Analyzing Scope Creep

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;

  1. To understand the project’s outcome.
  2. To be critical of the client (stakeholders)
  3. To clearly define the project’s scope of work
  4. To establish the right price for all projects deliverables, and
  5. To get everything down in writing.

 

References

Ewer. T https://blog.bidsketch.com/clients/preventing-scope-creep/

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

 

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

The Project Management tools for estimating cost and allocating resources I found most compelling and easy to use are;

  1. MS Project http://carstenknoch.com/2013/02/how-to-estimate-a-project-using-microsoft-project/
  2. Open Workbench http://www.flossnet.co.za/training-courses/project-management-training-using-open-workbench/14-uncategorised/29-open-workbench-and-ms-project-comparison

The major difference between the two aforementioned PM tools is that Open Workbench schedules based on effort whereas MS Projects default scheduling method is based on duration, although the user can change the method to work (effort). In other words, in an Open Workbench plan, task schedule is driven by the number of hours each resource will work per week to cover the total number of hours required for the tasks; whereas Microsoft Project does the reverse by generating estimates for the resources based on the task duration rather than their work availability.

 

References

Carsten K. (2013). How to estimate a project. http://carstenknoch.com/2013/02/how-to-estimate-a-project-using-microsoft-project/

Open Workbench and MS Project Comparison. http://www.flossnet.co.za/training-courses/project-management-training-using-open-workbench/14-uncategorised/29-open-workbench-and-ms-project-comparison

The Art of Effective Communication

The Art of Effective Communication

A review of three modes of same message content communicated via email, voice mail, and face to face (from Jane to Mark, Laureate, education) reveal varying implications for any project to achieve the desired success in terms of completion and outcomes, effective stakeholder communication (Taylor, 2013) is not only mandatory, but also pivotal to its (project) effective and efficient sustenance and delivery. According to Taylor, “without strong information flow projects can wither and die”. Perhaps one may conclude by saying that strong information is part of project life line. Thus, Stolovitch (Laureate education) submitted that “Ambiguity (of information in project) skills”.

Hence, ambiguity in communication is anathema to successful project delivery. Effective communication flow among project stakeholders must perhaps be premised upon clarity and specificity. Because according to Stolovitch (Laureate education, video) “communication that is clear, concise and focus helps people to stay on target and get job done”.

Whether a given communication is in the form of written message, voicemail, or even face to face for such message to be deemed effective, it must bear certain fundamental elements, which according to Stolovitch (Laureate, education) includes

  • Spirit and attitude of the sender as reveals in the message
  • Tonality and body language (of the sender)
  • The timing of the message
  • The recipient personality

However, Stolovitch maintained that the best form of communication is one done live and followed up with document (Laureate, education). That such written document must bear the following elements;

  • Clear purpose
  • The sender to state own position
  • State his/her (sender) position in respect to the project
  • State solution to the situation
  • Friendly tone
  • Body language the form of response you expect from the recipient, and
  • Include provision for sign up if necessary

Therefore, based on the foregoing stated elements of effective communication (Laureate, education), an analysis of the Jane’s message sent to Mark in the three stated modes can be analyzed to reveal the most effective among the three modes.

An Analysis of Jane’s message (in three modes) to Mark

A summary table of analysis is presented below to show how each mode meets the aforementioned best practices in communication.

Best practices for effective communication Email Voicemail Face to Face
Clear purpose of the message Stated Stated Stated
Specificity of request Not very specific Not very specific Impliedly specified
Sender’s position in respect to the project Stated Stated Stated
Solution to the issue Identified Identified Identified
Tone of the message Friendly Formal Very Friendly
Body language of the message ———– ———- Very friendly
Specific form of response required from the recipient Stated Stated Stated
Timing for response Vague Vague Vague
Provision for sign up Not provided Not provided Not provided

The above table analysis reveals the impact of each of the three communication modes which when evaluated can perhaps reveal the most effective of the three.

Evaluating the extent of best practices in each of the three modes

The email mode depicts general compliance to best practices except in specifying the recipient’s time of response as well as the sender’s (Jane) inability to be specific on the report required from Mark as well as the type of data needed.

The voicemail’s major shortfall beside the above stated (in the email) perhaps is sender’s tonality that seems to depict rigid formality as against friendliness in the sender’s tone.

