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What is a PERT chart?

The PERT chart was first introduced in the 1950s by the US Navy, which used it to help in the development of its Polaris submarine missile programme.

However, since then this project management tool's use has been extended to the wider business domain and is now a common utility across the private sector.

PERT stands for Programme Evaluation Review Technique and primarily helps to schedule, coordinate, track and organise tasks within an operation.

The chart itself is a graphic that contains a series of 'nodes' - depicted as circles or rectangles - that represent events or milestones expected to take place as the project is completed.

These nodes are linked together by a series of labelled lines, which indicate tasks that have to be carried out for those milestones to be reached.

Directional arrows are added to these lines to signify the sequence of the tasks, while the lines can also split to show when tasks or events can be completed simultaneously, allowing for teams to work together on different areas of the project at the same time.

PERT charts also indicate when events are dependent on each other, explaining the process that an operation must go through before it is finished.

The first step towards creating a PERT chart is to identify all the components of the project. This should involve a brainstorming session of all key people who will be involved to ensure all bases are covered when drawing the diagram out for the first time.

An alternative to the PERT chart is the Gantt chart, which some people believe to be easier to interpret, although it is not as thorough. It isn't rare for managers to use both techniques, especially on bigger projects.

If you'd like to learn more about how PERT charts can be used effectively to improve your business, book onto our corporate training courses today.

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