by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/7/15.
I’ve found that many people are unfamiliar with the value of a PERT chart to help leaders visualize steps in church planning. And regrettably, I have found that most churches are often remiss in not evaluating nor reviewing their plans.
However, a PERT chart (an acronym for Project [or Program] Evaluation and Review Technique) gives you another tool in your leadership arsenal.
Here are a couple ideas to learn about a PERT chart.
First, search online for examples and to understand the basics.
There are different varieties of PERT charts. I have found that church leaders resonate best with the simple MILESTONE-ACTIVITIES model (where MILESTONES are represented by a “circle” and ACTIVITIES are represented by an “arrow” with a time attached). Here is an example of a simple PERT chart:
(retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Program_Evaluation_and_Review_Technique )
Here is an explanation of the above.
MILESTONE 50 is the GOAL. To get there requires four MILESTONES to be accomplished: 10, 20, 30 and 40.
For example, in the above diagram getting from MILESTONE 10 to MILESTONE 20 and MILESTONE 30 requires Activity B and A respectively. The estimated time for activity A is 3 months, and Activity B is 4 months.
Let me explain how the above PERT chart could be used for a need-assessment survey of the unchurched population around your church.
MILESTONE 10 could be “the board agrees to assess needs of community in a five mile radius of the church.” GOAL 50 is therefore: “to present at an annual leaders’ retreat an assessment of the needs of community in a five mile radius of the church.”
One group of leaders decide they will do secondary research (basically looking into research by others). They will accomplish MILESTONE 30 and 40 on the way to GOAL 50.
MILESTONE 30: the group will meet and divide into two more groups. One sub-group will get demographic information from local leaders such as business people., the chamber of commerce, etc (activity D). Another sub-group that will look at information that is available online (activity E) and bring it to the retreat (GOAL 50).
Another group of church leaders will do primary research by going out and actually interviewing people in the community (this is called primary research, because they are generating the research themselves and not just summarizing what others have found). Group 2 will accomplish MILESTONE 20 on the way to GOAL 50.
MILESTONE 20: This is a Saturday neighborhood walk-through by a group of church leaders. Each group takes a different neighborhood to cover the 5 communities within a five mile radius. It takes 4 months to plan this and accomplish it. Then in ACTIVITY C the canvassers get together and pool their responses and create a report.
MILESTONE 40: The group that is going to the local business leaders sees themselves taking an additional step of selecting three business leaders to address the retreat.
MILESTONE 50 (GOAL): In about 7 months the report to the leaders retreat is ready.
Below are my “hints” to some of the PERT fundamentals for church leaders:
- A PERT chart commonly uses “circles” called MILESTONES (sometimes called EVENTS) numbered sequentially by 10s (10, 20, 30, etc.). This allows adding more MILESTONES in between and numbering them 11, 12 or 21, 22, etc.
- A PERT chart also uses “arrows” (representing ACTIVITIES) that must be completed to get to the next MILESTONE.
- Adjacent to an ACTIVITIES arrow should be a designation of the time you think will be required to complete the activity. The time is written like this: t=3 mo.
- The next EVENT cannot take place until the event before it is completed.
- A PERT chart helps you manage several tasks at the same time.
- A PERT chart allows you to see the time needed for each task.
- A PERT chart is flexible, allowing you to add more sub-ACTIVITIES and sub-MILESTONES later.
Let me give you a caution so that you don’t try to drill down too far in your first PERT chart. A PERT chart is designed to grow with you as you go through a project. You will add sub-ACTIVITIES and sub-MILESTONES later as the project unfolds.
However it is best to start with an initial PERT chart, one that you might present to your church your leaders. Thus, do not add too many sub-ACTIVITIES or sub-MILESTONES. Don’t get too complex with this initial PERT chart. Remember, sub- MILESTONES (circles) and sub-ACTIVITIES (arrows) can be added as the project unfolds.
It is good to simply begin to grasp the basic goals (i.e. MILESTONES), the ACTIVITIES that link the milestones, and the time needed for each activity. It is a way for you to evaluate whether your plans are realistic and attainable. And, it will introduce you to a popular and widely used tool with which many of your lay-business people will be familiar.