Lets talk floaters, no not the kind that immediately come to mind…

I’m talking about project float and how its importance is massively underestimated or just misunderstood.

First of all there are different types of float. Generally when were talking float its total float that’s being discussed but for the avoidance of doubt I will explain the difference.

Free float = Time an activity can be delayed before affecting another activity.

Total float = Time an activity can be delayed fore affecting the critical path.

Terminal Float = A specified amount of time between planned and contract completion. This is owned by the Contractor or Subcontractor and cannot be used by anyone else.

Were going to focus on total float. Now you can have total float reporting to Key Date if you have them in your contract or they might just be to the contract completion.

Its possible for total float to be negative, this generally means that contractual dates are being exceeded.

So here’s where we come to Floaters…

A floater is what I like to call a programme where the total float shown is utter nonsense. Why does that matter you might ask!

Well, the first person to use up any available float owns it.

Here’s a basic example:

An activity has 20d of total float and is due to start on day 5 of the project. But the Client delays the start by not providing access which is finally given on day 25 of the project. The employer delay results in 0d project delay according to the critical path. Now during the activity the Contractor takes 5d longer than planned. As this delay happened after the Client took the float the Contractor is now responsible for the 5d project delay. This activity wouldn’t have been critical if it wasn’t for the Client delay but their delay happened first so it takes the available float.

So why does this matter if the Client was always going to take the float first.

Well that’s assuming your programme is showing the float correctly. Float will change depending on the logic in the programme and is very often manipulated by the misuse of constraints.

So back to Floaters!

Programmes that don’t show the right amount of float. Above was a very simple example, as you can imagine it gets much more complicated. Float is often not shown correctly and is manipulated by many factors such as working calendar, logic, constraints etc… Even the Tier 1 contractors get this wrong on occasions (On purpose or by mistake is up for debate…)

A lot of programmes I see are drawn to look right. This means that they have the activities in the right place. They are held together with misplaced logic and unnecessary constraints. This is normally done because the person planning the project either doesn’t understand float or they simply don’t have the time to do it correctly.

So what’s the impact of not showing float correctly?

Show too much float and:

🔸 Activities that are delayed by anyone will eat up the float first

🔸 If the float isn’t true then neither is your critical path

🔸 You will miss out on entitlement you are due

Don’t show enough float and:

🔸 Your critical path wont be true (everything will be critical or near critical)

🔸 Any delay you create will be critical and you would have to mitigate

Also not showing float correctly is a grounds for rejection of the contract programme.

The consequences of having a Floater will either be missed entitlement to time or incorrect critical project delay.

Float is often overlooked when producing or reviewing a programmes. Its also very easily manipulated with incorrect logic, calendars or constraints.

If your producing programmes to look right and not work as a programme then your working with a Floater.

Fortunately we know how to deal with floaters and have corrected many. So if you need help with yours then get in contact. If your happy to continue using floaters then good luck!!!

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