PERT (Program, or Project, Evaluation and Review Technique) and CPM (Critical Path Method) are specialised project management techniques and scheduling tools that allow managers to plan, manage and control complex tasks and projects. They are jointly referred to as network analysis, networking programming models, and critical path analysis (CPA) techniques, and although they are fundamentally different in their unique characteristics, they are usually used in conjunction with each other. PERT and CPM are used in various industries to effectively plan, organise and monitor project-management related activities.
Breakdown Projects into Component Tasks
PERT charts are management tools that facilitate effective decision making. They are diagrams that represent the flow of activities through a process, highlight all dependent tasks and events, display the sequence of events from the start of a project to its termination, and highlight the critical path of a project. Activities are represented by boxes, and links between different activities are represented by arrows. A CPM network diagram is activity-oriented, showing the sequence of activities in terms of cost and time. PERT and CPM define projects by specifying their component tasks and activities. A PERT/CPM chart clearly shows relationships and dependencies between different tasks of an activity.
Forecast and Analyze Possibilities
PERT and CPM are effective forecasting tools and can predict future elements of a process or project. They allow managers to probe and analyse all possibilities, pitfalls, ambiguities and uncertainties. They are used to determine and avoid surprises and minimise wastage. Project managers comprehensively analyse all factors that affect a project and its successful completion in advance, plotting that data clearly in the form of a diagram.
Focused and Disciplined
PERT and CPM allow managers to focus on critical tasks (those tasks that are essential for the successful completion of a unit, event or task) in order to speed them up. This focus also makes it easier for managers to allocate resources accurately and ensure that they are used effectively.
PERT and CPM charts facilitate logical structure and discipline in planning, scheduling and monitoring tasks, encouraging detailed and long-ranging project planning.
PERT and CPM charts and networks improve intra-organizational communication. They graphically represent task and activity relationships between individuals and departments, making it easier to determine individual roles in the completion of a task. PERT and CPM bring together disparate and separate units within an organisation, aligning their roles and responsibilities to achieve a common organizational goal. This fosters better working relationships and cohesiveness between various factions.