QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Quality Improvement Methods

34. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)

a. Definition: The Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) provides a way to manage a project's combination of tasks and the project's overall duration. It is used to plan a project, assess timeline risks and identify resource requirements. As a statistical tool, it is used along with the Critical Path Method (CPM) within Project Management (See Section 37).

PERT was initially used in military projects in the 1950s. It is a way to organize the expectations regarding the individual tasks in a project, particularly regarding the time required for each task. The most likely, pessimistic and optimistic time for each task is estimated. These are combined for all tasks in order to determine a project's expected completion time. The percentage likelihood that a project will be completed by a specific time can be calculated. If a research project, for example, has a required completion in a certain amount of time, PERT could be used to identify which tasks are critical to on time completion and which tasks should be accelerated in order to meet a specific deadline.

b. Literature:

  • Harold Kerzner (2013). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (11th ed.). Wiley. ISBN 0-471-22577-0.
  • Project Management For Dummies, Stanley E. Portny, 2013
  • Project Management Institute (2013). A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (6th ed.). Project Management Institute. ISBN 1-930699-45-X. This serves as an industry standard for Project Management and the basis for being a Certified Project Manager.

c. Example: PERT is often used in research to manage the progress and balance among competing goals of performance, resources and completion time. It deals with uncertainties even when new developments are planned and little experience exists, such as is the case with research.

Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)

d. Steps:

1) Define the overall project objectives, scope and priorities

2) Identify the individual separate tasks or activities necessary for the project.

3) Estimate range of possible times for each task as well as the dependencies regarding other tasks in the project

4) Combine into a network of tasks from the start to the end.

5) Identify the critical path (longest series of tasks) and calculate metrics such as the probability of not completing the project by a specific date.

6) Review with staff directly involved with the project and revise the plans and network map if necessary due to time or resource limitations

Computer software is widely available to assist in organizing the data and calculating the results