The face to face encounter however reveals apparent friendliness by the sender as reveal by the sender’s tonality, spirit and body language towards the recipient.

In essence perhaps the face to face encounter pretends greater chances for effective communication because of its added advantages of being life communication with the recipient and can therefore reveal to the recipient true friendliness, respect and considerations of the sender through the physical attitudes of the sender as reveals in her or his general attitude towards the recipient, which include tonality, body language, friendliness, and respect. According to Stolovitch “Communication is best done live and follow it up with documentation” (Laureate, education).

Therefore, while the face to face communication mode is more preferable, the written mode must always supplement face to face for communication to achieve greater effectiveness as well as to archive the written message which is part of best practices required in project communication activities (Laureate education).

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Taylor, J. (2013). Elements of a Stakeholder Communication Plan. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubpm.com/project-planning/15148-elements-of-a-stakeholder-communication-plan/

Project Post-Mortem

A “project” Undertaken for School Fees Upward Review in K-12

It had not downed on me that what I hitherto regarded as just a simple event, (process of upward review of school fees in my school) was really a project in its own right, until I became opportune to be part of students of a project management course, where my hitherto world view of the term project will change forever.

Hence looking in retrospect I realized that project denote to any deliberate temporary undertaking with specified timeline aimed at producing result. Terziera, M & Morabito, V (2016, citing Lewis et al, 2000) defined project as “a temporary effort to create a unique product or service, and has a clearly defined starting and ending dates, a specific scope of work to be performed, a budget and a specified level of performance to be achieved”. And so not quite longtime ago my school initiated a process that lead to a one-day meeting whose purpose and objectives were to gain parents’ consent and other stakeholders’ to review upward by 20% the fees my school was charging in order to enhance and motivate the school’s manpower pool as well as to upgrade the school’s learning infrastructure, with a view not only to enhance teaching and learning, but also to improve on students’ achievements across disciplines and classes. Thus the highlight of the project scope and objectives include;

Objectives & Scope: to seek stakeholders consent to increase subsisting school fees by 20%.

Product: achieving Stakeholders’ consent on the upward review.

Reflecting in retrospect on the activities that took place during the meeting a mind map of the preparation and execution of the meeting is presented below;

project-post-mortem

Fig. 1 Mind Map of  Stakeholders Meeting.

Further reflection on the mind-map (Fig. 1) I realized that the school intuitively employed a matrix organizational structure (Portny et al, 2008), because in matrix organizational structure functional areas are demarcated with different managers and are align to work together in concert (p. 65). Thus, according to Portney et al, “Successful performance requires that these different areas work in concert to produce results that address peoples individual and collective needs” (p 65).

A post mortem of the project

No doubt, looking at the foregoing retrospection of the project reveal glaring lessons for the future similar or related event (Terzieva & Morabito, 2016). According to Terzieva, M & Morabito, V “A retrospective approach is when individuals learn from experience through remembering and analyzing what happened and discussing the consequences from situations that occured” (p 4). Therefore, the said project (or summoning stakeholders meeting for the upward fee review) revealed valuable insight and direction for the future.

The lessons from the project can be summarized as follows;

  1. The project was a total success and everyone in the project was proud for the success despite some hitches.
  2. Among the major hitches, seeking for permission and getting the approval from the education department was one of the most hectic challenges, it almost aborted the program (stakeholders meeting) due to bureaucratic bottlenecks manifested in delay feedback from same.
  3. To avert the reoccurrence of such delays in getting approvals, early interventions in the planning stage must be considered. Perhaps among such future interventions, will be the adaption of Bholar’s (1982) CLER Model to obtain early buy-in, which according to Morrison et al, (2013) by using the logical configuration and linkages among the various stakeholders, especially using one-on-one approach. According to Morrison et al, “Bhola (1982) Identified 16 possible configurations the most effective are those that are one-on-one” (p. 377).
  4. However, despite the initial hitches, the project was a success and the most gratifying moment was when the stakeholders approved unanimously the requested upward review with “immediate effect”.
  5. Perhaps what made the whole process effective and successful was the intense communication (Beach, L. R, 2006) with all stake holders.
  6. Rather than changing any of the processes the school would rather improve further on the communication process especially by employing and adapting Bholar’s (1982) CLER Model which seek to maximize the chance of realizing buy-in with all stakeholders through effective communication.
  7. And finally thanks to the efficient and effective preparations for the meeting, the turn up was highly impressive although additional effort through a purposeful and effective communication must be put in place to achieve even better stakeholder-turn up and participation.

