What is Free Float in Project Management

StarAgilecalenderLast updated on July 20, 2022book12 minseyes3190

What is free float in project management? Free float is the timeframe during which a task can be moved without affecting other tasks. A task's delay isn't a big deal if the next task has enough free time to cover it.

Float is a valuable parameter for program planning, controlling projects, and coordinating tasks without delaying the overall system. Even the best-laid plans might encounter delays. To effectively handle any delays and ensure that initiatives continue to go forward without interruption, a skilled leader must have a solid understanding of the concept of "float."

Time is a factor that every team leader must constantly monitor. For effective initiatives, activities and deliverables must be completed on time.

The idea of free float is introduced here to explain what happens next. Free float would be the time a task has seen before affecting the next activity.

The Definition Of Free Float

The length of time an activity may be delayed without affecting the early starting date of any successors or exceeding schedule constraints.

It is only computed for the final activity in a loop.

Why Do You Need To Know About A Free Float?

Float, also called "slack," helps manage delays. Your staff or outside contractors should be notified of this information to stay ahead of your deadlines. To keep your task on track, you should be able to set both flexible and rigid deadlines. Understand more about the best practices in project tracking.

Free and total float knowledge can also aid in available resources and scheduling. Within the constraints of the float, it will be possible to reallocate resources as necessary. You may keep your team from feeling the effects of crunch time by taking a more flexible approach to initiatives.

Calculating Free Float For Project Planning

The proportion of a corporation's outstanding shares that public members can freely trade is called the "free float." Float time formulas make it simple to figure out how much float is needed.

It is calculated by subtracting the early start + the timeframe of the activity from the early completion of the Task. Due to the activity's Early Start/Late Start timing, we have slack time.

The calculation for the free float project management formula is

        ES of next activities (earliest start) - EF of recent activity (earliest finish)

Early start indicates the earliest possible date that activity may start, considering its predecessors and subsequent activities. The term "Early Finish" refers to the earliest possible date that work can end, provided all other activities also end on their specified dates.

Late Finish is the earliest date at which an activity can be completed without causing further delay to the task. The earliest a task can begin without affecting the scheduled completion date is referred to as a Late Start. The procedures used to compute free float project management can be distinct from one program to the next, just like there can be a wide variety of tasks. The following actions, on the other hand, can be taken as a general rule.

  • Organising Tasks The program leader determines the planned activities from start to finish. Considering both internal and external restraints, these results in increased efficiency. Identifying and determining which tasks depend on each other is vital to developing the strategic plan.
  • Establishing the Timeframe It is essential to quantify the time of tasks. This is how long it will take to complete each activity. This estimation is required for all activities from the commencement to the completion of the work.
  • Organising Tasks A model can be created to track the work's development. So both tasks and the resources are ranked in order of importance. There are the specified start and end dates for the entire operation. There are built-in constraints and also considerations for execution.

Determine the free float project management

To begin, you must determine the program's critical path. These steps must be taken to ensure the clients complete the work on time.

In addition to the critical path, one must specify the non-essential activities. Depending on your task's complexity, you may have more than a critical path, and activities overlap.

There's a simple formula to determine how much free float you have for non-critical activities. 

You need to calculate the earliest finish date, then take that value, together with the earliest start date, and deduct it from the total. This is the timeframe you must work with it before work is considered to be under schedule. It is also known as your free float.

Free float = earliest finish − earliest start.


Free float an example

Consider a plan in which the third critical path item is expected to take six days to complete. Let's additionally assume that this work is simultaneous with the following activity on the critical path with a prediction of? 9 days.

This indicates that the third process has a three-day float. As a result, it can be rescheduled for up to 3 days without significantly affecting the overall program's development. However, if the third task is delayed by five days, the float will be negative by two days. This indicates that if certain procedures are not performed, the work will be finished 2 days after the originally intended deadline.

The principle of the free float may be used for vital activities. It doesn't apply to other tasks in the same field.


Free float implementation in strategic planning

It does not matter which framework you are using; decision-makers need to have a solid understanding of their free-float market accessibility. In project management, free float is a vital part of every program and should be discussed with your team, regardless of whether you're using PMP or Agile.

Your work will be broken up and have specific due dates if you use the agile sprint methodology. Free float project management lets the teammates to understand the time taken to postpone a particular task before it causes any impact on their peers. This can aid in stress management and give individuals the opportunity to guarantee that their effort is excellent.

Contractors and staff will have to prioritise work on critical path activities since no free float is allowed. Free float gives you the freedom to do things that aren't vital. As long as the key tasks are accomplished under the plans, there is less pressure to complete the non-critical activities before the deadline.

Using tools like Kanban, Waterfall, and Gantt charts, you can track the development of your tasks effortlessly. These resources can provide contractors with an accurate picture of the current status of the endeavour they oversee. The Gantt charts will tell you exactly how long a participant has once there are disruptions if they come to you and suggest they require extra time on a specific assignment.


Free floats in the critical path

A critical path is a project-delaying activity or event. The sequence of steps results in the earliest completion of a process, especially when studied on a system for a large organisation.

Management teams usually involve the critical path methodology for organising tasks. This is the most time-consuming path of actions that must be carried out sequentially to complete a task successfully.

The tasks to be completed along this path need to be ranked as high in priority; otherwise, the deadline for the entire operation will be delayed too. Adding up each task's requirements and estimated time gives you the initiative's duration.

The identification of the critical path is a fundamental step in the planning process for many various types of organisations. Because of this, organisations will be able to establish an accurate plan and classify resources promptly.

Calculating free float is easier and more effective than the critical path method. A study of this kind would provide clarity because the float refers to the time frame that one activity can be extended without affecting the schedule of the next task.

You can assess float with the assistance of software by taking the difference between the early finish (EF) of one activity and the early start (ES) of the next action. It can display the gaps between key activities, which, when added together, will provide total float.


Calculation tools for free float

Free float depends on efficient task scheduling. PMI recommends using a logic diagram to show the sequence.

In today's world, technologies and automated systems are necessary for the management team. With the appropriate inputs, these can aid in determining the critical path and free float.

This system should be able to handle and exhibit dependents, live dashboards and overall success, and also generate reports for redistribution.



Free float project management is the timeframe one activity may be delayed without creating significant delay to subsequent activities. Before scheduling tasks, the teams must consider a free float resource, sometimes free slack. It can help projects reach their objective without issue when accurately estimated and utilised. It lets task planning for disruptions and other issues keep track of progress. If these delays occur for inevitable causes, free float enables system management to make the most efficient use of available resources to accelerate the work and fulfil the requirement. 


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