Program Evaluation Review Technique or PERT Chart, also known as PERT diagram, is a tool used to organize, structure, and schedule project tasks for adhering to timelines and fulfilling each action item.

The timeline is represented graphically to better understand the goals from start to finish.

U.S. Navy 1950 created PERT Chart to facilitate their Polaris nuclear submarine project. Today, project managers use it to estimate the time it may take to complete a project through the pictorial representation of the tasks, where the dependencies between each are assessed and analyzed.

Why is a PERT chart necessary?

At the beginning of the project, project managers should create this chart to ensure smooth sailing from the start. It helps them avoid bottlenecks and is thus necessary to be built at the very beginning when the idea is fresh in the team’s minds.

In addition to this, the team and stakeholders can delegate and view the responsibilities. Usually, there are multiple teams involved in the making of a project. A PERT chart displays each team’s roles, thus creating a systematic workflow.

It also helps with proper inter-team and intra-team communication. A PERT chart also helps establish clear and precise timelines for the tasks. When the goals and processes are clear, the team can achieve them without significant errors.

How should you choose a PERT chart?

Teams can use the various available software to create an effective PERT chart. However, choosing the best PERT chart is necessary as it solves the efficiency issue. Before you choose your software, you need to prepare and map it out. Here are the steps you can follow to create a suitable chart.

  • Tabulate the deliverables for the project.
  • Set them chronologically from day 1 of the project to the last day.
  • Identify dependencies and record them in the chart.
  • Create a proper timeline with estimated hours/days required for each task.
  • Create the diagram.
  • Create the path of your PERT chart
  • Review and update as per the team and project progress.

Use nodes to represent your events, milestones, and arrows to direct or fork out your tasks.

Once you have a basic outline of what you plan to achieve, the software can take it from there. Since you have set your expectations, you can do your research on the PERT chart generators. Although you can manually create your charts, many websites give you the liberty to choose from templates, and you can acquire the most suited one and begin your work in no time.

Here is a list of some of the best PERT chart solutions available for you to try.

Adobe Express

Adobe helps you create a PERT chart by allowing you to choose an option from its pre-existing templates gallery and customize it per your needs.

You can also view PERT chart examples on their website to draw inspiration. These options serve as an inspiration for your work and save your time when you are on strict deadlines.

Using Adobe:

  • Search from thousands of templates designed by professionals.
  • Filter your search as per your preferred platform, aesthetic, etc.
  • Alter the template by recreating the design or changing the chart’s color, tonality, or imagery.
  • Add animation or GIFs to make your chart more interesting. You can choose not to add these and place imagery to represent your tasks better.
  • You can resize the chart per your needs and your team’s platform.
  • The end product can be shared or downloaded in the required format.

Create your first PERT chart today!

Visme

Visme makes creating and editing PERT charts of all kinds easy on its website. Like Adobe, Visme allows you to create your design from existing templates. 

The software allows you to add shapes, create designs, recreate them, and edit sizes on their platform. You can move the nodes around and create a structure at your convenience. It also allows you to connect or disconnect lines and direct them to the other nodes.

Depending on your PERT chart outline, you can customize the flow. It lets you alter designs, shapes, lines, and text while creating your chart.

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Using Visme:

  • Choose a template to recreate.
  • From the Data tab, choose the PERT chart icon and start generating shapes.
  • Choose the sizes of the shapes and arrows and adjust them accordingly.
  • Move the shapes according to the structure and flow in your mind or experiment as you work on it.
  • Download as PDF or an image file or share with others.

Visme also gives you the option to embed your design on a webpage.

Lucidchart

Lucidchart, a PERT chart generator software quite popular among project managers, helps you visualize and structure your project. This software can help you plan and conceptualize your entire project and communicate your ideas with the team. 

It gives you multiple templates to choose from and structure your ideas. It also allows you to start from scratch. Many shapes and chart flows are available, which you can drag and drop on your blank canvas. The tools available in Lucidchart enable you to apply formulas to calculate timelines. 

Lucidchart allows you to be on the same page as your team. You can share your PERT chart on any platform, and your team can view it effortlessly.

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Using Lucidchart:

  • Sign up on the website and create your dashboard.
  • Create an outline of your milestones and start making nodes on your canvas.
  • Use arrows to represent the activities in your chart.
  • Specify the timelines for each action using custom data or link your spreadsheet.
  • Finalize your work and share it with your team and stakeholders.

Lucidchart gives you the option to avail a free trial for seven days. After that, the platform will notify you once your trial is over.

Creately

Creately is another collaborative, visual platform that helps you schedule, organize and map project tasks conveniently and quickly. It can also keep track of dependencies and ‘what-ifs.’ 

