Advantages and Disadvatages of Using the Program Evaluation and Review Technique to Plan Projects

Are you planning a small to moderate size project? If you are, you must already know how tough it can get at times. Using the Program Evaluation and Review Technique, also called PERT, you can plan small to mid-size products quite easily most of the time.

However, keeping in mind that one must always look before they leap, let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using this technique for project planning. But before we do that, we need to understand what the Program Evaluation and Review Technique actually is.

PERT, in simple words, is project planning simplified. It is a fairly simple and straightforward method to analyze the involved tasks in completing a given project which also allows a project manager to identify the minimum amount of time required to complete a project by establishing which tasks are dependent upon one another, which can be carried out in parallel without any significant risk to the project. This planning technique is especially useful when funding is not a major issue and where time to completion is the biggest factor that success by which the success of the project will be measured.

Advantages Of The Program Evaluation And Review Technique

So, what are the advantages of using this technique? First off, as aforementioned, PERT makes planning much easier. The PERT chart comes in handy when identifying relationships between tasks and task dependencies thus answering some major questions regarding the time required to complete each task and which task should precede or follow that particular task.

Also, there is another related aspect of this type of planning called the Critical Path in the Program Evaluation and Review Technique. This term refers to the longest possible continuous pathway taken from the initial event to the terminal event. Since the Critical Path determines how much time it is going to take to complete the entire project, it helps managers in decision making. Sometimes, if there are delays to be made in some tasks, the Critical Path helps him decide how the task can be delayed without affecting the project completion time. This is another advantage of PERT.

For projects in which time matters the most, this technique can help reduce the project duration by helping the planners better understand the activities and their dependencies which in turn can potentially be made into overlapping tasks. In the long run, the power of the PERT is the chart which contains project data and serves as a vital tool for decision making.

Disadvantages Of The Program Evaluation And Review Technique

Despite all of the advantages already mentioned, there are some major downsides to this brilliant method of project planning. To begin with, the charts tend to be quite complex as the size of the project increases. In fact in certain situations it wouldn’t be uncommon to end up with thousands of activities and so many dependencies that someone brand new to project planning could become quickly confused and overwhelmed. On top of that, developing, maintaining and updating this chart can be expensive and difficult all at the same time. And sometimes the PERT chart can even extend to multiple pages with a number of sub tasks thus making it all the more complex.

The second point against using this technique for project planning would be the prediction inaccuracies it can lead to at times.  Unless someone with significant experience is planning the prjoect using this technique, many of the predictions can go horribly wrong thus interfering with the entire time required to complete the project. The estimation can go wrong due to human error or unforeseen risks and unfortunate events.

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Comments

  1. Great Article. I agree PERT is a great tool for learning project management, as well as, working with small to medium size projects or small pieces of a large project. However, like you stated for large projects it would be very complex and near impossible to take the full project out using a pert chart and most likely not gain a lot of value vs the time spent.

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