What is Float Project Management?


Float project management is likely something you’ve encountered if you’ve been involved in project management at any time.

Float project management can be a fantastic way to supercharge your projects and significantly boost your productivity.

Suppose you have a decent method for managing the activities that comprise a project but struggle with resource management or resource scheduling. In that case, float project management can be a fantastic solution to better balance your team’s time and prevent projects from missing deadlines.

To determine if float project management can be incorporated into your workflows, we have outlined what float project management is, how to identify float forms, how to apply the float time formula, and how to adopt float project management into your workflows.

What does “Float” Mean in Project Management?

To put it another way, float in project management refers to the amount of time that a specific job can be delayed without triggering a delay in the completion of the entire project.

On the other hand, there is somewhat more to it than that. 

Project managers can use two distinct kinds of float to manage task timelines. These floats are known as total float and free float.

Let’s compare and contrast the two by looking at some key differences.

Total Float

  • The total length of time that a task can be postponed without impacting the delivery date of the completed project
  • In most cases, what is meant to be referred to when project managers talk about “project float.”
  • Can put the project’s final delivery date in jeopardy and is a greater cause for concern than free float

Free Float

  • The amount of time that an activity can be delayed before it starts to affect other tasks that are in its path
  • This term is used far less frequently than total float
  • Typically not a major cause for concern regarding project delivery

Float’s Advantages in Project Management

As you might expect, project float, also referred to as project “slack” in some circles, is extremely useful for project managers, particularly those supervising large, complex projects involving several task pathways.

Managing resources, developing a schedule, and ensuring that projects remain on track to be delivered on time are significantly aided by using project float.

Nevertheless, the float also greatly benefits project managers collaborating with internal resource managers and contractors.

You can provide your contractors with greater room to maneuver if, for instance, you are aware of the amount of free float and the overall float that a specific activity entails.

Because of this, they can make the most of their timetable by picking the most qualified workforce for the position, beginning work as soon as the necessary materials are delivered, prioritizing work during favorable weather conditions, and avoiding working overtime.

Similarly, internal resource managers can better use project slack’s flexibility.

They won’t have to worry about meeting rigid, non-negotiable deadlines since the float provided by the project will provide them with the breathing room they need to distribute resources effectively.

An illustration of float in project management

Let’s examine a straightforward illustration of how float might develop in a project.

Consider setting a timetable of six months for the construction of a ground-floor addition to your home.

The following tasks must be finished to construct the extension:

  • Establishing the framework
  • Electric and plumbing
  • Painting and plastering
  • Laying the groundwork

It will take six weeks to properly lay the foundations before installing the plumbing and electricity.

However, you have allotted eight weeks in your project plan to lay the foundation.

This means that the scheduled installation of plumbing and electrical can proceed as planned two weeks following the commencement of your project.

Why Float Is Important?


Although float may appear to be only a technical term used in network diagrams, it is actually a very potent tool that may aid teams in understanding their work and boost project efficiency.

1. It keeps tasks moving forward.

To begin with, keeping an eye on a project’s total float (TF) is essential to guarantee that the entire project will be completed on schedule.

The last few jobs on a project must be successfully completed if you see that the TF is approaching 0.

To assist the project team in completing the last tasks more quickly than anticipated.

It’s time to talk to your customer or other stakeholders and let them know that the project won’t be finished on time so they can prepare for a delay.

2. It Straightens up Prioritization

You can utilize free float (FF) as a gauge to determine which jobs should be given top priority and which can wait till later by keeping track of it.

A job should be prioritized higher so the project team can complete it with no float or a low float number.

On the other hand, since there is no pressing need to complete projects with large FF values, they can be dropped to the top of the priority list.

3. It Heightens Team Confidence

Free float can also be utilized to maintain the productivity and satisfaction of various project teams.

Let’s imagine that job A is in danger of causing task B to be delayed since it is heading toward a meager free float value.

In this situation, you can provide some more resources to the Task A team to aid in the completion of their work.

Another option is to inform the team working on task B that they should expect a delay in their work.

By keeping an eye on FF, you can identify issues early and prevent teams from being irritated by unexpected delays.

Team B can pass the time by working on anything else if they know of potential delays.

4. Dwindle Stress

Because it enables you to determine how flexible you can be with the deadline for a particular work, float time calculation can reduce stress.

This can assure you that you can accomplish the rest of the project on schedule as long as you finish the work before the deadline.

The Float Types

Although we have discussed some of the points above, we will go a bit deeper to get at the Float types.

To create and keep up-to-date schedules, you may employ many float forms throughout your project management career.

Become acquainted with the following forms of float to strengthen your project management skills:

1. Total Float

Total float lets the team know when a project is due and gives them some leeway to help them keep to the timetable.

A total float is a tool used by project managers to estimate how long a task may be delayed without negatively affecting the project’s success.

This aids project managers in determining whether a particular activity might change their anticipated completion date.

2. Free Float

This phrase describes how much time a task can be put off without impacting other duties.

Free float is a tool that project managers can use to assess the potential effects of delaying one assignment on the work of other team members.

This makes it easier for project managers to determine whether a certain action may impact a subsequent activity rather than the actual completion date.

3. Project Float

Project float is the period of time you can postpone a project in its entirety without having any negative effects on the client, customer, or end user.

Product managers frequently give their team an internal deadline that is sooner than the day they commit to handing over the completed project to their client.

This gives them time to prepare in case there are unforeseen delays.

4. Interfering Float

The term “interfering float” describes the amount of time you can put off starting work without postponing the deadline for finishing the project.

The start date of another noncritical work or activity in this situation may also be delayed due to the delayed task. Still, the start date of the essential task may not be affected.

You can put off starting a task by two days and still finish it by the deadline; for instance, if you gave yourself five days to finish something, that might only take three.

5. Independent Float

The Independent float designates the most extended period of time that a task can be postponed without influencing the early start date of related tasks or activities.

The early start date designates the earliest day you could begin a particular task.

The final day to take photos without postponing the editing process is January 2.

For instance, if you’re working on a photography project and your early start date to edit photos is on January 3, you have until then.


Project managers need to have a solid understanding of float.

Using float can help your team stay on schedule and within budget regardless of the methodology you like to use for your projects.

Although delays are unavoidable, you can prepare for the worst-case scenario if you know how much of them you can take before they cause your project’s completion date to slip.



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