Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT): Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) charts depict task, duration, and dependency information. Each chart starts with an initiation node from which the first task, or tasks, originates. If multiple tasks begin at the same time, they are all started from the node or branch, or forked out from the starting point. Each task is represented by a line which states its name or other identifier, its duration, the number of people assigned to it, and in some cases the initials of the personnel assigned. The other end of the task line is terminated by another node which identifies the start of another task, or the beginning of any slack time, that is, waiting time between tasks.
Each task is connected to its successor tasks in this manner forming a network of nodes and connecting lines. The chart is complete when all final tasks come together at the completion node. When slack time exists between the end of one task and the start of another, the usual method is to draw a broken or dotted line between the end of the first task and the start of the next dependent task.
A PERT chart may have multiple parallel or interconnecting networks of tasks. If the scheduled project has milestones, checkpoints, or review points (all of which are highly recommended in any project schedule), the PERT chart will note that all tasks up to that point terminate at the review node. It should be noted at this point that the project review, approvals, user reviews, and so forth all take time. This time should never be underestimated when drawing up the project plan. It is not unusual for a review to take 1 or 2 weeks. Obtaining management and user approvals may take even longer.
When drawing up the plan, it should also include tasks for documentation writing, documentation editing, project report writing and editing, and report reproduction.
PERT charts are usually drawn on ruled paper with the horizontal axis indicating time period divisions in days, weeks, months, and so on. Although it is possible to draw a PERT chart for an entire project, the usual practice is to break the plans into smaller, more meaningful parts. This is very helpful if the chart has to be redrawn for any reason, such as skipped or incorrectly estimated tasks.
Many PERT charts terminate at the major review points, such as at the end of the analysis. Many organizations include funding reviews in the projects life cycle. Where this is the case, each chart terminates in the funding review node.
Funding reviews can affect a project in that they may either increase funding, in which case more people have to be made available, or they may decrease funding, in which case fewer people may be available. Obviously more or less people will affect the length of time it takes to complete the project.