Imagine that you have to attend a formal dinner with your colleagues. You’re likely to spend some time thinking about when you will wrap up work, what you will wear and how long it will take you to commute to the venue. In other words, you’ll allocate different time frames to a series of activities that lead up to you arriving for dinner on time.

Businesses use a similar method called the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) to plan and manage multiple projects efficiently. Want to learn more about PERT? Read on.

What Is PERT?

The PERT method, developed in the 1950s for the US Navy, is a project management tool that helps calculate the amount of time it will take to realistically finish a project.

When businesses work on complex projects, they need to complete a series of activities in a particular sequence within a predetermined time frame. If the time frames for each of these activities is not estimated accurately, the team may not be able to meet the project deadline. This kind of planning and estimation is even more crucial if a project involves multiple stakeholders.

This is where PERT analysis comes in. It helps break a project down into several tasks and estimate three sets of timelines for each of the tasks. The first is the shortest possible amount of time the task can take. The second is the amount of time it is most likely to take. The third is an estimate of the longest it might take to complete the task if things don’t go as planned.

What Is A PERT Chart?

A PERT chart, also known as a PERT diagram, is a graphical representation of the data generated from a PERT analysis. It is laid out in the form of a timeline. A PERT chart helps project managers determine key factors such as resources and task delegation.

Here is a list of the core components of a PERT chart:

  • Float or slack: The amount of time a task can be delayed, without causing an overall delay

  • Critical path: The longest possible path or track from the beginning to the end of a task

  • Critical path activity: An activity without slack or a delay in any tas)

  • Lead time: The amount of time needed to complete a single task without affecting the subsequent tasks

  • Lag time: The earliest time by which a task can follow its predecessor or previous task

  • Fast tracking: A scenario where multiple tasks or activities are performed parallelly

  • Crashing critical path: Shortening the amount of time taken to complete a critical task

How To Create A PERT Chart

A PERT chart uses rectangles or circles to represent the different events or milestones of a project. These are known as nodes. The nodes indicate the beginning or endpoint of tasks.

The nodes are linked by arrows called vectors or task lines that represent the various tasks. The direction of the vectors indicates the sequence of activities or the flow of events.

Items at the same stage of production but on different vectors are called parallel tasks. Although they’re independent of each other, they’re planned to occur at the same time.

How To Use A PERT Chart

If you want to implement PERT in project management, you need to:

  • Identify the different tasks and arrange them in the right order

  • Indicate a time frame for each task

  • Create a network diagram using arrows to connect nodes that represent various tasks

  • Determine the critical path and highlight the possible slack

Significance Of PERT In Project Management

In a world of tremendous growth and rapid development, organizations are experiencing more competition than ever. If project managers want to deliver results at a faster rate, PERT is an effective solution. Here are some of the benefits of a PERT analysis:

  1. It helps maximize the utilization of resources and track the required assets during the different  stages of production

  2. It makes project planning more efficient as it encourages communication and collaboration

  3. It enables project managers to determine a more definite completion date

  4. It incorporates information from multiple departments, thereby making the project planning process inclusive and comprehensive


It’s safe to say that using PERT in project management helps you stay organized. However, a PERT analysis is labor-intensive and deadline focused, and it requires continual review.

Harappa Education’s ‘Executing Solutions’ course will teach you how to proactively track work and manage deadlines. The Bifocal Approach explained in the course will enable you to monitor projects by balancing short-term and long-term goals. Navigate roadblocks efficiently and manage projects effectively with Harappa!

Explore topics such as Project Management, Project Management Process, Project Management Triple Constraint & Critical Path Method from Harappa Diaries and learn to efficiently streamline your work.

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