PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique) chart is a project planning tool that helps schedule, organize and coordinate interrelated tasks and activities within a project. Such a chart presents a graphic illustration of project work as a precedence diagram that consists of milestones (numbered activity nodes shown as either circles or rectangles) and tasks (measurable activities displayed as directional lines).
The advantage of using PERT chart in managing project task dependencies is that this tool provides a big-picture view of project work so that it becomes easier for project managers to define the earliest possible completion date through setting global sequences between serial (dependent) tasks and related milestones. Activity nodes used in the chart that helps determine event (time-based) dependencies between tasks and identify logical relationships between task results.
The following guidelines explain how to use PERT chart in managing project task dependencies:
- Break down a project into steps that ensure project completion
- Divide every step into a series of tasks and smaller activities that involve simple actions
- Identify the very first task (predecessor) among all tasks of the project
- Check if there are any other tasks that can be started simultaneously with the first task
- Identify next tasks (successors) that come after the first task(s)
- Continue this decomposition until all tasks are sequenced (all predecessor and successors are defined)
- Develop PERT chart that depict task decomposition
- Use nodes in the chart to visualize dependencies
- Use milestones in the chart to monitor status of serial tasks
- Mark parallel tasks with special labels to distinguish then from serial tasks
- Review all nodes available in the chart and identify the shortest sequence of tasks that cause the earliest possible completion date of the project
- Review event dependencies to identify logical relationships between tasks that belong to the shortest sequence
- Add a vertical line to the chart to represent report date
- Use the network of task dependencies in designing simple to-do lists.