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Project Management Float Analysis

Group I

Critical path method

The critical path method (CPM) is an algorithm for scheduling a set of project activities. The essential technique for using CPM is to construct a model of the project that includes the following: 1. A list of all activities required to complete the project (typically categorized within a work breakdown structure), 2. The time (duration) that each activity will take to completion, and 3. The dependencies between the activities. Using these values, CPM calculates the longest path of planned activities to the end of the project, and the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish without making the project longer. This process determines which activities are "critical" (i.e., on the longest path) and which have "total float" (i.e., can be delayed without making the project longer). In project management, a critical path is the sequence of project network activities which add up to the longest overall duration. This determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. Any delay of an activity on the critical path directly impacts the planned project completion date (i.e. there is no float on the critical path). A project can have several, parallel, near critical paths. An additional parallel path through the network with the total durations shorter than the critical path is called a sub-critical or non-critical path.

Float or slack is the amount of time that a task in a project network can be delayed without causing a delay to: subsequent tasks ("free float") project completion date ("total float")

An activity on critical path has "zero free float", but an 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. The total float represents the schedule flexibility and can also be measured by subtracting early dates from late dates of path completion. Float is core to critical path method.

Task in Network Diagrams

(Free Float)

Early Start (ES)

Early Finish (EF)

Task Name, Duration (D)

Late Start (LS)
(Total Float) Late Finish (LF)

EF = ES + D LS = LF - D

Free Float: The amount of time a scheduled activity can be delayed without delaying the early start of any immediately following scheduled activities. Free Float = ES (of next activity) - EF Total Float: The amount of time that the schedule activity may be delayed from its early start without delaying the project finish or violating a schedule constraint. Total Float = LS - ES

CPM example Precedence table

Activity A Shower

The last activities that must be completed before an activity can begin

Immediately preceding activities


B Dry hair
C Fetch car keys D Iron clothes E Dress and make-up F Drive to interview


7 12 10 20

Activity on Node Network Diagram

Free Float : 00
(00) A (03) (01) (04) (04) (03)

Free Float : 01
(03) B (08) (12) (11)

Red Arrows Denote Critical Path

Total Float : 01 Free Float : 00

(00) D (12) (00) (12) (12)

Total Float : 01 Free Float : 00

(12) E (10) (12) (22) (22)

Total Float : 00 Free Float : 15

(00) C (07) (07)

Total Float : 00 Free Float : 00

(22) F (20) (42)





Total Float : 15

Total Float : 00