Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating PERT Charts

If you are in the project management field, you might have come across a Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) chart. A PERT chart is a powerful tool used to manage complex projects. It helps project managers define tasks, identify dependencies, and estimate the duration of each task. However, creating a PERT chart can be challenging, especially if you are not aware of the common mistakes that could compromise the accuracy of your chart.

In this article, we'll look at some common mistakes to avoid when creating PERT charts.

1. Skipping the Planning Stage

The planning stage is the foundation of your PERT chart. If you skip this stage, you'll end up with a chart that is inaccurate and incomplete. The planning stage involves breaking down the project into smaller tasks and identifying the dependencies between these tasks. You'll also need to estimate the time required to complete each task.

When planning, take your time to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the objectives and outcomes of the project. Define the scope of the project and determine the resources required. The more detailed your plan is, the more accurate your PERT chart will be.

2. Ignoring Dependencies

Dependencies refer to the relationships between tasks. It's essential to identify dependencies between tasks to ensure that your PERT chart accurately reflects the project's timeline. If you ignore dependencies, you'll end up with a chart that is inaccurate.

There are three types of dependencies:

When identifying dependencies, be sure to note any lead or lag time that might be required.

3. Underestimating Task Durations

Task duration is the amount of time you estimate it will take to complete a task. It's crucial to ensure that your task duration estimates are accurate to ensure that your PERT chart is reliable. If you underestimate the duration of tasks, you'll end up with a PERT chart that suggests that the project is progressing faster than it is. This, in turn, can lead to unrealistic expectations about the project's completion date.

When estimating task duration, be realistic. Consider the complexity of the task, the resources required, and any dependencies. Consider risks and possible roadblocks that might affect the completion of the task.

4. Neglecting the Critical Path

The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks that determines the project's completion date. Neglecting the critical path can lead to a PERT chart that is not accurate. It's essential to identify the critical path and ensure that you keep track of it throughout the project.

To identify the critical path, start by looking at the duration of each task. From there, identify the path that takes the longest time to complete. This path is the critical path.

5. Overcomplicating the Chart

Your PERT chart should be simple and easy to understand. If you overcomplicate the chart, you risk confusing team members and stakeholders. A PERT chart should provide a clear, concise overview of the project's timeline.

When creating your PERT chart, use clear, concise language. Avoid using technical jargon or acronyms that might not be familiar to everyone. Use a layout that is easy to read and understand.

6. Not Updating the Chart

A PERT chart is not a set-it-and-forget-it tool. It's essential to update the chart regularly to ensure that it accurately reflects the project's timeline. Failure to update the chart can lead to inaccurate projections of the project's completion date.

When updating the chart, ensure that you capture any changes in task duration, new tasks, and changes to dependencies.

7. Failing to Communicate

Your PERT chart is an important communication tool that you'll use to keep team members and stakeholders informed about the project's progress. Failing to communicate changes to the chart or progress updates can lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Ensure that you communicate regularly with team members and stakeholders. Let them know about changes to the chart and any changes in the project timeline. Keep them informed about project risks and roadblocks.


Creating a PERT chart can be challenging, but if done correctly, it can be an invaluable tool for managing complex projects. By avoiding these common mistakes, you'll be well on your way to creating a reliable PERT chart that will help ensure the success of your project. Remember to take your time with the planning stage, identify dependencies accurately, and keep your chart updated. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to create a PERT chart that accurately reflects the project's timeline and keeps everyone informed about progress.

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