My Project Management Expert

What is PERT?

PERT is also known as the Program (or Project) Evaluation and Review Technique. For those who wish to know what is PERT, it is a project management model which basically works towards analysis and representation of the tasks that are a part of any given project. More specifically, PERT looks into analyzing the different tasks which are included in a project in order to estimate the time frames needed to complete each one. This in turn enables a project manager to determine the minimum time requirements for the entire project management life cycle to be completed.

As a result PERT tends to be heavily used in large-scale, one-time infrastructure and Research and Development projects where the time factor holds greater relevance than the inherent costs; and proves to be a valuable tool to reduce the redundancy in projects which involve multi-tasking.

Tip

The PERT model incorporates uncertainties as well and therefore it would be beneficial if applying it for scheduling a project, where the exact details and durations of whose activities are not known.

1.0 Basic Terminology Used In PERT

Some extremely specific terms are utilized in PERT, and these must be understood in order to effectively utilize this methodology. These include:

1.1 PERT Event

This is a point at which one or more activities find initiation or completion. It is said to be ‘reached’ when all the activities that mark an event’s completion are finished upon.

1.2 Predecessor Event

This refers to an event that immediately precedes another without any other events as breaks amongst them.

1.3 Successor Event

This is an event which immediately follows another event without any intermittency.

1.4 PERT Activity

This is the act of actually performing a task and involves time, resources and effort put in into each individual event.

1.5 Critical Path

This is the longest possible pathway from the initial to the final event.

1.6 Fast Tracking

This refers to carrying out critical activities simultaneously.

1.7 Crashing Critical Path

This denotes cutting out on the duration of critical activities.

Knowledge of several time references like the ones listed below also aid in understanding ‘what is PERT’ better:

1.8 Optimistic Time

This is the minimum time requirement for a task completion.

1.9 Pessimistic Time

This is the maximum time to which a task completion could stretch to in the worst scenario.

1.10 Most Likely Time

This is the estimated time required for a task’s completion, if everything goes as planned.

1.11 Expected Time

This is the average time required for a task’s completion in case it needs to be repeated at several occasions in the course of project.

1.12 Slack or Float

This is generally referred to is the time frame in which a task can be completed without any delays.

1.13 Lag Time

This is the minimal time in which one even can be shifted from to the next.

1.14 Tip

An important aspect in understanding what is PERT, is that the model involves arrangement of activities in a logical sequence which must be strictly adhered to. So an activity listed first in the PERT planner must be completed before proceeding onto the next.

2.0 Advantages of PERT’s Introduction

One you are acquainted with what is PERT; it would make sense to know how the model actually helps in project management. Take a look at how it proves advantageous:
  • It brings to fore the dependencies between the WBS elements.
  • It helps in identification of the critical path, early start, late start and slack for all activities.
  • Understanding of dependencies facilitated by PERT help in improving the overlapping patterns for tasks and activities so as to progress better.

3.0 Advantages of PERT’s Introduction

An understanding of what is PERT would be incomplete without the mention of the inherent disadvantages of appropriating the model. Some common disadvantages that have been reported so far are:
  • Large PERT charts pose printing and documentation problems
  • Absence of the mention of exact timeframes on these charts (colors denote completed activities) prove mnd boggling.

I am sure the question of what is PERT would have been aptly resolved by now. The following bonus tip could however be of added help.

What is PERT? - Tip

Whilst PERT is a largely successful model; its appropriation in real life has to involve proactive scheduling, wherein an adequate contingency approach in the baseline schedule is included. Otherwise the project would not execute as planned because of project risks such as human errors, unexpected events or some other similar unplanned situations.

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