Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep.
Some years ago I was involved in a pilot initiate to implement workstations in our literacy program. The ideas behind this initiative was that a few low income Title I schools would begin implementation in their classroom the first year, with other schools joining in on subsequent years. These literacy workstation activities were centered on state standards and content in their current literature adoption. In other words, our school district wanted us to create literacy workstation activities that correlate with the stories in the current literature series. These literacy workstations would be in the areas of vocabulary, phonics, comprehension, and technology. Each workstation area would have an activity that required student’s work sequentially on three standard and content related assignments, including a reflection and/or self-assessment. Each school within the piloted program was given a unit within the literacy series to focus on. Teachers were expected to create these workstation activities and were compensated for their time spent creating these activities.
What specific scope creep issues occurred? How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?
In this case the project was improperly or insufficiently defined resulting in confusion or roles and expectations. The project eventually grew beyond its original anticipated size. Scope creep is defined as “ the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improves the projects output as the project progresses” (Portny, et al., 2008). The expectations about such things format and quality were never discussed. Teachers were just given the above parameters and a due date and were expected to create successful products. Teachers were left to manage themselves within grade-level teams to complete the project. Even within each grade level teachers were working individually on their “lesson”, which would entail creating activities for all four workstation areas. There wasn’t much collaboration going on. Another issue that arise here is just that: teachers attempting to create effective lessons alone, without help or support from a SME. Teachers are educations but not curriculum writers. Within grade level teams, teachers were attempting to gather together to discuss such things are quality and project uniformity. But we soon found that those things were even different among each grade level. There was no school uniformity and as a direct result no district uniformity. One of the goals of this project was that after the creation of these resources, teachers would have a bank of resources that followed the literacy program and wouldn’t have to create their own or search endlessly for lesson plans. One of the problems was that works done by some teachers were poor quality work.
Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?
“Since scope creep is a major cause of cost and time overrun, the project manager must control changes to the project charter and project scope by following the change management plan created during the planning stage of the project” (Lynch & Roecker 2007). Scope creep is likely if the project manager fails to perform sufficient thorough planning and monitoring to ensure that the project is accomplishes the objective, is completed on time, and budget. One of the first things I would do as a project manager is assemble a meeting with all curriculum specialists from each selected school to discuss project expectations. In this meeting we would create a scope statement. This will assist in managing stakeholder expectations. All curriculum specialist will sign off on this documents agreeing that they are aware of the scope and expectations of the project and that they project will not go beyond the agreed upon scope. The curriculum specialist will then conduct similar meeting with each grade level within their school and also create a school/grade level scope statement, which would be an extension and slight modification of the original created and signed off at the district level. There would also be frequent monitoring and check points to adhere to timelines and provide support as need. This should also be done and the district and school level.
Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Sutton, M. M. (2008) Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.