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PERT also known as program evaluation and review technique and CPM critical path method, are project management methods which help in controlling, monitoring, and scheduling network of tasks which are interlinked as well as simultaneous tasks. Project evaluation and review technique and critical path method have some distinct differences since duration of tasks are calculated differently in the 2 techniques. CPM users presuppose the duration of each task is known; PERT on the other hand allows for variation and uncertainty in every task in the project Nevertheless, both techniques are strongly related (CPM can be assumed to be a sub category of PERT), and many tasks can be analyzed using either technique.

In essence 6 main steps can be used in a hospital, to achieve minimum cost and meet deadlines involved in complex hospital projects:

  1. Identification of significant tasks and events in the hospital project. It’s important to organize all events from the earliest project to the last task. One start and finish point must be identified.
  2. Potential variables of the whole project are thereafter taken into consideration and all independent tasks which can be initiated simultaneously must be shown. Activities which precede others must be shown as well.
  3. Connecting all tasks using a network diagram is the next step. Distinct identification numbers are then allocated to every task and in some cases use of dummy arrows is essential to avoid double numbering.
  4. Cost and duration of each project is then assigned to all tasks in the hospital project.
  5. Calculation of the path that takes the longest time is then done. This is referred to as the critical path. Calculation of slack time is also essential especially if the project has activities which are not critical. Trade off between time and cost of activities must also be analyzed as well as the resource usage of every activity to prevent unwarranted overheads.
  6. Finally the hospital network diagram can be used to control, monitor and plan the hospital project.

A situation where both PERT and CPM can be used simultaneously in a hospital is as shown below:

Activity.    Description.     Immediate Predecessor.   Earliest Start.         Latest                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Time(days)  Finish Time(Days)

A.  Select medical  employees                  6               9

B. Conduct site survey                             A              10.                    10.

C.  Buying hospital Equipment                  B              11                     13   

D. Prepare the layout of building plans.     B              12                     13

E. All materials are transported to the site.  A            18                      18

F. Applicants for security, nursing and

Maintenance jobs, as well As hospital

Support staffs are interviewed.               C, D, A         18                       18    

G. Delivery of equipment after purchase.  F, I, J          13                       15

H.Build the hospital.                                 B                                          

The critical path of the above hospital project will be ACFJK which will take the longest time of 46 days. In case any of the projects in this path becomes delayed, the whole hospital project will be affected.

If the same data is used under PERT technique the outcome will be the same however the Gantt chart diagram will be as shown below.                           

PERT technique has several advantages such as: it assists planners to organize complex projects and help them to make the necessary changes incase unforeseen delays occur. It also provides an easy analysis of areas of a project which need improvement or more manpower.

PERT techniques are vital in showing how much work has been completed by clearly showing the overall progress of the project. Many professionals use them when writing reports or presentations.

On the other hand PERT techniques have some weaknesses. Such as, projects estimates must be carried out even before the technique can be used. This method also doesn’t leave room for correlation between works being done.  This technique is also tedious when it comes to making changes; it usually requires the planner to redraw everything. Another major weakness is that you cannot create multiple options of schedules on the same diagram.

CPM has in proved to be more popular among planners and over time it has undergone more improvements. One advantage is that this method shows visible dependencies among tasks which enable the planner to focus on critical path activities to avoid major delays of the project. It also enables managers to identify slack for each task, as well as earliest start time and latest finish time. This method is also very practical when the planner wants to reduce time taken by the project by enabling planners to overlap activities and do them simultaneously where possible.

 This technique has some disadvantages such as: the network drawn can be very large, extending to different pages especially in cases where the tasks involved in a project are numerous. Without software it could take even weeks to develop a network diagram especially in situations where changes have to be made to the original plan. Another major weakness of this technique is that it tends to misrepresent the relative elements in a project and thus tasks which are behind schedule tend to be overlooked.  

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