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Projects help organisations to focus on the job and give it special attention above regular tasks. Companies undertake projects to complete certain jobs within a fixed time and budget. Unlike the routine work done by companies, a project has a beginning and end. Project managers manage all projects and use various tools to ensure the completion of a project on time. PERT in project management is a tool that helps project managers evaluate the progress of the work and ensure that the job is completed on time.
Before understanding PERT, we should first know what project management is and what challenges a project manager faces in completing the work. The Advanced Certificate Course in Operations, Supply Chain and Project Management is an excellent program to learn about project management and PERT. A visit to our website will teach you more about this program and how it benefits an aspiring project manager.
What Is Project Management?
Projects are temporary efforts to create a product or service that adds value to the company and its customers. Every project has a team, a budget and a deadline and is different from the regular work of a firm. All resources are temporarily allocated to a project. People are selected from various departments and assigned to the project. Project management is the function of leading the people and using resources to ensure the timely completion of the work. PERT in project management is one of the most effective tools used by leaders of project teams.
Companies practised project management from time immemorial to finish tasks that were out of the ordinary. But in the mid-20th century, certain professionals with forward-thinking decided that there should be a function with specialised tools to undertake and complete special jobs in an organisation. Since then, companies have been increasingly using this method to complete various types of jobs successfully within a set time and budget. PERT in project management is a tool that has helped the leaders of such projects complete their work more efficiently. That is how project management was born.
PERT In Project Management Explained
So, what is PERT in project management? PERT can be expanded as Program Evaluation And Review Technique, and it is a tool that is used for planning in project management. One must understand and estimate all the details to complete a project successfully. This is especially true if the work is a complex one. These details include scheduling, organising and coordinating the various jobs within a project. PERT is a tool that helps project managers estimate the time to complete specific tasks in a project. The results are available as time estimates.
PERT in project management produces three-time estimates: optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic. From the names, one can understand what these represent. The optimistic estimate gives the minimum required time to complete the task. The pessimistic estimate gives the maximum time it can take to complete a job. The most likely estimate falls in between these two. PERT is represented in a chart, and the project team uses it to finish their tasks within the given time. This chart can also reveal the order in which the team must complete jobs.
Decoding The PERT Chart
We will now see how the tasks are represented in the chart for PERT in project management. The chart is a network of boxes and arrows. The boxes represent the tasks to be completed, and the arrows denote the sequence in which project managers must execute them. The boxes are called nodes. There are labelled lines between the boxes called vectors. The labels on the lines indicate the job to be done. Numbers are given alongside the lines, representing the time allotted for that particular task. All the team members must follow these.
Concurrent lines in a PERT chart denote tasks we must do one after the other. You must complete one to proceed to the next task. There are also divergent lines in this chart. These represent tasks that are independent of one another and may be executed simultaneously. Looking at the chart for PERT in project management, the PM and team members can easily calculate the estimated time it will take to complete the project. As everything is given graphically, all team members can understand the chart easily.
Terminologies In A PERT Chart
Activities are tasks that are part of a project. Arrows represent these in the PERT chart. The arrows can be straight, slanting or bent, but they must not be broken. The arrow’s tail denotes the beginning of a task, while the head represents its end. The task to be completed is mentioned alongside the line.
An event is denoted in the chart for PERT in project management as a circle or rectangle. It is either the start or end of a task; hence, it does not require any resources. There is no time or effort spent on the event. When numerous tasks begin from an event, it is known as a bursting event. If many tasks finish at the same event, it is called a margining event.
It is a path connecting a series of events and leading to the end of the project. The longest path to the end is known as the critical path, which is very important in the PERT chart. It is the path that represents the duration of the project. Every activity in this path is a critical activity, and any delay in completing them can delay the whole project.
Time estimates represent the time taken for the completion of each task. There are three estimates in a PERT chart. These are the optimistic, most likely and pessimistic estimates. The first is the shortest time, and the last is the longest. The second estimate lies between these two.
