Practical Application: Using PERT Analysis & Project Completion

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

As project leaders begin projecting the various time elements associated with a project, they must consider the different kinds of project time. Here, you'll have the opportunity to apply a variety of skills relating to project time analysis and projection.

When Time Isn't Universal

Time is time, right? Usually this is true, but in the context of project management, time can be a bit more complicated than that. Time is one of many resources that a project manager must carefully consider during both the planning and executing of a project. If you need to review the different kinds of project times, you can visit the lesson, PERT Analysis & Project Completion, or you can reference the table below.

Type of Time Abbreviation Definition
Optimistic time O The ''best case scenario'' for task completion time
Pessimistic time P The ''worst case scenario'' for task completion time
Most likely time M The projected completion time, provided there are no unforeseen problems or delays
Expected time TE The projected completion time with a buffer in place to resolve an average number of problems

The PERT Analysis

By now you've most likely mastered the different types of project time and are just about ready to start working through a scenario. But before jumping into it, it's important to remember that project managers can't be arbitrary about their time projections. That's where the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) comes in.

The PERT calls for project leadership to assign each of the four kinds of time to a task. Those time projections are then fed into a formula for mathematical analysis, the product of which is then used to make highly accurate time estimations. Now, we'll review the scenario and walk you through a PERT using the project time formula.

Scenario: Library Recovery Project

Put yourself in the role of a project manager who has been contracted to help a public library recover from a disaster. The public library suffered an arson fire in the middle of the night. Given the effects of the smoke, fire, and water, the library was severely damaged. Because the library had a state-of-the-art electronic book retrieval robot, the recovery project was going to be a lot more complicated than usual.

Steps to Follow

1) Create the Task List

What kinds of tasks are going to make up the overall recovery project? Go ahead and make that list now. Then compare it to the one below to see if the results are similar.

Steps Task
1 De-water the carpet, attic, ceiling, and furniture.
2 Recover all undamaged books and store them off-site.
3 Recover the damaged books and remove them to a temporary holding facility.
4 Subcontract the restoration of valuable damaged books.
5 Subcontract the disposal of damaged materials, including books, furniture, and other items.
6 Subcontract the replacement of the automatic book retrieval robot.
7 Replace all damaged interior furnishings and equipment.
8 Conduct a final inspection.
9 Return the books to the library shelves.
10 Complete any last-minute tasks, and hold a grand re-opening ceremony.
11 Hold an after-action review.

2) Estimate Project Times

Using the task list you made, what were your estimates for each task? As before, your projections may differ from the ones below. Just make sure that your format is similar. As long as your projections include enough information to calculate the project time, you'll be fine. (All times are in person-hours.)

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