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PERT Charts 

What is a PERT Chart Definition Examples and Overview

by Ragini Salampure

Introduction

A Program Evaluation Review Technique or PERT chart is a project handling tool that helps provide a graphic presentation of a project’s timeline. These charts enable the breaking down of major tasks into small fragments, which are easily understandable and make sense of simplicity in the project’s performance. These charts are preferable over Gantt charts since they help identify task dependencies that are usually hard to interpret.

How does PERT chart Function?

The PERT chart enables the manager of a project to analyse the overall tasks and estimate the time required to accomplish each task. This aids the project manager to determine the minimum time needed to accomplish the given project. This also adds additional value to the project manager since, based on the analysis made, the project manager can also help develop a project budget and determine the resources required to accomplish the project.

A PERT chart uses different shapes such as a circle or a rectangle representing nodes of various events of a project rather called milestones. These nodes are linked to each other with the help of vector or lines which represents various tasks. This also helps determine the chronology of events in the project, thus giving the project manager a structured plan of action. For Instance, if there is an arrow from Task 1 to Task 2, then Task 1 must be accomplished first, followed by Task 2.

Also, one must note that items at the same stage of the chart but on different tasks are referred to as parallel tasks. These tasks are not dependent on each other but plan to occur at the same time.

Interpreting PERT Chart

Until now, it’s been evident that this PERT chart is a visual representation of a sequence of events that must occur during the project’s lifetime. Direction arrows indicate the flow and sequence of events required to complete the project. Dotted lines represent dummy actions on another PERT path. Each vector has a time allocation for a certain activity that is assigned and displayed inside it.

These graphs use distinct language, with optimistic time referring to the quickest time to complete the task and pessimistic time referring to the longest time to complete the task. A fair estimate of the best-case scenario is also referred to as the most likely time.

Pros and Cons of PERT Chart

Pros:

  • A PERT chart enables the managers to estimate the time and other resources required to manage a project. This estimation includes the ability to track the required resources anytime during any production stage in the entire project.
  • PERT analysis consolidates data and information from multiple departments of an organisation. This consolidation of information encourages department responsibility and identifies all responsible personnel across the organisation. 
  • It also helps improve communication during the project and allows the organisation to commit to projects relevant to its strategic positioning. 
  • A PERT diagram makes the goals reasonably achievable, where a project manager can view the whole project in a single glimpse.
  • A PERT chart is also effective for What-If Analysis, allowing management to determine the most efficient and useful project path by understanding the possibilities regarding the flow of project resources and milestones. 
  • It can also assist the project manager in anticipating changes in estimates in the event of uncertainty during the project.

Cons:

  • A PERT chart is highly subjective to the organisation’s beliefs, and management’s experience determines its success. 
  • These charts may contain incorrect data or unrealistic cost or time estimates, which can be a huge disadvantage for a business using them in their planning process.

Real-World PERT chart examples

The US Navy Special Projects Office first used a PERT chart in 1957 to guide their Polaris Fleet Ballistic Missile Project. Using these charts, the project managers were in a position to evaluate the progress of the project, determine the validity of schedules, and also were able to estimate the aftermath effects of proposed changes to the established plans. The positive response led to the large-scale usage of such charts in various industries. 

Conclusion

A PERT chart has its pros and cons. It depends on how you perceive and utilise it. PERT charts are nowadays used almost everywhere, where there is a need for proper planning and estimation of a project.

PERT Project Management is still used in many industries to maintain their operations. These charts are quite useful in scenarios where organisations need to examine the feasibility of a project. For the project manager, it becomes quite an easy job to declare all their analysis with the help of the chart. This can even help properly formulate tasks since they are performed in chronological and are performed as mentioned. To gain a steady understanding of PERT, you can do a product management courses online and establish a successful career in this field. 

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