The Program Evaluation and Review Technique, also known as PERT, can at first seem complex. But by breaking the concept down based on a few key terms, you can better understand how the theory works and how you can apply it to your organization. PERT can be used several different ways, for everything from creating an action plan for your employees to creating a presentation for investors or senior management. Whatever your purpose for using PERT, the basic steps and concepts are essentially the same. Tasks Tasks are the basis of the PERT method. You start by identifying each task required for a project, and estimating the time needed for each. Only by being able to break a project down to its most basic levels will you be able to successfully implement PERT. Critical path The critical path is an outline of the steps you will take to complete the project. The critical path is what's created by identifying all of the necessary tasks and estimating the time for each. PERT chart The PERT chart is what keeps you on track during the project. These charts are useful both in breaking down the project and in showing others all of the steps involved in the process. The PERT chart serves as a visual, step-by-step guide to achieving your company's goal. The PERT chart includes all of the steps of the PERT method. Estimation In addition to identifying each task needed for the project, you also need to estimate the amount of time needed for each task. Your ability to accurately estimate this time is key to the success of your PERT chart. Project management PERT is a method used for project management, and understanding the subject as a whole is key to understanding the specifics of PERT, and to understanding your role as a project manager. Analysis PERT really has two aspects: its use as a planning tool, and its function for helping you analyze a project. It's important to understand how those two functions differ, and how they work hand-in-hand in the PERT method to help you evaluate and plan a project.