PERT vs Gantt charts: Which one is better for project management?

Project management can be daunting, especially when you have a lot of variables to consider. One of the ways to make project management easier is to use visual aids. That's where PERT and Gantt charts come in. These charts simplify complex data, making it easier to analyze and evaluate.

But which one is better? That's a question that comes up a lot, and the answer isn't always straightforward. To help you figure it out, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about PERT and Gantt charts, and comparing them side by side.

What is a PERT chart?

PERT stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique. Simply put, a PERT chart is a graphical representation of a project schedule. It’s similar to a flowchart but focuses specifically on time.

PERT charts display the relationships between project tasks, how long each task is expected to take, and the critical path—the series of tasks that must be completed on time for the project to finish on schedule. This allows project managers to visually understand where a project stands and what needs to be done to finish on time.

PERT charts are particularly useful for larger projects where the timeline can be complex and constantly evolving. They’re also used when uncertainty is high, like when undertaking a new project with unknown variables. PERT charts are designed to handle such risks and uncertainties by displaying the critical path, allowing project managers to identify key tasks that need to be completed on time to ensure project success.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that represents a project schedule. It lays out tasks along the timeline, and each task is represented by a bar. The length of the bar corresponds to the amount of time required to complete a task.

Gantt charts were pioneered by Henry Gantt in the early 20th century, and they have a long history of use in project management. One of the unique features of Gantt charts is that they allow project managers to visually see the progress of a project as it unfolds.

Like PERT charts, Gantt charts are particularly useful for larger projects with multiple tasks and dependencies. They enable project managers to visually see how tasks are interconnected, helping them plan tasks in a more efficient manner.

Differences between PERT and Gantt charts

Now that we’ve covered the basics of PERT and Gantt charts, it’s time to compare the two. There are several key differences between the two types of charts:

Time focus

As mentioned before, PERT charts focus on time, specifically on the sequencing and duration of tasks. They're better suited for projects with a longer timeline or more uncertainty, where the focus is on understanding the critical path so that the project can remain on schedule.

Gantt charts, on the other hand, focus on task completion and progress. They’re better suited for projects with well-defined tasks and timelines, where the focus is on completing tasks in the most efficient manner possible.


PERT charts display tasks in a simple graph that shows the relationships between tasks. This makes it easy for project managers to understand the dependencies between tasks and identify potential risks. However, PERT charts aren't as good at displaying how tasks progress over time.

Gantt charts, on the other hand, display tasks along a timeline, making it easier to see when tasks start, end, and overlap. This makes it easy for project managers to understand how tasks are being completed and identify potential issues that may arise.


PERT charts are more flexible when it comes to handling changes in project timelines or requirements. They're better suited for projects with a lot of uncertainty or risk, as they allow project managers to shift resources as needed to ensure that critical tasks are completed on time.

Gantt charts are less flexible when it comes to handling changes. They're better suited for projects with well-defined timelines and tasks, where changes to the schedule are unlikely.


Finally, PERT charts can be more difficult to understand for people who aren’t involved in the project. They're primarily designed for project managers who understand the nuances of project management.

Gantt charts are more accessible to people outside of the project management sphere, making it easier for stakeholders to understand progress and timelines.

When to use PERT charts

PERT charts are best for projects with a long timeline or a lot of uncertainty. They’re particularly useful for:

When using a PERT chart, be sure to consider the risks and uncertainties associated with the project. Be prepared to make modifications to the critical path as needed and be flexible enough to adjust to potential problems.

When to use Gantt charts

Gantt charts are best for projects with well-defined tasks and a clear timeline. They’re particularly useful for:

When using a Gantt chart, be sure to consider task dependencies and completion order. Be prepared to adjust timelines as needed to prioritize tasks that may be running late.


So which is better: PERT or Gantt charts? Ultimately, the answer depends on the project you’re working on. If you’re working on a long-term project with a lot of uncertainty, PERT charts are likely the way to go. On the other hand, if your project has a clear timeline and well-defined tasks, Gantt charts may be the better choice.

Regardless of which one you choose, it’s important to remember that project management is an iterative process. Be prepared to change course as needed and adjust timelines and tasks to ensure that your project stays on schedule.

If you’re looking for a PERT or Gantt chart tool to help you manage your project, be sure to check out for an easy-to-use and affordable solution.

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