Project Management and Scope Creep

A project manager must be prepared and anticipate changes or last minute unexpectancies.  Even an excellent project manager, however, will be dealt with unlikely events or changes during the course of the project design that will often times cause scope creep.  “Project managers have been plagued by scope creep since the dawn of project management. Managing scope creep in project management is a challenging job that needs clearly defined, documented and controlled specifications.Scope creep – also known as feature creep, focus creep, creeping functionality and kitchen-sink syndrome – can sneak up, morph and destroy a project” (University Alliance, N.D.).

I was faced with a challenging project when I coached a Odyessey of the Mind team. The members of the team were seven boys, ages 10 through 12. The boys had chosen their problem for the competition and we had all agreed upon meeting times and commitments. I had factored in costs for the supplies to build the structure in order to practice the problem. Each member of the team had a different responsibility that was important towards solving the problem for the competition. A few weeks before our regional competition, I had a team member who found out he was moving. Due to the rules and regulations of Odyssey of the Mind, if a team member drops out of the team, they are not able to be replaced. This meant we had to go to competition with one less team member and basically restructure our problem. The scope of the problem the team was solving would change and jobs would have to be modified in order for it to work. We had been working together on this problem for almost eight months. I began to scramble for ideas on modifications and realized I would have to spend more money on the project than anticipated and we would need to meet as a team at least three times a week in order to complete the changes to prepare for competition.

I honestly had not anticipated this and was not prepared for the changes that occurred due to losing a team member. I should have been more prepared and anticipated changes such as these in the beginning. “Even when there’s a clearly defined project scope, you still have to beware of scope creep. This phenomenon generally tends to occur when new features are added to product designs that have already been approved, without providing equivalent increases in budget, time and/or resources” (University Alliance, N.D.).

http://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/project-management-scope-creep/

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5 Comments

  1. Krista,

    That sounds like an uncontrollable circumstance. I have found that understanding that there are things that we can not control. Portny (2008) states that an project manager can not say no to change. This statement helps me realize that change will need to occur. It is inevitable. When it does happen and I am not responsible for the cause of the change, that understanding takes some pressure off of me.

    The reality is that I need to facilitate the change. It sounds like you were able to pull it off.

    Reference

    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.

  2. Krista,

    What you experienced is in my own belief the worse type of scope creep that can happen. It was a sudden change which you could not have adequately prepared for or had a back up plan for because as you said if a team member leaves it is against the rules to replace them. Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007) state that “Scope control involves trying to control changes to project scope when that is possible and managing changes when they must occur” (p. 96). So what you did with the changing of the schedule and spending more money is exactly what some Project Managers may need to do sometimes. There will be times when we will need to bite the bullet and accept an uncontrollable change and fix it as best we can with the resources available. It is a scary thought but at the same time if we take time to think about the situation we can always find a workable solution.

    Reference

    Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management. London: Routledge.

  3. Krista,

    It sounds like your situations is one of the worst there is. When you have a major factor change like that it ruins the team dynamic. I mean, what do you say to something like that; no you can’t move. Even though it was a devastating blow to the team pressing forward was the only option. Keep moving forward comes to mind. The teat of a PM’s metal is to be able to overcome the most harsh changes to the project.

    Eric

  4. Krista,
    This sounds like one of the worst problems within the scope of the project. It also sounds like you managed it well. It is difficult to plan for a team member quitting. This also sounds like a situation where you learn from prior knowledge!

  5. Hi Krista,

    I did not see any new post to leave this in so I chose the newest post you had made. I was surprised to see my old comment above, I feel like that was years ago! Well anyway, I will be following your posts for EIDT 6510.

    Daniel J

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