This guide to CPM and PERT explains how to plan, schedule, and control projects, and provides tools to facilitate the same. Both the Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and the Critical Path Method (CPM) are time tested project management techniques used for such purposes.
Defining PERT and CPM?
The Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is a method of planning and scheduling interrelated tasks in a project. It takes the shape of a chart that depicts the various events and duration of the event, and dependencies or relationships among such events, within a project. Drawing up such a PERT chart allows the project manager to determine which events should precede which, and which events can take place parallel. This allows executing the project in the quickest time, optimizing time and resources.
The Critical Path Method (CPM) is the sequence of stages that determines the minimum time required to undertake an activity. The Critical path Method in project management is modeling the project to undertake the required tasks in the best manner. A collection of well-written articles makes these concepts clear:
How to Apply PERT
A PERT chart is a network diagram consisting of project events connected by arrows, tracing the relationships and interdependencies. It is prepared at the end of the project planning phase, and before preparing the work breakdown schedule or project timelines. The PERT formula uses this chart to calculate the probable project completion time considering the best case, middle-course, and worst case scenarios.
The popularity of PERT has led to the launch of many software programs that aid preparing PERT charts. These charts, however, can just as easily be created manually or using basic applications such as MS Excel.
How to Apply Critical Path
The critical path is the sequence of project network activities which add up to the longest overall duration, for it determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. Determining the critical path requires using an algorithm that factors in a list of all activities related to the project, the duration of each activity, and dependencies between activities, to calculate the longest and the earliest paths of planned activities until project completion.
Like in the case with PERT, it is possible to calculate the critical path manually, but complex projects would require resourceful use of MS-Excel or similar applications, or any of the numerous software that aids the process.
PERT and CPM in Microsoft Project
Microsoft Project remains one of the most popular and established tools in project management. This software supports PERT and incorporates an easy to use PERT toolbar. To enable the PERT toolbar, simply go to View > Toolbars > PERT Analysis. Microsoft Project defines the critical path as a set of tasks that if delayed or started early influence the finish date of the project. It uses CPM internally to calculate the duration of projects.
This guide to PERT and CPM provides you with in-depth articles that shed light on how to make the best use of PERT and CPM in Microsoft Project. An understanding of these techniques allow project managers and executioners to optimize resources and improve productivity, contributing to both personal development and successful project execution.
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