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An Overview of Multiple Float Paths in Primavera P6

We all know that we must pay attention to those activities on the critical path if we want to complete our projects on time and avoid liquidated damages. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Critical Path is defined as “The sequence of activities that represents the longest path through the project, which determines the shortest possible duration.” Activities on the critical path must start and finish on time to ensure that the project completes on schedule. Delays to any of the activities on the critical path will delay the project completion date unless the successor activities finish ahead of schedule due to adjustments made to the schedule (such as assigning additional resources to critical activities to reduce duration, overlapping relationships where feasible, changing the calendar on critical activities to work during standard non-work days/hours to name a few strategies).

Primavera P6 Professional allows you to specify which activities will be reported as “critical” as follows:

  • Total Float – critical activities are defined based upon total float value (for example, total float less than or equal to zero).
  • Longest Path – critical activities are defined as that sequence of driving activities that determine the project completion date.

Primavera P6 Professional provides the ability to identify and track multiple float paths allowing you to identify the most critical path in your project schedule as well as the sub-critical paths that may impact the completion of the most critical path.

You can calculate multiple paths based on Total Float or Free Float.

  • Free Float – the amount of time that a schedule activity can be delayed without delaying the early start date of any successor or violating a schedule constraint.
  • Total Float – the amount of time that a schedule activity can be delayed or extended from its early start date without delaying the project finish date or violating a schedule constraint.

This Primavera P6 Professional tutorial provides instructions on utilizing Multiple Float Paths.

Step 1. The image below depicts an Activity Network with the critical path.


Step 2. To calculate Multiple Float Paths, access the “Options” button from the Schedule dialog box.

Step 3. Select the “Advanced” tab. Check the box to calculate multiple floats and select whether to calculate based upon Total Float or Free Float. Choose Total Float to identify critical paths based on the total float of activity relationships. Choose Free Float to define critical float paths based on longest path. Notice that you can specify an activity, such as the end-project milestone or an intermediate milestone, denoting the end of the calculated float path.

Step 4. Calculate the schedule.

Step 5. Access the “Group and Sort” and dialog box to group activities by “Float Path”.

Step 6. The image below depicts the Activity Network grouped by “Float Path” enabling you to focus on the most critical and subsequent sub-critical paths. In other words, Multiple Float Paths help you to prioritize your efforts to be sure important deadlines are met.

Step 7. “Float Path Order” identifies the order in which the activities were processed within the float path. This value can be added as a column in an activity layout.

Step 8. The image below is grouped by Float Path and also indicates Float Path Order to help you identify where the activity belongs within the float path.

We have other tutorials on our blog and Primavera tutorials page. Leave all relevant questions and comments in the comments box.