Float (project management)
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- subsequent tasks ("free float")
- project completion date ("total float")
An activity on critical path has "zero free float", but activity that has zero free float might not be on the critical path. Total float is associated with the path. If a project network chart/diagram has 4 non-critical paths then that project would have 4 total float values. The total float of a path is the combined free float values of all activities in a path.
Consider the process of replacing a broken pane of glass in the window of your home. There are various component activities involved in the project as a whole; obtaining the glass and putty, installing the new glass, choosing the paint, obtaining a tin once it has set, wiping the new glass free of finger smears etc.
Some of these activities can run concurrently e.g. obtaining the glass, obtaining the putty, choosing the paint etc., while others are consecutive e.g. the paint cannot be bought until it has been chosen, the new putty cannot be painted until the window is installed and the new putty has set. Delaying the acquisition of the glass is likely to delay the entire project - this activity will be on the critical path and have no float, of any sort, attached to it and hence it is a 'critical activity'. A relatively short delay in the purchase of the paint may not automatically hold up the entire project as there is still some waiting time for the new putty to dry before it can be painted anyway - there will be some 'free float' attached to the activity of purchasing the paint and hence it is not a critical activity. However a delay in choosing the paint in turn inevitably delays buying the paint which, although it may not subsequently mean any delay to the entire project, does mean that choosing the paint has no 'free float' attached to it - despite having no free float of its own the choosing of the paint is involved with a path through the network which does have 'total float'.
- Project Management Institute. A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). Project Management Institute, 4 Original edition (December 31, 2008).
- AACE International (August 2007). "Cost Engineering Terminology, AACE International Recommended Practice No. 10S-90" (PDF). www.aacei.org.
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