Sometimes thrusting yourself headfirst into work is not the best of decisions. Proper planning and division of work can miraculously reduce the time and effort required on your part. Having a viewable chart makes the process even easier to follow.
Enter PERT chart.
Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) Chart is a project management tool that showcases a project’s timeline. The chart break down the project into individual tasks, estimates the minimum time required for each task, and then calculates the overall minimum time necessary for completing the whole project.
PERT charts display dependencies between tasks and are very similar to Gantt charts. Gantt charts include horizontal bar graphs, while PERT charts are laid out as a network diagram. However, unlike Gantt charts, PERT charts are more straightforward and easier to understand.
The tool PMs to organize their project allows efficiency to incur maximum profits. Since the PERT chart is a graphical representation, it makes it super easy to read and understand the chart at first glance. Each box in the chart represents a different task, and the arrows linking tasks represent task dependencies.
PERT Charts – A Short Backstory
Frederick Taylor is regarded as the founding father of the technique. However, it was later refined by Henry Ford. Ever since its development, the method of visual project management has been used for small, simple projects and large, more complex projects.
The technique was first developed in 1957 to support US Navy’s Nuclear submarine project. The acronym initially stood for Program Evaluation Research Task but was renamed by 1959 to Program Evaluation Review Technique.
One of the first instances, when the PERT technique was used, was in Grenoble for the 1968 Winter Olympics, when the method was used from 1965 to 1968.
Pros and Cons of PERT Charts
When you first dive into the world of project management, you will realize that there is more than one way of going about your project. In fact, there are multiple approaches you can adopt to organize your project. PERT chart is one of these approaches to accomplishing the goals of your project.
Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of the chart that might help you decide whether the PERT chart tool online is your cup of tea or not.
Starting off with the pros, PERT chart:
- Allows PMs to calculate the time estimates required for each task in the process and the process on the whole. Also, it helps decide which resources are the most appropriate for the project.
- Provides a detailed view of how the tasks are organized and the sequence in which the tasks are to be completed.
- Significantly lowers the cost and time you spend on tasks by identifying the path with minimal duration.
- Helps identify businesses different paths for the completion of a project. PMs can then choose the path that suits the project the most.
- Creating a PERT chart is a great way of improving communication across all channels, engaging all team members, and enhancing work relationships in the company.
- These charts bring a lot of clarity to the project. The chart makes it easy to identify tasks, dependencies, resources, deadlines, etc.
- Allows PMs to keep track of the process to make changes whenever, wherever necessary, and make sure that the project stays on track.
- PERT chart is not the product of a single mind. In opposition, different departments come together to make the chart. This helps define the responsible parties and encourages participation as well.
Here are a few disadvantages of the tool:
- Since it is focused on meeting deadlines, it might not be the best tool for the budget and financing of the project.
- Any miscalculation in the initial stages of the development of the chart can lead to disastrous outcomes in the later stages.
- These charts are more subjective than objective. The opinions and experiences of the individuals involved in the development processes may impact the outcomes.
- Creating a PERT chart is not easy. You have to invest considerable time and effort to ensure the chart is accurate.
Seeing these cons might discourage you from adopting the technique but don’t worry. These advantages will not stand in your way if you take the help of the PERT chart tool online.
PERT Chart Tool Online
Considering how difficult it can be to create a chart of your own, several companies have jumped to your rescue, offering a tool using which you can create your very own PERT chart.
With the help of a PERT chart tool, you can make a dynamic chart for your project. Not only that, but you can create the chart relatively easily, share the chart with stakeholders and others, and update the chart as and when needed.
There is various project management software that offers PERT charts or allows you to incorporate your chart with Gantt charts to add other details into the mix and make the chart much more efficient.
When Should You Use the PERT Chart for Your Project?
How will you decide if the PERT chart is the right tool for you or if you should be adopting the tool for your project? Here are some key pointers that might help you with that decision:
- It is probably best to use the chart if the project you have to work on is complex. Using a PERT chart, you can divide the various aspects of your project into smaller chunks, identify which tasks are dependent ones, and determine the order in which you should complete each item on the list.
- You don’t necessarily have to use the project for creating a workflow. You can also use it for your feasibility report to determine your project’s time for completion.
- You can also use the chart to determine the critical path for the project.
- PERT charts come in really handy if and when you want to display the task dependencies. The visual representation can help you link tasks and determine which ones are dependent on which ones and how.
- Last but not least, PERT charts are handy when determining the time needed to complete the project.
So, you can use the tool whenever you encounter any of the above situations or anything else. The choice, at the end, depends on you, so choose wisely.
How To Make a PERT Chart?
No matter whether you are using the PERT chart tool online or just creating a chart in Word, having a little knowledge of the process will make it much simpler and more fun for you. Here’s how you can create a PERT chart of your own:
Identify All the Tasks
First things first – determine all the tasks that must be done to complete the project. To do so, gather all the information about the project, even the minutest details, and divide your project into smaller chunks accordingly. You can hold a meeting, learn about past experiences of people with similar projects, etc., to make a list of all the tasks in the project.
Once you have everything in hand, you can identify and define the dependencies. Determine which tasks are dependent on others and how the tasks are linked in the big picture. Clarity on task dependencies is helpful when you organize the tasks in order later.
Once you have developed clarity on task dependencies, you can start linking the tasks and create a general picture showingcasing the sequence of all tasks in the process.
Calculate Duration for Completion
Now that you have determined all the tasks and task dependencies, you can identify the time frame for the completion of the project. You can use the critical path method to identify the maximum amount of time required to complete all the tasks in the process. With this information, you can then identify the shortest time as well. Time calculation can be done on the following basis:
- Optimistic Time (O): The minimum amount of time required to complete a task.
- Pessimistic Time (P): The maximum amount of time required to complete a task.
- Most likely Time (M): The most likely time estimate for the task.
You can use the PERT formula to calculate the expected duration of completion of a task. The PERT formula is (O + (4 x M) + P) ÷ 6. Using this formula, you can calculate the time in hours, days, months, or even weeks.
Your job does not end with the chart. Once the chart is complete, you have to track progress to ensure it is working right. You might also want to update the chart as and when needed.
Draw the Chart
Now you have all the information you need for the chart, all that is left is charting itself. Use a PERT chart tool online to draw your chart and start working immediately.
What Features Should an Ideal PERT Chart Tool Have?
Here are some core features that we think a good PERT chart tool must have:
- Gantt Charts: By incorporating your PERT chart with Gantt charts, you can add more details to the project and make it much more efficient than it previously was. You can add start and end dates, set milestones, assign resources, and more.
- Link Dependencies: The tool should offer simple drag and drop features for task dependencies without making it a hassle. Linking dependencies keeps you on track.
- Project Timeline: An ideal tool will allow you to create a project timeline with acute accuracy. With start and end dates, milestones, deadlines, etc., you can streamline your project to a great extent.
- Critical Path Calculation: Critical path calculation is a piece of cake with tools that offer that functionality; otherwise, it takes a lot of effort, time, and skills on your part.
- Project Dashboard: Being able to view the chart anytime you want is your priority, and a good tool will do that for you, offering not only one particular view but multiple.
- Reports: How great would it be if you could get regular updates, statistics, and reports on your performance. A good tool will do that for you and update you whenever you want.
Finding a tool that offers many features might be a bit of a stretch for you. Given that there are many project management tools that offer all the above features and hundreds of others. Here is a tip! Look for the one that’s not only feature-rich, but it has a clean, user-friendly interface, iOS, and Android apps, two-step authentication security, multiple integrations, and more.