The world we live in today is experiencing tremendous growth and rapid development; organizations are experiencing more competition now more than an ever and a project manager who wants to stand out would have to utilize all resources at his disposal to deliver quality results at a faster rate.

To do that he will need to be at the top of his game to efficiently coordinate the activities that will result in the successful execution of his project. He will need to be up to date on the tools and techniques that will aid in his delivery and one of such methods is PERT.

What is PERT in Project Management?

PERT is an acronym that stands for Project Evaluation Review Technique. PERT in project management refers to a technique that is used to estimate the accurate time it would take to complete a given activity.

Prior to the commencement of any project, it is important that the project team have an idea of how long it would take to execute the project. This is essential because it makes sure that the project manager knows exactly how long it would take to get the project completed and so can factor that in when deciding on a budget for the project.

The Program Evaluation and Review Technique is a system that aids the scheduling and coordination of tasks during a project. It was developed in the 1950s by the U.S Navy during the development of a submarine missile program by the Navy’s Special Projects Office.

A similar statistical method for forecasting progress in project management is the Critical Path Method (CPM).  This was developed for project management personnel in the private sector.

The PERT Technique

The Pert Technique is a statistical way of representing project milestones as a network diagram. It predicts project completion times putting into consideration, the risk of uncertainty.  It allows the project manager who is often responsible for scheduling, and coordinating a series of complex tasks and activities, the ability to monitor the progress of a project.

The PERT Technique is depicted in a flowchart, where the events are represented as nodes. The nodes can either indicate the beginning or the end of activities. The directional lines represent the tasks that are to be carried out while the arrows represent the sequencing of the activities. The network diagram always features a single start node and a single finish node.

In simple terms, it depicts the time taken by each element of the project and the total time estimated for its completion, thereby revealing slack periods as the project progresses.

The method takes into consideration these three factors;

  1.      The most optimistic time (O) – This is in relation to a situation where everything is expected to go right.
  2.      The most pessimistic time (P) – This takes into consideration a situation where everything goes wrong.
  3.      The most probable time (M) – This considers a situation where everything takes place as expected.

The first step to calculating the expected project duration would be to calculate the expected time for each activity.

NB: On the network diagram, it is possible to have more than one starting point.

The formula for weighted average is given as:

E = (O + 4M + P)/6

To calculate the standard deviation, it’s a simple matter of deducting the pessimistic value from the optimistic value. The subsequent result is then divided by 6.

The formula is given as:

S.D. = (E – O)/6

In Summary

The PERT technique is always used alongside the Critical Path Method when estimating project duration and calculating variances. For computing a wider range of complex activities,computers are employed for the analysis of project networks.

The Program Evaluation and Review Technique is advantageous to project managers as it not only helps them stay organized but helps them identify critical components of the project, estimates the project duration and helps identify slack times; giving the project manager a clear picture of where the project is at any given time.