Time management is an issue for most ordinary individuals on a daily basis. As an entrepreneur running a business, it is absolutely crucial.
Most companies are running a lot of projects and tasks all at the same time—and sometimes, it’s difficult to keep track. Smaller projects are easy to manage using a simple sheet containing progress status and due dates. Larger projects; however, might benefit from the use of a PERT chart which outlines everything in detail, from start to finish by showing a hierarchy of tasks in graphical form.
The Basic of a PERT Chart
PERT is an acronym for Program Evaluation Review Technique which is a visual representation of steps for a project to efficiently finish it on time.
It’s usually the product of breaking down huge tasks, listing it according to priority, and arranging it into a chart or graph for a bird’s eye view of the whole project—making it clear and motivating to accomplish.
Above is an example of a PERT chart layout. There are a lot of styles and formats to choose from online and it doesn’t have a standard way of doing it. You can use whichever is convenient for you.
The goal is to start plotting tasks backwards from the due date to ensure that you’ll accomplish the project on time. Writing it out on paper is the best way to plot tasks and sequence of events. But if you find it comfortable to directly create it on a computer application or program, do it.
Creating a PERT Chart
A PERT chart needs the full outline of a project with a checklist and a specific timeline. Project managers are the ones in charge of overseeing progress and the people who know best to construct a PERT chart. They know the details of the project, can breakdown tasks, accurately categorize it in order of priority, assigning people responsible for each task, as well as estimate the deadlines for each milestone.
Once all the goals, tasks, people involved, etc. are laid out, a PERT chart can now be created. Depending on the size and scope of the project, it can span from simple to highly complicated. The remarkable thing about using a PERT chart is that it’s not convoluted and therefore, team members can easily see what’s next on the list.
To successfully manage your project using a PERT chart, consider the following tips:
Tip 1: Whether or not you’re the one setting the deadline, think things through carefully before mapping out the PERT chart. Pay attention to details and check if the due dates are feasible along with the workload involved.
Tip 2: When working backwards from the due date, assume the necessity for wiggle room, in case a setback occurs and rattles the project timeline—or the unexpected happens.
Tip 3: Use the Critical Path Analysis (CPA) planning tool to assist you in organizing your PERT chart. It can help you identify which tasks can be delayed, if necessary, and which ones must not fall behind.
PERT Chart Disadvantages
When a project is extremely complex, it would be difficult to break it down into workable sections. One way to solve this issue is by using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) tool. There are many similar tools which you can find online that offer free trials.
WBS tools are used to help you analyze the scope of a project, especially for a large one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how to lay out the tasks and timelines. It can; however, assist you in creating a Gantt chart.
Invented by Henry Gantt in the early 1900, a Gantt chart is used in much the same way as a PERT chart, except it lacks the detail necessary for many of today’s complex business projects. Though, it can assist in helping to map out timing before creating the PERT, which is crucial.
Using the PERT Chart
So, you’ve worked it all out and know exactly what your timeline is and what deliverables to expect all throughout the project duration. That’s well and good, but if you don’t keep it updated and record any changes, then it is worthless.
When created correctly, a PERT chart is a handy tool that will help you save a lot of hassle and time in future projects. It can also double productivity, as long as people aim for the same goal and are directed to what needs to be done and when it should be accomplished. Furthermore, it is also a great morale builder as everyone can see right before their eyes how things are getting done.
It’s a bit tricky to use a PERT chart at first, especially when you’re in the planning stages. As the process moves along, the project will all come into focus more than you think and deadlines are not difficult to hit anymore.
The essential ingredient to any project is time management, so if you take the time to think it out and construct a useful PERT chart, your projects are sure to run more smoothly. That is the dream of any business owner or project manager—a smooth sailing operation.
Also, make it a priority to keep the PERT up-to-date for any changes in between milestones and tasks. Soliciting suggestions from teammates in terms of the scope and workload as their input are valuable to your project or business’ success.