How to Calculate Slack Time in Project Management

1. Determine the earliest start time for the project,

You can compute either the total slack time for the entire project or the slack time for individual project activities, depending on the intricacy of your project. For example, a project manager can establish the earliest and latest start times based on when their team completed the most recent assignment if they wish to quantify the idle time between different phases of a project. Project managers frequently utilize a PERT chart to organize project tasks when determining idle time, in which they include the work name, the earliest and latest start dates, and the earliest and latest completion deadlines.

The chart includes each start and finish date as the numerical date when team members can start and complete a project after initiation. The chart also includes sections for teams to list the earliest and latest dates. For example, assume a PERT chart for a software development project lists the earliest start date of the project as April 4, the latest start date as April 8, the earliest completion date as April 24 and the latest completion date as April 28. The earliest start time for the project in this case is four.

2. Establish the latest start time for the project

Determine the latest start date for project commencement, assuming you calculated your slack time for the entire project. You can set the latest start date depending on your project goals and timetable in cases when projects can only begin until your team completes another task or aspect. Use the preceding example dates of April 4, April 8, April 24, and April 28 on the example software development PERT chart. In this situation, the project manager can choose April 8 as the project's latest start date.

3. Calculate the difference between the most recent and the most recent start timings

You may calculate total slack time using the subtraction formula once you know your project's earliest and latest start times. Calculate the slack time using the preceding start dates when:

Slack time = (LST) - (EST)

(8) - (4) = 4

The idle time in this example is four days, which indicates the software development team has up to four days to start the project after finishing either a prior project or an individual procedure that is required to support the subsequent development processes. Additionally, the gap between the earliest and latest completion timings must be equal to the slack time you compute between the earliest and latest start dates.

4. Determine when your job will be completed as soon as possible

Use the same procedure to get the difference between the slack time you calculated when subtracting your start times and the time between your completion dates. Determine when you expect your team to finish the job as soon as possible. The earliest completion date in the example software development project is April 24.

5. Set the most recent deadline for the project

You can now determine the most recent project completion date. Add your slack time to the earliest completion date for your project to arrive at this deadline. Add four days to the earliest completion date of April 24 using the prior dates for the sample software development project. The team now has till April 28 to finish the job. Similarly, the lag period between the start and finish dates is four.

6. Examine your crucial path as well as your total slack time

Depending on the kind of projects you accomplish, you can use a critical path project management framework to establish which projects and tasks are crucial. Critical projects have a slack time of zero, which implies that they must be started right away. The projects or tasks you're calculating shouldn't be crucial as long as your slack time is larger than zero. Project managers can take measures to establish approaches that support the completion of essential projects when a project or task becomes critical.

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