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The PERT Formula and Its Benefits

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 8/14/2009

This article explores the benefits of using the PERT Formula.

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    Picture courtesy of Stock.xchng Using the PERT formula in project management can be a great benefit to project managers who are overwhelmed with the process of estimating duration or cost in a project. The following is a list of potential benefits of using PERT as an estimation tool.

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    1. The PERT Formula Can Give the Estimated Completion Date

    By using the PERT Formula combined with bottom-up estimating in project management, a savvy project manager can then determine the estimated completion date for a project. The way this date is calculated is by adding up the cumulative task durations that have been estimated utilizing the PERT Formula or other estimation methods. For more information on how this process works using Microsoft Project 2007, see Deanna's series, "Project 2007: Estimating Task Durations Using the PERT Formula."

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    2. In the Case Where a Client Wants a Specific Completion Date...

    ...the PERT Formula can help determine what chance the project has of being completed by that date. If the date lies within the standard deviation of the formula, there is a better chance of completion by that date the closer the date is to the pessimistic estimated date, and a smaller probability for completion if the requested date is closer to the optimistic estimate for completion.

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    3. The Project Manager Can Determine Flexibility

    Items with a large range between the optimistic estimate and the pessimistic estimate for completion are flexible. Because of this, if a project manager needs to crash the project schedule or fast track the project schedule, the PERT formula can help them determine which action items contain this flexibility. In this case, the PERT Formula has a distinct advantage for project managers.

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    4. The PERT Formula Helps the Project Manager Schedule Tasks

    By estimating the time it will take to complete tasks using the PERT Formula and the Standard Deviation formula, project managers can schedule start and finish times for tasks in a more accurate manner. This is a great benefit, especially in complex projects where start and finish dates might not be clear. Using the task estimation method, the project manager would schedule all tasks due to their estimated completion time, and then use the start time of the first scheduled task and the end time of the final scheduled task as the start and finish dates of the project.

PERT Formula

This series of articles introduces readers to the PERT Formula and discusses applications of PERT in project management.
  1. Introduction to the PERT Formula Series
  2. When Should You Use the PERT Formula?
  3. The PERT Formula and Its Benefits
  4. Should You Really Use the PERT Formula?
  5. What Is the Best Software for Working with the PERT Formula?