What is a PERT chart template?
A PERT chart stands for Project Evaluation and Review Technique chart. Such charts display the scheduled tasks for completion of a larger project. PERT charts are commonly used by project managers and they form an integral part of the path to be taken for carrying out essential tasks for project completion.
PERT charts are made by project managers for certain parts and modules of a larger and complex project. Each PERT chart starts with a single node which branches out into several activities emphasizing on the relationship between a number of tasks.
PERT was originally designed as a scheduling method to plan a manufacturing project. It employed a network of activities interrelated to each other and coordinated the optimum cost and time of the project.
PERT charts created in MS Excel make use of shapes and connectors that are used in flowcharts and can be found in the “Insert” menu. Excel allows customizing each section of PERT chart with a specific color. The connectors can be inserted manually to indicate the direction of flow of the chart. The fact that shapes added to a worksheet in Excel are not bound to the cells of the spreadsheet makes it possible for you to move the shapes around until the desired chart comes about.
Here is how to create a PERT chart in MS Excel 2010:
1. Launch MS Excel.
2. Click Insert from the menu bar at the top.
3. On clicking Insert, a drop down menu with “illustrations” as subheading appears. Click on “shapes” under illustrations and select the desired shape from the subsection “flowchart”.
4. After selecting the shape from flowchart section, click on the space on the spreadsheet where you wish to insert the shape. Subsequently drag the mouse to give the shape a desired size.
5. Go to “Insert” and click on “text box” under “text” section. Click inside the shape that you just inserted from the flowchart section and drag the mouse again to get the desired size.
6. Type in the required text in the text box.
7. Carry out a similar process to insert more shapes from the “Insert” tab and then add text boxes with text to each of them.
8. Choose the type of connector arrow from the insert shapes section of the ribbon.
9. Click on the anchor shape and subsequently drag the arrow to the target shape of the arrow connector.
10. In case you need to add additional arrows to the chart, add them.
11. Add outlying text to the chart by clicking on the “Insert” tab in the menu and then on “Text Box” from the text section.
12. Select the desired location for the text box on the spreadsheet and drag mouse to get the desired shape and size of the box.
13. Type text into the box.
14. Add as many number of text boxes to the chart as required until the chart is complete.
It is wise to save the chart as a PDF file if you do not intend to use the cells in the Excel worksheet. This will eliminate the grid lines from the background of the chart and give a cleaner look to the entire document. PDF option can be selected from the “Save As” menu found in the File tab.
Advantages of PERT charts:
PERT charts have several advantages in terms of implementing a control mechanism for large projects as well as carry out performance improvement efforts. A project manager arranges the new project activity-wise in a PERT chart and estimates the time and resources required for the completion of each.
Let us have a closer look at some of the advantages of PERT charts:
1. Activity Analysis
The project manager can view details on the likelihood of the timely project completion. He can also have an assessment of the possibility of the project being finished within budget by viewing PERT activities and events. For instance a project on software implementation will require completion of several critical activities such as installation of hardware, programming, system testing and training of the end users. With the help of a PERT chart, a project manager can make a reasonably accurate estimate of the time and resources that will be needed for each of the activities mentioned here. The manager can also have a fairly reasonable idea of the total requirements from all the activities beginning from hardware installation to end user training.
2. Department Coordination
PERT charts improve planning and decision making. It does so by collating and presenting the data received from multiple departments. The fact that qualitative and quantitative data is gathered from several sources helps in coordination of project activities and improved communication between departments. PERT identifies the departments responsible for each activity and also the role every man plays in the project. When areas of responsibility become visible to all, the commitment to the activity and project as a whole increases. PERT also brings to light the activity interdependence and supplements the development of a master plan to give a comprehensive view of the operations.
3. What-if Analysis
PERT requires sequencing the activities under fixed rules that specify critical and sub critical paths. The critical path is defined as the longest sequence of events and activities in the entire project. As the name suggests, a what-if analysis identifies uncertainties and possibilities related to the project. To reduce the surprises and waste arising out of the project activities, a combination of several activities are tried to select the most useful possibility. What-if analysis also enables the project manager to highlight the activities that carry the highest risk potential and would require meticulous planning and monitoring throughout the project.
It has been concluded by management experts that PERT charts make it easy to carry out large projects efficiently. A PERT chart answers major questions about activities in a project and these answers allow the managers to identify the relationships between tasks and their dependencies. These questions include how long will the activity take till completion and what all activities must precede and succeed the activity for successful completion of the project. A PERT chart is an effective way of making such relationships visible through graphics.