PERT chart template

Visualize project task or milestone dependencies with this free PERT chart template.
The U.S. Navy created the
PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique) method
. If it's good enough for a project of that level of complexity, it's good enough for your website launch.

But just because it's great for complex projects doesn't mean PERT itself has to be complicated. We created this simple PERT chart template you can use for free. Get started
or keep reading for further context, ideas, and direction.

What is a PERT chart template?
A PERT chart template is a document you can reuse whenever you need PERT for project planning. A PERT chart is a flowchart using nodes and arrows that explores and specifies project milestones and dependencies.

PERT is similar to
in that they both define the dependency relationships between tasks and milestones with an eye for the overall project duration. By estimating the time it takes to complete each task or milestone and then laying it all out in a chart, you can visualize how long a project will take and what needs to happen when for everything to stay on track. If you're interested in CPM, we also have a
as well.

The main differences between PERT and CPM are how they treat duration estimates and how you chart out the relationships between tasks and milestones.

PERT asks for three estimates (optimistic, pessimistic, and likely), while CPM asks for one. Over time (as you'll see in both our
and this PERT template), CPM and PERT blended together to the point where both types of template typically include all three estimations.

The remaining difference is how project managers visualize PERT and CPM. PERT emphasizes all milestones and the relationships between those milestones with an eye for project roadmapping, while CPM empathizes the one critical path. It's subtle,
but it matters

When you use a template for PERT planning, it does much of the work for you. Many
built in. If you don't want to shell out for project management software just yet, you can
with tools like Excel, whiteboard software like
, or a tool like Coda, which is

Create a PERT diagram in four simple steps.
If you'd like to know how to create a PERT chart (also called a PERT diagram) for yourself, you need to follow these four steps:

1. Identify project tasks and milestones.
Your milestones are the major stages within your project, while your tasks are what take you from one milestone to the other. For example, two milestones could be "Design Ideation" and "Design Approval." The tasks between these two milestones might be (1) "Package and Present Design Ideas," (2) "Iterate on Feedback," And (3) "Get Official Sign Off from Client." List all these milestones and tasks in a table.

2. Determine project dependencies.
One way to denote dependencies is to assign labels to all the tasks and milestones in your table. Your labels could be letters, numbers, or a combination of the two. Within your table, assign dependency relationships to your tasks and milestones. For instance, "Design Ideation" could have the label "B." Then, to denote that "Design Approval" is dependent on "Design Ideation," you'd put "B" in its Dependency column. If a milestone or task is dependent on multiple other tasks or milestones, you can have multiple labels in the Dependency column.

One important caveat is that there are two types of dependencies:
. A direct dependency is where one project activity cannot start until a previous activity is complete (e.g., you can't get design approval without design ideas). An indirect dependency is a project activity that can start before its previous activity finish, but it can't finish until that previous activity finishes (e.g., you can begin developing the backend structure of the web page before the design is fully approved).

If your project is simple enough, you could potentially skip straight to the diagramming step, which is next.

3. Create the PERT chart.
Now it's time to create the PERT chart itself. A traditional PERT chart is made up of nodes and arrows, where the nodes are milestones, and the arrows are tasks. Solid arrows denote a direct dependency, and dashed arrows denote indirect dependencies.

You don't need to follow this traditional method if it isn't working for you. We often see people combine their PERT chart with a
, combining the best of both. No matter what you choose, your goal is to visualize the relationships between each task and milestone.

4. Define the timeline for project activities.
Here is where the estimations come in. For each project activity, make three predictions for how long they'll take: most likely (M), optimistic (O), and pessimistic (P).

Then plug these numbers into the PERT formula:

O + (4 X M) + P)/6 = PERT Estimate

With time estimates assigned in your table, you can start to forecast how long the project will take to complete. Or, if you already know the start and end date of the project, you can identify which critical tasks to prioritize keeping on time.

👉 Get started with this PERT chart template.
Copy this template
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free PERT chart template for your projects and business.

How do you make a PERT chart using Coda's template?
Step 1: Adding a New Project
Starting with the
page, you can add a new project that your organization is taking on by clicking the
Add Project
button. In the
table you can add details for your project like
Project Name
. The
column will be automatically be filled in once milestones related to your project are added. The
Total Duration of the Project
will be calculated as new milestones are added for an Associated Project.

Step 2: Creating Milestones for your Projects
Next, you can add in milestones for your correlated projects in the
table. By clicking the
Add Milestone
button you can add in details for your milestone like
Teams Involved
Start Date
, and
End Date
. Milestones allow your organization to see prioritize certain objectives before others based on their timeline.

Once you have decided on your project’s estimated Start Date and End Date, the table will automatically return a
for the milestone that is to be completed.

When creating a milestone, it is also important to choose a
for the project. This means that the milestone that your team is currently taking on for a given project, is dependent on a specific milestone to be completed first.

For example: You can only build a wooden frame of a house once the concrete foundation is completed.

Step 3: Visual PERT Chart
In the
page, you can view a visual representation of your
and the given
. This chart gives a representation of milestones and tasks that are dependent on others as well as the duration of each of the milestones.

Extra Steps: People, Teams, Roles
To keep track of the teams and people that are a part of you organization you can visit the
page where there are tables to define
and assign each person that is in your organization to a team and role.

PERT chart template FAQs.
What is the difference between the PERT chart vs. Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that compares different tasks and milestones over time. A PERT chart is a flowchart that uses nodes and arrows to visualize the dependencies between various project activities.
Both are effective project management visualizations, and you can even combine them into one chart to get the best of both.

What is an example of a PERT chart?
Here is an example of a PERT chart based on our PERT diagram template:
Launch Monetization Ecosystem
Launch Alpha version
Fix major bugs
Release alpha version of product
Identify bugs and major system issues for mobile version
Launch Product
Fix major bug fixes on mobile app
Identify Bugs
Implement new system to fix bug
Launch new release
Board Meeting
Finalize Speakers
Aug 30
Sep 13
Sep 27
Oct 11
Oct 25
Launch Alpha version
Fix major bugs
Identify bugs and major system issues for mobile version
Launch Product
Identify Bugs
Implement new system to fix bug
Launch new release
Finalize Speakers

What is a PERT chart used for?
A PERT chart is used to determine the amount of time a complex project will take and the dependencies among the project's activities that most contribute to that length. The goal is to identify workflow bottlenecks that have the potential to derail the project timeline.

A good PERT chart should help a project manager:
Determine project length.
Understand dependencies among project activities.
Foresee and get ahead of process bottlenecks.
Communicate the project timeline clearly to all stakeholders
Keep the project on schedule and in scope.

Who created PERT?
The U.S. Navy created PERT in 1958 to manage the production of nuclear submarines. It has since grown into an entire project management specialization, with many project managers combining it with the Gantt charts, the critical path method, and other project planning tools.

What does PERT stand for?
PERT stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique.

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