It seems that just about every project that I have ever worked on has had some form of scope creep occur. There is always some type of unanticipated issue that comes up and changes the scope of the project in some way. Scope creep is known as “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer & Sutton, 2008, p. 350) and these improvements can take in all shapes and sizes. I have experienced both good and bad scope changes within a project and regardless of the type of change it may be, it is really all about how the project manger deals with the changes in regards to the overall project. It is up to them to make sure that any changes to the scope will occur smoothly and effectively, while keeping the budget and schedule on track.

One project that comes to mind when I think of my past experiences with scope creep is when I was working as an instructional technologist on a government contractor with the EPA. I company that I was working for was contracted to build an online learning course in 6 months. We were hired to design and develop one course but that soon changed and we were then asked to create more than 50 courses and this all came about because they finally go the funding that they were waiting on. Having more money is always a good thing in a project because it provides a chance for more resources and work but on the negative side the project manager will need to change many parts of the project to reflex the changes.

Soon after the project plan reflected the new courses that were to be developed, EPA wanted to change the format that the training was going to be delivered and the technology that they wanted to use. This added an entirely new element to the project and many more changes to the project plan, because “when scope changes are unavoidable, the project manager should identify their impact on the project plan” (Lynch & Roecker, 2007). The problem was that the new delivery method and technology that they wanted to use was not something that we were able to do and it required much more resources then what our company was able to provide so we ended up sub-contracting out some of the work. While this was a good solution for that moment but the company that was sub-contacting did end up causing many more problems later on in the project but I will not get into that. To make a long story short, the 50 courses where not successfully completed because there was one change after another and the EPA pulled the project. It was a very stressful project that never seemed to have any structure because it was constantly in transition and the scoop was always creeping.

During that time I rolled with what the project manager and company decided to do with the project but I could tell that the project had issues and that it was not going to be successful unless someone turned things around and have more structure. Things were very unorganized and not very well documented. One issue that I had was that the project manager just gave the client anything that they wanted without really thinking of the team and what we could do. He was over promising and under delivering which is not good business practice. Looking back on the experience now, if I had been in the position of managing the project, I would been more realistic with what I could deliver and really be honest with the client and also my team. I also would have used many more documents to keep track of important project records for communication with the team and the client, this would have helped to better manage the issues and control the scope of the project more closely.

References:

Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management. London: Routledge. Copyright by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Group, LLC via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

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