Real-time collaboration becomes easy with Creately since tools like real-time cursors for any number of users help keep every team member in sync. It offers customizable templates for planning and tracking tasks, professional diagramming tools, and controls to create Gantt charts, timelines, workflows, work breakdown structures, etc. The Infinite Canvas on Creately comes in handy as it helps collect and centralize all project-related information in one space. 

The software allows for multiple app integrations, video conferencing within the platform, and comment threads that make working together as a team incredibly easy. Creately makes managing task progress effortless, but you can also seamlessly convert your PERT charts to workflows, Kanban boards, and roadmaps for further work.

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Using Creately:

  • Open a Creately workspace, and add your team as collaborators.
  • Use tools like a mind map or post-it notes to mark project milestones and break them down into individual tasks.
  • Set the sequence of the tasks, define dependencies, and connect identified tasks to create a PERT chart. You can start the chart from scratch or use a premade template.
  • Estimate the overall project time frame, calculate the estimated time per task, and generate an average project timeline using the CPM method and the PERT formula.

Creately offers free signup for its users.

SmartDraw

SmartDraw is a PERT chart generator that offers intelligent formatting and multiple device access. It does most of the drawing for you, automatically building your PERT chart through simple commands. The software makes your chart visually appealing, realigning each element as you edit tasks and dates. The chart templates on the platform are professionally designed and customizable.

The accessibility of your PERT chart is increased manifold through SmartDraw, as it offers a variety of standard graphics formats to share it in, such as a PDF or PNG, and allows you to export your chart to any Office or Google Workspace application. 

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SmartDraw is easy; visit the website and begin working on your chart. You can buy a subscription to access more features of the platform.

EdrawMax

EdrawMax is an online PERT chart maker that helps you visualize your project better and evaluate time and resources for your team. It allows you to create transparency in project progress and control, helps assign tasks to the right team member, identifies potential hurdles within the project, and understands the project’s completion time and budget.

With EdrawMax, you can get started immediately using predesigned templates. The online platform offers PERT chart-building tools and illustrative symbols that make your chart convenient to generate and easy to use.  

EdrawMax uses the highest SSL encryption level to safeguard your project information and keeps your data secure from third-party platforms. It also allows easy sharing via email or social media. The intuitive interface and professionally curated color palette help you create your PERT chart in a way that supports visualization and clarifies your vision for your project.

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Using EdrawMax:

  • List the milestones of your project. Add notes and arrows, as required.
  • Connect the designated landmarks and specify the estimated project time.
  • Choose an EdrawMax template or a blank canvas for your PERT chart and share it with your colleagues. 

Cacoo

Cacoo helps you collaborate with your team in real-time on defining tasks and time estimates to keep your project progressing smoothly. It makes managing your projects easier and saves time and resources by setting a vision.

The platform offers an extensive collection of PERT chart templates and shapes to help you clearly illustrate task dependencies, schedule and communicate timelines and tasks, and effectively allocate resources.

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You can start using Cacoo with a 14-day free trial and use its exceptional features to make your project management effortless.

Miro

Miro customizes your experience with the countless templates available on its website. The software has an easy set-up that allows you to start without much effort. Choose what you like and get started. 

With Miro, you must follow the basic PERT chart creation steps. The website allows you the flexibility to create boards and share them with the team by logging in to the website.

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Miro’s free version gives you three boards that can be edited, their entire template repository, and board access to all your team members.

Grantt Chart Vs. PERT Chart

A PERT chart is a distinguished tool that helps you overcome issues in your project. It is similar to a Gantt chart; however, the two are different in their approach and visual representation.

How are PERT charts different from Gantt charts?

Essentially, both charts help you with the same issue — structuring your project to track progress and follow timelines. Both ensure the team is on the same page while carrying out a project. 

The significant difference between these tools is their visual representation. A PERT chart is a flow chart created as a diagram that includes nodes and arrows to represent tasks. On the other hand, the Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart illustrating tasks and timelines on one sheet. 

Let’s explore other differences between a PERT and a Gantt chart.

  • A PERT chart displays the critical path, whereas a Gantt chart displays the phases of a project.
  • While a PERT chart elaborates on the timelines once the tasks have been defined, a Gantt chart focuses on tracking the status and revising the tasks later. It also allows the team to divide tasks into smaller segments during the project.
  • Initially, the Gantt chart did not have dependencies. They are part of the newer versions. At the same time, dependencies are a crucial element of a PERT chart.
  • Another significant difference is that a PERT chart is created in the planning stages, where the team sits together to discuss the project. A Gantt chart is used when the project is being executed.

Apart from these, the differences lie in both charts’ structure and visuals. 

Takeaway

It is easier to prepare a PERT chart using the software mentioned above. Whether you prefer to create the diagram from the beginning or want to go through the existing work of other managers, the software will assist you through it all.

The priority is to establish the tasks and define activities beforehand, with the help of the teams involved, so that you do not have to make significant alterations to your work as you progress.