Why do we need Start to Finish Relationship?

Start to Finish

Start to Finish Relationship is a Mathematical Practical Concept

Start to Finish (SF) Relationship is probably one of the most confusing scheduling concept. It is not a profound concept but students still find it confounding.

Start to Finish relationship example

During my classes, most of the students are able to understand first 3 PDM Relationships easily. There are seldom any questions on Finish to Start (FS), Start to Start (SS) and Finish to Finish (FF) Relationships. However, when it comes to  Start to Finish Relationship, there are numerous questions.

  1. What is the different between FS and SF?
  2. Is SF just a mathematical concept?
  3. Where do we use SF?
  4. Why can’t we invert and represent SF as FS?

Some of you would also have pondered over similar questions. Let us try to alleviate the confusion. Let us go back to the example that we used in the previous post on Start to Finish Relationship.

Start to Finish Example

The example talked about 2 Guards who are doing a shift duty. There is an Evening Guard (E) and a Morning Guard (M).

E can Finish her/his duty only when M Starts his/her duty. The vice versa is also true. The critical point is that E cannot Finish her/his duty before M Starts her/his duty. i.e E cannot abandon the post. E has to guard the post even if M is delayed in starting her/his duty. The Finish of E is logically dependent on Start of M.

In SF relationship, Finish of a Successor is dependent on Start of the Predecessor.

Start and Finish Events

Let us try to understand the concept in a different manner. Rather than looking at an Activity as a whole let us look at it as a set of 2 distinct events – Start Event (S) and Finish Event (F) of an Activity. So, for 2 distinct activities, we will have 2 sets of S & F events respectively. Now, let us define a logical relationship between two different activities. There could be 4 different type of logical relationships.

SF relationship only means that Finish of Second Activity is dependent on the Start of First Activity. The Second Activity is called the Successor and First Activity is called the Predecessor.

Final Thoughts

PDM Relationships are logical relationships that can be represented mathematically. However, not all mathematical relationships are logically correct. While making the Project Schedule you should ensure that all dependencies are logically true in the real world.

Over To You

Have you used SF relationship in your project? Or have you seen it being used? Or do you know of some other examples. If yes, then please leave a comment.

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Praveen Malik, PMP

​Praveen Malik ​is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 23+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor, Coach and ​Advisor. He ​has successfully trained thousands of aspirants for the PM certification exams.

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Abd Ulhamid Kamal Mohamed Ahmed Reply

I don’t agree with the definition of S.F relationship as (Predecessor Start to Successor Finish) how come a predecessoer start when the successor finish. I think the S.F relationship is like the F.S relationship but with overlapping between predecessor and successor here the finish of the predecessor is dependent on the start plus sometime of the succcessor.
In the first three types of relationships we begin with the predecessor but in the fourth one we begin with the successor to lead the relationship.
I think the correct definition of S.F relationship is: Start To Finish is a Logical Relationship in which a Predecessor Activity cannot finish until a Successor Activity has already started.

    Praveen Malik, PMP Reply

    Thanks for your comment. The Project Management meaning of predecessor & successor is slightly different from the English language meaning. You can the standard definition in the PMBOK Guide or any other reliable source.

    BR, Praveen.

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