The Problem: Float Abuse
The way that Total Float has been formulated, depicted, and utilized according to Dominant Project Management guidelines … has been problematic from the get-go.
- Formulation: First, Total Float is defined as the difference between Earliest Dates and Latest Dates. This, in itself, is problematic, since both sets of dates are theoretical and without practical significance.Earliest Dates represent what would happen if everything went flawlessly for the entire length of the project. No same, living person with any practical real life experience would sign up for that assumption.
- Latest Dates represent the last possible moment one can procrastinate to, again based on the assumption that everything will go flawlessly from now until the end of the project. What responsible perform leaves everything until the last possible moment?
- Total Float, as a numeric value, represents the difference between these two sets of extreme dates, neither of which a responsible Project Executor would rely upon!
- Depiction: Second, Total Float is redundantly reported. Total Float does not belong to an individual activity; it belongs to an entire Activity Path that spans two bulkhead Date Constraints. Accordingly, the Total Float should not be reported separately for each activity along that Activity Path, but only once for the entire Activity Path.
Since Dominant Project Management does not recognize the Activity Path as a discrete Work Scope container within the schedule, it has no choice but to erroneously report Total Float alongside each activity that resides on the (unrecognized) Activity Path. This is seen in any standard CPM tabular, where Total Float is reported in the far-right column.
- Utilization: Third, Total Float is generally understood to represent a surplus of time, when the time required to perform a set of activities is compared with the time available to perform that set of activities. This general understanding leads to a number of abuse problems.
Individual contractors, seeing that “their” activity has Total Float (even though, it does not … see previous point), take advantage of the “extra time.” At the other end, the Owner sees the Total Float and decides to add additional scope to the Contractor’s contract, without having to extend the contract completion deadline.
The Solution, Discrete Activity Float
Cognitive Project Management solved the problem by figuring out how to allocate the Total Float proportionately to all activities along the Activity Path. Doing so accomplishes several things:
It secures each Project Participant’s discrete portion of the overall Activity Path float. This Discrete Float is theirs to use or lose. But because it has been determined by formula (and policy) it can be protected.
- Once and for all, it rids Project Time Management of a great nemesis, Float Usurping, which is where, on a first-come-first-served basis, whoever can gobble up the Total Float first enjoys it. All others, downstream, work “without a net.”
- It also provides for a new set of statistics that can be correlated to the Activity, Activity Path Segment, and Activity Path.
Finally, because activities quite often reside multiple Activity Paths simultaneously, Discrete Activity Float can be aggregated … thus yielding a composite Float value for each activity that is distinct and telling. Applying Discrete Activity Float, one will see that activities lying side-by-side on the same Activity Path can actually have different Discrete Activity Float values!