References

Beach, LR (2006) Leadership and the Art of Change: A practical guide to Organizational Transformation. Sage Publications, London.

Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2). Reprinted by permission of the author.

Morrison, G.R, Ross, S.M, Kalman, H.K, Kemp, J.E (2013). Designing Effective Instruction (7th edition).

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.

Terzieva, M., & Morabito, V. (2016). Learning from experience: The project team is key Business Systems Research, 7(1), 1-15. DOI: 10.1515/bsrj-2016-0001.

Task and Content Analysis Matrix

Task and Content Analysis Matrix

TASK ANALYSIS GOALS & OBJECTIVES APPLIED STRATEGY
Content objective Strategy Initial presentation and generative, strategy time
Steps in Creating Tab:

1. Login

2. Create Course

3. Name & Describe Course

4. Submit

The course will appear as a new tab.

Upon seeing the module tabs the learner should; choose as to which tab he will want to open first

*select the appropriate tab

*click the tab to access the environment

Concept procedure Integration

Organization

Visual engagement:- Tabs to be well pronounced for easy location using appropriate fonts and color contrast

Cognitive engagement:- organize tabs in order of presentation by numbering them from 1 – 3

Kinesthetic engagement :- clearly indicate to user that the tabs should be clicked by including click here

Steps in Using the HTML Editor:

1. Login

2. Select course from my course module

3. Go to Content

4. Build Content

5. Define and Create Content

6. Submit

Welcome

Major goal;

Learner to identified self with the learning environment

Objectives:

Learner should continue to relate with the large environment

Learner

Welcome

attitudes

Recall Application elaboration Visual engagement:- video on utility and application of                   mathematic to every day problem (e.g. it YouTube link perhaps with narrated voice over

Cognate engagement:- quizzes on mental rehearsals on math utility

Kinesthetic engagement :- interactive activity during quiz

4minutes
Steps in Using the HTML Editor:

1. Login

2. Select course from my course module

3. Go to Content

4. Build Content

5. Define and Create Content

6. Submit

Overview

Learners to differentiate the different technology tools the will be using in their course.

Overview concept principles process Recall integrate organize elaborate Visual engagement: – video display of the various tools the students will use during their course, such as; learning environment where students will interact with the instructor and peers, and the procedure.

Coursesites

Online Quiz

Interactive PowerPoint Quiz

Video (screencast)

Cognitive engagement: – Power point presentation is highlighting the listed technology tools and functions to help in creating mental model.

Kinesthetic engagement; prompting students to respond by leveling the correct function of each initial presentation and generative, Strategy.

 

 

Steps in Using the HTML Editor:

1. Login

2. Select course from my course module

3. Go to Content

4. Build Content

5. Define and Create Content

6. Submit

Training

Course site: student will practice interactive discussion with peers in the course site learning environment

Mikos : student will set up wiki account and link up with course site using RSS feed

RSS feed : student will create RSS feed in their wikis to link up

Training interpersonal skill procedure concept principles Practice recall organization integration elaboration Visual engagement: – video tutorials on the use and purpose of each tools.

Coursesites

Online Quiz

Interactive PowerPoint Quiz

Video (screencast)

Cognitive engagement: – power point presentation shows step by step function and purpose of each technology tool.

Kinesthetic Engagement: – example student to create and manage their accounts at course site to engage in interactive learning activities.

5minutes per tutorial
Steps in creating learner access:

1. Login

2. Select Course

3. Users and Groups

4. Users

5. Manage

6. Enable Enrollment

Invitee access steps:

Register or directly enroll with coursesites ID.

Rationale for giving: – steps for learners to follow to get invited in to the course site environment for the interactive learning in the subject areas is to allow for easier participation in the learning environment for learning.

 

 

The online orientation for K-12 web facilitated asynchronous online mathematics course

The task and content analysis matrix underscores the goal of the aforementioned course is to address the difficulties the targeted learners encounter in comprehending the necessary conceptual knowledge in the identified problem are (equations) by creating interactive asynchronous online learning activities mediated by multifaceted interactions (Moore, 2013). This perceived learning experiences is underpinned by Moore’s theory of transactional distance, which “connote the interplay among the environment, the individual and the patterns of behaviors in a situation” (Moore, 2013, p 68, cited in Simonson, et al, 2015, p 43).

