wiggle room without affecting project completion time. When the project manager needs to postpone one task to devote more time to another, the critical path indicates which tasks cannot be postponed.

  • What-if Analysis

A PERT chart necessitates sequencing project activities in a network according to a set of rules defining critical and sub-critical paths. The critical path is the longest sequence of activities and events - milestones - in the project, and it determines how many days are needed to complete it.

A what-if analysis identifies project-related possibilities and uncertainties. Different combinations and permutations of activities are tested, and the most useful option is chosen, minimizing project surprises and waste. The what-if analysis also identifies the activities that pose the greatest project risk and necessitate close monitoring throughout the project.

Final Thoughts

A PERT chart depicts all of the critical deliverables required to complete a project.

It specifies the amount of time and resources required to complete each task, as well as the person or department in charge of each.

The key deliverables or tasks are represented by arrows that indicate the order in which they must be completed, as well as the dependencies between them.

PERT charts can assist you in reducing the amount of time you spend on a project. To do so, you must first determine which activities consume the majority of your time. If you want to shorten the duration of an activity so that projects can be completed more quickly, you should concentrate your efforts on better planning and more efficient task execution.