PERT Chart Practice for Complex Projects

It should be two probable reasons why you’ve decided to read this article:

  1. You want to manage a project that should be completed by a certain deadline.
  2. You are looking for the definition of the acronym PERT and, consequently, PERT chart definition.

Actually, you’re in the right place!

Here we’d like to share some basic information and management benefits of Program Evaluation Review Technique. After a brief PERT definition and PERT chart definition section, we’ll give some examples and tips on how to create PERT charts.

What is Program Evaluation Review Technique? PERT Chart definition

A PERT chart is a project management multipurpose tool that allows getting a graphical representation of a project timeline.

PERT is Program Evaluation Review Technique that helps to define and analyze tasks and objectives. Many efficient companies worldwide use this time management technique together with MoSCoW method and Work Breakdown Structure examples to accelerate and improve their business processes.

A PERT diagram formula was described in 1958 for the US Navy’s projects. They wanted to find a simple system to manage and organize complex objectives.

These diagrams consist of circles or rectangles (nodes) that represent key milestones within a project. Lines or vectors that represent different tasks connect the nodes. We have recently written about the similar structure to describe what is the critical path method.

PERT charts for project management

When an arrow is drawn from task A to task B, it means that task A must be completed before task B. You can create parallel tasks that can be located at the same stage of production but on different task lines. They are not dependent on one another.

PERT Charts structure and elements

PERT program evaluation and review technique elements

The diagram represents events that must be implemented within a project’s lifetime.

  • Arrows show directions and indicate flows of events that need to occur.
  • Dotted lines represent dummy activities, which are items located on another path.
  • Numbers assigned to each task regulate them. They are located inside each vector.

PERT analysis

In PERT analysis, there are three estimate points. They include optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely or expected estimates. The first one means it is unlikely that a task can take a shorter period. The second one means that it is unlikely that a task can take a longer period. The third one in PERT analysis shows what we actually expect from a task.

How to create a PERT chart or Program Evaluation and Review Technique diagram:

Move PERT from the template. Click to change the Early Start, Late Start, Duration, Slack, etc.

Usually, the diagram contains a horizontal timeline with appropriate units (days or weeks). Another type of diagrams shows time as a number above the arrow.

How to create a PERT Chart, GanttPRO review

Consistent steps to create a PERT diagram

  • List the levels and steps in a project, define the time required to complete each event.
  • Add dependencies to create relationships between events.
  • Lines show the time that each event takes. They should begin and end above the point on the timeline.
  • Each line in your diagram should come to a step that’s dependent on the completion of the event that the line comes from.

This diagram also demonstrates the critical path with task sequences that need to be managed carefully to finish all objectives on time.

Simple Program Evaluation and Review Technique PERT сhart templates and examples

To understand how it works, as an example, you can choose any Program Evaluation Review Technique diagram template. For example – a template, created by Edraw Max software:

Tools to create PERT charts

This PERT chart example allows you to create nice charts using its built-in symbol elements. This template consists of a legend, two task shapes, connectors and a summary.

Here’s an example of how Program Evaluation Review Technique can be illustrated:

PERT diagram examples and templates

Here is one more example: How to plant an orchard with the diagram.

A simple example of PERT Chart

3 great PERT сharts generators and software tools for project managers

1. SmartDraw is the smartest way to draw anything

SmartDraw makes it easy to create such charts.

In this PERT chart maker, you can find the full set of features and design options to implement in your tasks. It works on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS and allows using dozens of PERT charts templates for common tasks. You can choose the example that is most similar to your project and customize it.

SmartDraw tools to create PERT charts

2. Lucidchart is a flowchart maker & online diagram software

Lucidchart is also available on Mac or PC. This PERT chart maker proposes unlimited customization choices and powerful sharing abilities. You can use Lucidchart’s extensive PERT chart tutorial and library to create Program Evaluation and Review Techniques diagrams.

Lucidchart tools to create PERT charts3. Edraw Max is all-in-one cross-platform diagram software

It’s also easy to create a professional PERT with Edraw Max software.

This PERT chart maker proposes to create online diagrams for tasks, timetables, critical path method, work breakdown structures, life cycles and different schedules.

Edraw tools to create PERT charts

Project PERT сharts: pros and cons

PERT charts’ advantages are evident, but managers should also pay attention to some drawbacks that can be an obstacle for the project realization.

PERT сharts benefits for project managers:

  • Using the charts, project managers can evaluate and analyze time and resources required for a project.
  • The ability to track and manage assets needed during any production stage.
  • Diagram analysis contains data and information from different departments. It optimizes communication during the project’s course, defines responsible parties across the organization and encourages responsibility.
  • Program Evaluation Review Technique charts help project managers to perform “what-if” analysis. This kind of analysis identifies possibilities and uncertain points related to activities and helps to minimize surprises and waste. “What-if” also highlights all activities with a risk that require careful analyzing and monitoring during the project.

Some PERT Сhart project management disadvantages:

  • PERT technique requires the activities arrangement in time sequence. The analysis process is subjective in nature, that’s why these charts can not accurately estimate cost and time.
  • The method determines labor and material equipment requirements for some project activities. However, PERT is primarily a time-focused method.
  • The method requires a detailed research and study of the comments from many people and project activities.
  • Program Evaluation Review Technique is quite expensive to support because of the labor-intensive nature of the method.

Differences between Pert Charts and Gantt Charts

Schedules and diagrams, as well as special software, are only tools that assist you to manage your projects better. But you should always keep them up to date and they will help you to achieve results.

Gantt charts and PERT diagrams are both useful for visualizing tasks and objectives. Both structures can be created with the help of software applications. It’s up to you to make a choice and define.

The way the information is demonstrated is one of the main distinctive features between online PERT charts and Gantt diagrams.

Gantt сharts demonstrate information in a bar-chart format. It helps to show the percentage of work completed for each task. Information in PERT is displayed as a network model. It’s up to you what to choose.

GanttPRO Software

It’s crucial for project managers to break down the tasks to make sure that the project will be finished by the deadline. The key focus of Gantt сharts is about the percentage completion of each task. Program Evaluation and Review Technique typically does not show the percentage completed. In this comparison, Gantt diagrams look more convincing.

In addition, Gantt charts are good for projects with few interlinking tasks.

Gantt chart software GanttPRO


Summarizing all mentioned above, a PERT chart can be an effective tool in tasks management.

It may be helpful for implementing “what if” scenarios and can be useful in planning for possible obstacles.

If you can share your experience about how to make Pert сhart, or if you have any questions, feel free to let us know.

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