Archive for May 2013

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Blog Assignment Week 6- Dealing with Scope Creep

            Scope creep is defined 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, et al, 2008, p. 350).  When thinking about a project that was affected by scope creep, I immediately remembered a fundraiser event that I helped organize at my job. I am a co-chair of the Varsity Club at my High School.. We regularly try to take part in service events which include raising money for charitable causes, food drives, and other events that will provide funds for the school. Each year, we have a canned food drive prior to Thanksgiving. We ask the students to bring in non-perishable items and we then donate them to families located in the local school community. Usually, the project goes off without a hitch. We have a specific timeline, which includes the beginning and end dates, and the students and parents are given a list of what kinds of items we were looking for. After you have determined the work involved in your project, you can organize it into milestones, phases, and tasks and enter it into a project plan (www.cognitivedesignsolutions.com, 2003). 

            For some unknown reason, this years food drive went awry. We determined a selected start and end date to the project, during one of our Varsity Club meetings. The other co-chair was supposed to work with our Club officers to get the posters up on the walls to advertise, and they were going to get on the morning announcements to let the school know about our plans. However, for some reason, that did not happen. Already, the schedule was affected. Perhaps, the students forgot, or my co-chair got busy. Either way, the project started about a week late. When a scope is not originally clearly defined, many misunderstandings on what is to be accomplished or how it will be accomplished can result (Gurlen, 2003).

 We usually give the students and staff about three weeks to bring everything in, and we send all the boxes of goods out before we go on Thanksgiving break. However, with everything starting later than expected, and not enough people aware of the event, we really ended up only having about a week and a half to collect all of the goods. A risk factor we encountered was that our time estimates were developed by backing into an established end date (Portny, et al, 2008, p. 386). In the past, the students contributed almost 500 non-perishable items in three weeks, so we were hoping to match or beat that. Unfortunately, we did not get the results we desired, and decided to extend the food drive until Christmas time. Here is where the project got stressful. After all, we basically just doubled the time allotted from our original plan! This would mean more work, and unexpected challenges.

Fortunately for our cause, the word started spreading, and goods were coming in. Unfortunately for me, I became the only contact for the food drive, and all of the goods ended up getting sent to my classroom. This caused much distraction for the students in my class, and took up quite a bit of space. My co-chair was absent due to sickness, and I knew I would have do  this by myself, and with the help of our Varsity Club members. By the end of the time allotted, we had over 1000 cans and boxes. Although this was a positive result, the stress of counting them at the last minute, finding the necessary help to get them counted, and the lack of space in my classroom due to the boxes of goods all contributed to the negative scope creep in our project. I ended up spending the afternoon before Winter break packing up boxes of goods to be sent out to the local churches, shelters and co-ops.

Greer, (2010) suggests to analyze variances, or deviations from the plan, by comparing the “estimated” to the “actual” time. If we had stuck to our original timeline, by starting on our originally planned date, and ending on time, the stress of the project could have been avoided. Another way that the problem could have been remedied was for the co-chair and me to consistently communicate about the progress of the project. Although we did deliver a positive result by being able to provide food and goods for needy families, the project could have gone much smoother, if we had stayed organized and stuck to our original plan. We have since learned from our mistake, and when we create a schedule, we stick to it, regardless of the number of goods collected. There are just too many other things going on at that time in the school year to allow ourselves the stress of extending the food drive. This prior planning and being consistent has been applied to all of our service and fundraising projects, and has worked much more smoothly.

References

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! Retrieved May 2, 2013 fromhttps://class.waldenu.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/USW1/201260_04/MS_INDT/EDUC_6145/Week%206/Resources/Week%206%20Resources/embedded/pm-minimalist-ver-3-laureate.pdf

Gurlen, S. (2003). Scope Creep. Retrieved May 2, 2013 fromhttp://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/6840_f03_papers/gurlen/

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.