Who owns the float? Why should it matter who owns the float?

Why should it matter who owns the float?


“Who owns the float?” is a really important question when a change is introduced into a project. It’s controversial and a quick internet search of that exact question reveals many thousands of attempts to clarify it. It matters when a project is delayed and it really matters when a claim arises. That float represented the project’s initial capacity to absorb additional work without impacting crucial dates and it’s literally correct (well almost) that it is referred to in P6 as “free float”. Unfortunately, when the blame game starts it quickly becomes clear that there’s no more “free float” than there are “free lunches” and it soon develops into the first skirmish in the larger battle to establish whether it was client or contractor most at fault for the overruns on cost and time for the project.

I’ve been involved in claims related work in recent years. It can be an unpleasant business tearing down fellow planners’ best efforts in order to portray the other party in the least favourable light. In my opinion it’s far less satisfying than building good plans for yourself or providing constructive criticism to others.

So many projects fail (late/over budget) that there’s prevailing assumption that they will do so. This means that that the winning can-do attitude shown by both parties in the lead up to contracts being awarded, rapidly deteriorates thereafter as respective audit trails to avoid blame become the priority. Whilst there are many complex reasons for a project to get into trouble, this change in attitude is a particular self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m dismayed by this and my response is to offer impartial oversight for those who recognise the problems that arise when a collaborative relationship becomes adversarial and agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Project Pilots can provide a range of third party services to encourage harmony throughout the life of a project. Those services include:

  • Review of project controls and standards.
  • Schedule quality analysis and recommendations for improvement.
  • Pre-emptive dispute resolution by CEDR Accredited Mediators with expertise in contract law and project planning.

These services are intended to be independent and would normally be subject to agreement and joint funding by both parties in order to ensure that they remain so. For further details contact enquiries@projectpilots.net.

Back to the original question. It shouldn’t matter, that float isn’t there for either party to claim, it’s supposed to serve the best interests of the successful project.


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