It is the freedom available to the project manager to start an event. It is the time by which you can delay an event. It is only associated with an event. Any event with zero slack is a critical activity.
It is the duration by which the team can delay an activity without affecting the project’s total duration.
Creating A PERT Chart
Know The Tasks And Activities
The first step to creating a chart for PERT in project management is clearly understanding your tasks and activities. You must be thorough with all the general and specific details of the project if you want to create a chart that will help you in the project. The chart must represent both dependent and independent tasks in the project for it to be effective. All the details of the tasks must be mentioned in the chart so that you can prioritise them correctly. Mention the final goal and the milestone of the project in the chart.
Sequence Is Crucial
Understanding the sequence of activities is very important to create a chart for PERT in project management because you will not know how to proceed with the job without this. If you mention the flow of activities correctly, it will also help the team members know which ones they must complete first. If the sequence is not mentioned in the chart, you will not be able to correctly assess whether the project is progressing as per plan. It can greatly harm the work and delay its completion.
Represent Time Correctly
Time is a critical element in any project. PERT in project management helps mainly in ensuring that all tasks are completed on time. It means that you must correctly mention each task’s time on the chart. It would be best if you correctly calculated the three time estimates: optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic. You must then decide which estimate each task falls in and represent that in the chart. There is no point in preparing the chart unless you have calculated the time estimates properly.
Calculate The Critical Path
Creating the chart for PERT in project management is useful only if you can calculate the critical path accurately. But this can be completed only once you have done the above tasks. When you have done the above steps, you can see how much time it will take for the completion of the project. From this, you can calculate the critical path, which is the longest path that will take you to the completion of the project. It is also necessary to know the risks and uncertainties that can occur on the path you have chosen to take.
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Benefits Of Using PERT Chart
Calculate Time Correctly
Time is one of the key constraints in any project. Companies want projects to be completed quickly so that they can get benefits. But all the tasks in a project have to be executed perfectly for the success of the project, and this takes time. Knowing the time taken for each task helps the PM correctly assess when the project can be completed. PERT in project management uses three-time estimates, and this helps the project manager know exactly when the team will complete each task.
Understand The Dependency Of Each Task
A project consists of several jobs, many of which are dependent on each other. There are sequential tasks that can be done only if the previous task is executed. Project managers must know the correct sequence of work and understand which task is dependent on another one. This will help them plan the project correctly and give an estimate of when it will be completed. The chart for PERT in project management helps to chart the tasks in sequence and also shows the dependent tasks accurately. This allows the team also to know which tasks can be done simultaneously.
Analyse Paths And Understand Obstacles
There may be different paths to completing a project. The project manager must use the shortest route to completion while also considering the resource constraints of the organisation. Using PERT in project management helps PMs to chart the most suitable and use it for quick completion of tasks. It also helps them understand the obstacles and risks that they may face if a particular path is chosen. The chart also helps in making the critical path which is the longest path to completion.
Strategic planning is essential for the completion of a project successfully. This is possible only if the project team can visualise the path and time through which the project has to move. Using PERT in project management helps the team to understand what strategies would be best to complete each task within the time allocated for it. It also helps to improve communication between the team and the project managers. As the tool allows everyone to see the plan, they can come up with strategies and communicate the same to their leader using the tool.
Gather The Required Resources
Resources are critical to all projects. Organisations don’t have an unending supply of resources, and this means that the project manager must gather the necessary resources for the tasks to complete them within the deadline. When the PM uses the PERT in project management, it helps to understand exactly what resources are needed at which stage of the project. This helps in requisitioning these from the company and keeping them ready when the tasks begin. Project managers will not face any lack of resources in this manner.
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PERT in project management is an extremely useful tool for project managers to complete their projects within the deadline. It helps them know which activities need to be completed within the timeline and where they can have a little extra time to deal with unforeseen events. The chart allows them to identify the risks and dangers that can occur in a project. But most importantly, the PERT chart helps them identify the tasks that are related and how much time is needed to complete each task effectively.