A project management and scheduling technique called the Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is used to evaluate and describe the tasks necessary to complete a project. The American Department of Defence first created it in the late 1950s to handle complicated projects, particularly those pertaining to aerospace and defence.
PERT is built on a network paradigm where project activities are represented as nodes and dependencies between activities are represented as directed arrows (also known as edges). Estimating the project’s duration and locating the critical path—the longest sequence of dependent operations that defines the project’s overall duration—are the main objectives of PERT. Any delays in the jobs on the critical route will directly affect how quickly the project is completed, so these activities must be continuously watched.
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Key components of the PERT technique include:
- Activities: A node in the network diagram represents each task or activity in the project. Usually, rectangles or circles are used to represent these actions.
- Dependencies: Directed arrows linking the nodes represent the relationships between the activities. These arrows represent the flow and hierarchy of the work, indicating which tasks must be finished before others can begin.
- Duration Estimates: Three time estimates—optimistic (O), most likely (M), and pessimistic (P)—are given to each action. These estimations aid in assessing an activity’s anticipated duration while accounting for uncertainties and possible deviations.
- Critical Path: When the projected durations and interdependence of the activities are taken into consideration, the critical path is the longest path through the network. The critical route activities have no slack or float, therefore any delay in these tasks will have a direct impact on the project’s overall schedule.
- Float/Slack: Float is the amount of time an activity can be postponed without having an effect on when the project will be finished. Critical path activities have zero float, but non-critical path activities have float.
- PERT Analysis: Based on the estimations and dependencies of the activities, PERT employs a mathematical technique to determine the anticipated time of the overall project. It aids in resource allocation efficiency and the identification of possible bottlenecks for project managers.
PERT is especially helpful for projects with high levels of unpredictability and intricate task interdependence. It enables project managers to evaluate project risks, improve scheduling choices, and efficiently deploy resources to fulfil project deadlines. While PERT has been widely utilised in the past, contemporary project management methodologies and tools like the Critical Path Method (CPM) and different project management software have gained popularity recently. For certain project types, nevertheless, where there is a lot of uncertainty and fluctuation, PERT is still useful.