Those in project management must be aware of the total float time they have available to them at the beginning of the project. Total float is how many delays are allowed from the beginning of the project which will not interfere with the projected completion date. Anything can happen during the course of working on an extended task. Outdoor projects can be affected by adverse weather conditions which might create delays of hours or even days. Even indoor projects and virtual tasks can be met with unforeseen circumstances which sidetrack workers on the job. These delays are known as the total float, and project management must always keep this number in mind to ensure that the project will be finished on time.
In order to determine the total float, project management use the critical path method, and they can also figure the earliest possible and latest completion dates for the task. Ideally, a project should never go beyond the late finish date, and by knowing how many days are built into the schedule for delays, those in management can keep the project running right on schedule.
This term is defined in the 3rd and the 4th edition of the PMBOK.