Happy Monday and Welcome to this week’s installment of Kelly’s Contemplation. As you know, I strive to have a balance of posts on the emotional & technical aspects of leadership & project management. This week, I am going to focus on a more technical aspect of project manager…developing the project schedule, specifically identify durations.
I was recently speaking with some colleagues with regards to project overruns (costs and schedule) and found out that most don’t get into a PERT analysis when developing their schedules. For the most part, they ask the SME (subject matter expert) how long they need to complete a task or series of tasks and then add a day/week and move on. Some will ask what are the risks to getting to the deadline and help mitigate those risks, but few mentioned they go through the best, most likely, pessimistic with their teams.
PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) takes a slightly skeptical view of time estimates made for each project stage. To use it, estimate the shortest possible time each activity will take, the most likely length of time, and the longest time that might be taken if the activity takes longer than expected.
Use the formula below to calculate the time to use for each project stage:
Optimistic + (4 x Most Likely) + Pessimistic/6 = Duration
How many of you leverage this tool/technique when creating your project plan? If not, is it because your team wouldn’t spend the time giving the inputs? Do you feel the technique lacks value?
Below is a series of steps with a slide show and gallery (however you prefer to view) how to leverage MS Project for a PERT analysis. The last screen shot on the slide show is an Excel Template I setup for a friend that has zero budget for a PM tool. (still very useful)
- Create Your WBS
- Enable the PERT Toolbar
- Click on “PERT Entry Sheet”
- Enter the Optimistic, Expect, and Pessimistic Durations
- Click “Calculate PERT” and then say OK
- The durations will populate …
- Go back to the Gantt View, by clink View & selecting Gantt Chart
- Now you can work from a more confident standpoint with regards to your schedule..
- No Budget for tools, leverage a basic MS Excel Template to implement a PERT analysis.
For some this will be basic and others use some other techniques, but for some this may be brand new to you and I hope you find it useful. I would love to hear your thoughts on this or any other key techniques you leverage when establishing durations on your project.