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!