Thus, the student orientation seek to preempt the potential learners on the structure and supporting technological tools that will be employed in order to successfully deliver and achieve the necessary learning outcomes. Among the technology tools that this learning activities will employ include; i) course management system (CMS) – Coursesites, ii) interactive online quiz iii) video presentations and iv) interactive PowerPoint.

The orientation program will include tutorial training on how to use each of the aforementioned tools with a view to instilling the necessary confidence and skills in using such tools effectively for successful learning outcomes. The said tutorials have been designed by employing instructional best practices, underpin by enabling design principles bearing in mind; learner needs and dispositions (Morrison, et al, 2013), “A need assessment can help us avoid providing too much instruction when it is not necessary” (p 29). On learner characteristics, Morrison et al, submitted that “It is essential, therefore early in the planning process, to give attention to the characteristics; abilities, and experiences of the learner – both as a group and as individuals” (p 52). Other areas of instructional design considerations that the training reflect, which include; task analysis, learning objectives, sequencing and generative strategies (Morrison, et al, 2013), in teaching effectively. The affected “content objective categories” (Morrison et al, 2013), which the matrix therefore address include; fact, concept, principles, and rules, procedure, interpersonal skills, and attitude (p 115 – 116), which also the tutorials will give emphasis to during designing same.

The tutorials on the technological tools

The tutorials will be conducted on;

  • Coursesites: which is intended to avail learners with the various sections of this CMS and their utilities, since they will serve as the learning environment where instructor-learner, learner-learner and learner-content interaction will occur (Moore, 2013 cited in Simonson, et al, 2015). Video screen casting will be employed to guide and train learners on how to manage and utilize the learning environment.
  • Online Quiz is another chosen interactive technology tool that will be used during the learning activities in motivating and assessing learners. The tutorial will demonstrate to learners using video presentation how to employ it in their learning activities. The foregoing tool is accessed from geosci.ipfw.edu/gilder/PickNClick
  • PowerPoint interactive quiz, is another learning object which will serve two purposes; as presentation (using video and PowerPoint), and b) assessment (formative) of learners, retrieved from merlot.org
  • Video, is another interactive tool which will be used during mathematics interactive teaching and learning tutorials. The training tutorial for this tool will equally involve the use of short videos (3 -5 minutes). The technology tool was accessed at https://m.youtube.com/watch?r=3H385du

The orientation course will be premised upon the theory of transactional distance learning (Moore, 2013). Using interactive learning model of online collaboration (Pallof & Patt, 2005) which according to Pallof & Patt, “There are numerous ways in which an instructor can create collaboration online, regardless of the content being studied” (p 9), and they may include; small group assignment, research assignment, group work, simulations, shared facilitation, homework forums, asynchronous discussions, and paper posted to coursesites for mutual feedback (p 10).

In conclusion, the conceived orientation for the online interactive learning will adopt the transactional distance theory of online learning, employ instructional design best practices in designing the content of the training tutorials, which will focus on the selected technological tools; coursesites, online quiz, interactive PowerPoint and video, to ensure that learners eventually, remembers , apply, organize, and elaborate on the information, knowledge and skills learned during the tutorials.

 

References

Algebra Shortcut Tricks Video https://m.youtube.com/watch?r=3H385duSpA

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Palloff, R.M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pick and Click Web Quiz. geosci.ipfw.edu/gilder/PickNClick

PowerPoint Jeopardy Style Quiz. www.merlot.org

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Age publishing, Inc. charlotte, North Carolina.

 

 

Defining Distance Learning

Mind Map

From the outset, distance education (DE) as a concept depicts salient features with the propensity to overtime change or evolve which by implications will lead to changing or evolving definitions of the concept continuously. Hence, Simonson & Smaldino (2015) maintained that;

The term distance education has been applied to a tremendous variety of programs serving numerous audiences via wide variety of media. Some use print, some use telecommunications, and many use both. Finally, rapid changes in technology challenge the traditional ways in which distance education is defined.

Therefore, from my personal perspective of DE, prior to starting this course (Foundations of Distance Learning), was as follows; Continue reading