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Project Management Knowledge

PERT Chart Tutorial – Program Evaluation and Review Technique

Break down a project into individual tasks for analysis
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What is the PERT Chart?

In a PERT chart, PERT stands for Project Evaluation and Review Technique. The chart is a diagrammatic representation of a project plan that is primarily used to assess the entire assignment, its completion time, possible bottlenecks, etc. Because all the information in a PERT chart is available in graphical form, sometimes it is also referred to as PERT Diagram.

pert chart example

Source: online.visual-paradigm.com

What is Included in a PERT Chart?

When talking about the entire diagram and its symbols, a PERT Chart is a network diagram that is drawn using arrows and nodes (usually shown by rectangles or circles). While each arrow represents an activity, the node it is connected to depicts the milestone that the project must hit to stick to the schedule.

A couple of things that must be kept in mind while creating a PERT diagram include:

The Components of PERT Chart

Time

Since the efficiency of your team and the project management majorly relies on how timely the final output is delivered, four types of time definitions are used during the assessment and creation of a PERT chart. These definitions are:

  • Optimistic Time – The minimum time that could be required to produce the final, deliverable project.
  • Pessimistic Time – The maximum time that the team could take to come up with the final, deliverable project.
  • Most Likely Time – This is the time that the project managers expect to complete an assignment in assuming that no issues or hurdles would arise during the process.
  • Expected Time – This is the time that the managers expect to complete an assignment in if some hurdles or issue come up while working on the project.
Terminology

Some globally recognized and accepted terms are always there in any field. These jargons are used to save time that would be otherwise wasted while explaining the stuff in detail. Therefore, when working on a PERT chart, it is imperative to ensure that all the participants are well aware of the terminology used in context with the diagram. Some of the most commonly used terms are:

  • Slack/Float – Is the delay in completing a particular module/task of a project without affecting the turnaround time of the final assignment.
  • Critical Path – Reflects the longest approach that the team would take to complete a project.
  • Critical Path Activity – Is the action taken by the team sans slack.
  • Lag Time – Is the time delay between the two tasks, i.e., after the first task is complete and before the second task is initiated.
  • Lead Time – Is the time that is required to complete a particular task without hindering the other, related processes.
  • Fast Tracking – Is the process of working on multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Crashing Critical Path – Is the process of reducing the time that is needed to complete essential tasks.
Implementation

Implementation is most important as it is the main reason you walked through all the above procedures. That said, if your PERT diagram isn’t implemented efficiently, all your previous efforts will go in vain. A couple of things to keep in mind while implementing a PERT chart include:

  • Identification and Placement – It is important to identify all the required tasks to complete a project. Once done, put them in the correct order as in which module needs to be completed first, what comes next, and so on.
  • Creation – After identification, it is now time to create a network diagram that consists of arrows and nodes to represent the activities and milestones respectively.
  • Assessment – After completing a PERT diagram, make sure to analyze it carefully for any critical paths and/or slacks, and eliminate or reduce them as much as you possibly can.

When to Use a PERT Chart?

Because of all the benefits a PERT diagram comes with, it is used everywhere and almost every project. With that being said, a couple of situations where the project managers would want to use a PERT chart include:

  • Turnaround Time – A situation where the managers need to ensure that all the tasks are completed within the scheduled time without any slack, and which critical path they must adopt to get this done.
  • Analyze Interdependent Modules – A project where two or more tasks are interdependent, and the managers need deep analysis to come up with the ‘Optimistic Time.’
  • Time Assessment – Where the managers need to assess the overall time that they would take to complete the final, deliverable project.
  • Assess Complexities – When a project is pretty large and complex and needs to be assessed thoroughly to come up with a perfect implementation plan.

When to Use a PERT Chart?

How to Make a PERT Chart?

Assuming that you have been assigned to manage a software development project with several modules to be taken care of, the first thing that you would want to do is, prepare a PERT diagram to ensure everything remains in place and on time.

You can follow the instructions given below to create an effective PERT chart using the desktop version of EdrawMax in order to make things easier for you and your team members:

Step 1: Pick a PERT Chart Template

Launch EdrawMax on your computer, ensure that New is selected in the navigation bar in the left, select Project Management from the center pane, click PERT Chart from the top of the right window, and click to select a PERT chart template of your preference from the lower area.

PERT Chart Template Gallery

Step 2: Add the Details

Double-click each of the available textboxes, and populate them with the relevant information. Make sure to be as precise as possible in order to keep the chart informative and easy-to-understand.

Add the Details

Step 3: Make Concrete and/or Cosmetic Modifications

Use the Library pane in the left or the options available in the right bar to add more symbols to the diagram or to make other adjustments like changing the fill color, etc. to it, respectively.

Make Concrete and/or Cosmetic Modifications

Step 4: Save/Export the Diagram

Click the Save (Floppy Disc) icon from the top, and use the Browse button available on the Save As window to save the EdrawMax file to your computer. To export the PERT diagram, click Export & Send from the navigation bar on the left, choose your preferred format from the Export pane in the center of the window that comes up next, and choose an appropriate option from the right.

Save/Export the Diagram

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