Scope creep (Weinstein, 2015) as a concept is a recurring theme in project management which is a “watch word” during project delivery. Therefore according to Weinstein (2015) “scope creep is a key challenge trainers who are not yet experienced in project management may fall prey to”.
Incidentally some few years back I personally experienced the consequences of what I now believed to be scope creep during delivering my school’s rehabilitation project where I erroneously entertained “nice to have” as against “need to have” in the process of the project’s delivery which at the end of it all, the project gulped additional over 50% of the initial cost anticipation, in addition to time overrun” and finally I was left with unfinished job.
It all began with sitting with some of the school’s key stakeholders where we decided to carry out some rehabilitation work in the active classrooms (25) involving floor tiling and re painting of same, as well as doing the same for the administrative office. After inviting the contractor and briefing him on our needs (verbally) an initial estimate was calculated and the school agreed to the total cost involved (verbally).
However as the rehabilitation project progresses, we (clients) became so carried away by the new changing face of the school and all of a sudden we began to add on the rehabilitation plan to include classrooms that are not in use, refurbishing of all classes furniture as well as extending the rehabilitation scope to include the schools external environment. And by the time the revised bill of the rehabilitation exercise was brought to us, we realized that the project cost has increased by more than 50% of the original cost. Not only that, the estimated time of completion has more than doubled creating serious problems of managing schooling in the midst of ongoing rehabilitation work that refuse to end.
And to further compound the situation the school runs out of money to complete with rehabilitation of furniture for all the classes, leading to inadequate sitting materials across the classes.
How did the stakeholders dealt with the scope creep issue
Well the first reaction was that of surprise and after realization of the cost implication the stakeholders immediately called for the outright stoppage of the project to arrest the possibility of continued rising cost of the project and so the school was forced to grapple with uncompleted project.
What Could I have done then to manage the project?
I am sure without having any informed project management knowledge as it were as of that time, I would not have done any better than the stakeholders. However, now that I am armed with some informed humble knowledge on project management skills, I will certainly approach the project in a completely different approach.
The informed Approach
However with the new knowledge and skills that I now possessed, if I were to handle a similar project, I will definitely approach it differently. I will make sure that I employed the project management processes throughout the project’s life cycle (Portny et al, 2008) which comprises of;
Project’s Conceiving Phase: To understand the needs for the project undertaking (is it to allow for increase in school fees and by what extent?). I should also participate actively in brain storming session with all the key stakeholders.
Project’s Definition Phase: To define clearly the scope of the work, project objectives and so forth and have all signed by the client (stakeholders).
Project’s Startup Phase: To establish project’s cost, resources, schedule, timeline, and provide for contingency.
Project’s Performance Phase: To effectively monitor, control, review and communicate effectively with team members as well as stakeholders.
Project’s Close up Phase: To ensure project completion and sign-off.
Hence according to Tom Ewer, (Blog posting) to avoid project scope creep project manager must observed five essential requirements;
- To understand the project’s outcome.
- To be critical of the client (stakeholders)
- To clearly define the project’s scope of work
- To establish the right price for all projects deliverables, and
- To get everything down in writing.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: You can’t win them all [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
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.
Weinstein, M. (2015). The accidental training manager: trainers often have to do more than design and facilitate successful training programs–they have be effective project managers as they oversee the overall process. 52(3). Retrieved from https://trainingmag.com/trgmag-article/accidental-training-manager