Fortunately, not all activities on a project are typically on the critical path, especially on a large project; they can’t be, and if they are, run away fast and far from that project because it will never succeed. It’s not possible to schedule a project with several thousand activities and expect the outcome to turn out exactly as planned. Some activities are going to take longer while others will take shorter time to actually complete. A schedule with float designed within it allows for a contractor or owner to adjust without affecting the project’s end date when things don’t pan out as planned. As a result, it becomes important who owns the right to control float.
So who owns float? Who gets to choose what to do with the "cushion" that is designed into the schedule, or is created when an activity takes less time to complete than originally planned? The Owner will argue float must be theirs since they're paying the bills; they're at most risk if the project is not completed on time. If the owner has control of the float, then he would have the right to delay any activity in the project and consume the float at his will, without liability to the contractor. This could result in several additional expenses and/or affect the performance of the project. Some owners think the contractor must always work towards the early date schedule of each activity. In practice this would never work. There are too many uncertainties with resource peaks and valleys throughout the project cycle. If the contractor owns float, however, then he can control the time and sequencing of activities that are not on the critical path. Float allows the contractor to manage and level out resources over times and the contractor can accommodate changes and delays to the maximum extent possible, thereby mitigating the owner's cost and schedule impacts. It is in the projects best interest if the contractor is allowed to do his job, complete the project as he has planned, with anticipation of uncertainties and the use of float.
Ownership of float can be settled clearly in contract negotiations and provisions. The Contractor should take extra care in bargaining towards the ownership of the float in contract negotiations. Float permits the contractor to diminish peaks and valleys of resources during execution of the project. Facing clear allocation of float towards the owner, the contractor should consider preparing the schedule to have minimal float so that he has more control over his activities and of the project. Any delay or disruption by the owner will allow the contractor to obtain compensation with greater ease.