“The natural tendency of the client, as well as the project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 436)
Scope creep is defined as “the natural tendency of the client, as well as the project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 436). I think the key words here are “natural tendency” as scope creep is something that is inevitable in almost any significant project. Perhaps this is due to projects not being thoroughly thought out before initiation or because team members and/or clients become more excited and actively involved as the project progresses. “Changes to the course may occur when course requirements are not properly defined, documented and controlled” (Lynch & Roecker, 2007, p. 96). Whatever the case, it is important for the project manager to stay focused on the goal as originally determined in order to not cause interruptions or delays.
I have had the “privilege” of working on a project that included a great amount of scope creep. I was asked to create a training presentation that would teach sales representatives how to promote a vacation package to a new resort in Myrtle Beach. The management team gave me brief details about the resort, qualifications, prices, dates the package was available, and deadlines. After asking a few questions, I began work on the design and development of the PowerPoint presentation. I worked diligently through the day and the next getting all of the slides to look uniform and to present the information clearly for the representatives. However, at the end of the second day, it was brought to my attention that we had added another resort and the available dates had been changed. I made the additions as quickly as possible and submitted the presentation to the manager for review. After showing the other members of the management team the work I had done, they had decided that they wanted all of the resorts at all of the locations presented in a similar fashion. A great time to give the presentation would be in two days when company executives would be visiting the call center. I was thrilled that my work was determined good enough to make such an important presentation, however it was never considered how much work would be involved. I worked day and night for the next two days ensuring that everything was perfect including the information, design, and handouts.
Everything in the training program ran smoothly and I was given many positive comments about my efforts. The presentation was incorporated into the new hire training program, was updated regularly, and was used for many years after its development. I was very proud of my work, however much of the stress I went through because of the various changes and additions to the project could have been alleviated. “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 347). The project manager could have been more willing to add other resources such as additional trainers to help with the development of the presentation or perhaps been more willing to incorporate the training in stages to decrease the amount of work to be completed in such a short amount of time. Clients and project managers often get excited about the end product and simply look at the final goal. It is important though that they sometimes take a step back and determine if the changes and/or additions are beneficial to the success of the project. “The problem is that clients may not know what they want the finished product to look like until the design project is nearly over, so they make last minute changes and then you’re loaded with an extra day’s work, but not an extra day’s pay” (Cass, 2012). As the workers on a project, we must be willing to speak up to our clients or our project managers and explain how the extra work will affect the project.
Cass, J. (2012, February 14). Scope creep-how to avoid, manage, and kill it. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from justcreative.com: http://justcreative.com/2012/02/14/how-to-deal-with-scope-creep/
Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery and management. London: Routledge.
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.