Analyzing Scope Creep

According to Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008), “Scope Creep” is the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses.” I experienced scope creep when I was trying to implement a new Staff Development online portal for my school system. This system would allow teachers and paraprofessionals to enter leave requests, field trips and fund raising request online and also track their professional development hours.

When the project started, there were many basic reports that were already built I, however as I started implementing and entering all of the data I soon realized that there were many improvements that could be made to make the project more user friendly and tweak it more for the needs of the users.

As each step of the project was implemented, I asked for changes that I thought would be beneficial which only delayed the project. We finally agreed to just go ahead and implement the program so that we could use it and make the changes after the fact. The bad part of this is that after three years, I’m still waiting on some changes to forms and reports that I use on a daily basis.

Scope creep is sometimes unavoidable, according to Portny, et al (2008); however, the impact of the pain scope creep causes can be reduced if monitored and controlled.

Referencescope_creep%2520pic

Portny, S., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., Sutton, M., & Kramer, B. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

This week our assignment was to find two resources that would be beneficial in estimating the costs, effort and/or activity durations associated with ID projects. “Project managers must develop budgets in order to obtain the resources needed to accomplish project objectives. Often, project managers are required to prepare project budgets in order to receive the go-ahead from top management to proceed with projects” (Portny et al, 2008). In my search efforts, I found the following resources:

Bright Hub – Bright Hub is a great resource that was created to speed up the workflow. They have built in templates with calculations already set up to assist in the development of the project budget. The Excel templates have three different pages:

An Overall Project Budget Page that accounts for all income and expenses associated with the project.

A Monthly Project Budget Page that accounts for expenses and is broken down by months

A Task Project Budget Page that breaks down the budget by task and category

These templates are basic and seem very easy to use. Each template has information provided to give the user a brief overview of what items should and should not be included in the budget.

Project Management for Instruction Designers – This website is a great resource to refer to when first starting out. It is actually an online book that was tailored specifically for instructional designers. Chapter 8 talks about Project Time Management and Chapter 9 is a great resource for Project Costs and Budgeting. I like this resource because it basically takes you from the beginning of a project to the very end.

Amado, M., Ashton, K., Ashton, S., Bostwick, J., Clements, G., Drysdale, J., Francis, J., Harrison, B., Nan, V., Nisse, A., Randall, D., Rino, J., Robinson, J., Snyder, A., Wiley, D., & Anonymous. (DATE). Project Management for Instructional Designers. Retrieved from http://pm4id.org/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA) license.

Levine, R. (2011). Use our excel project budget template to simply your life. Retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com/office/project-management/articles/75727.aspx

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

Communicating Effectively

“We send approximately 100 to 300 messages a day. These include messages we intend to send; the messages we actually send; and the message as the hearer interprets it; the response of the hearer based on what he or she heard; and our reaction to the exchange of words, meaning and interpretation” (Franck & McCastskill, n.d.). For this week’s blog, we were asked to interpret a message that a coworker received in three different modes: email, voicemail and face-to-face.

Email Email-Icon1

Jane began her email to Mark just as Dr. Stolovitch stated, with a clear purpose that stated the situation (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.). She needed some of the data that Mark had in his report to complete hers by the deadline. She asked him simply for the data that she needed and her email seemed to be fairly clear.

Voicemailgoogle-voice-icon

The tone of Jane’s voice in the voicemail she left for Mark was formal and her language was simplistic (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.).  Even though she showed her appreciation for the work he was doing, it seemed like she was frustrated in not having the information that she needed to meet her deadline.

Face-to-Face5473-logo-copy

Jane’s face-to-face conversation with Mark was more informal and didn’t seem as urgent as both the email and the voicemail.

Influential Factor

In my office, I send and respond to emails the most in order to communicate with my co-workers. By doing so, sometimes the messages can be misinterpreted. By communicating face-to-face with someone, instantaneous response can be received and misinterpretation that often happens with written communication can often be eliminated. I interpret communication by someone’s tone. According to Stolovitch, written communication should include five things (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.).:

  1. Begin with a clear purpose
  2. State the situation
  3. Include possible solutions
  4. Specify the form that the response is required to take
  5. Keep the tone of all communications business friendly and respectful

In this example, I would have to say that the email used the best communication approach. The email that Jane sent to Mark best conveyed her message and comprised all 5 of the elements in the above list. It is a written document that can be used later if needed.

Communication is a vital took when working with a team. Project managers should be able to effectively communicate with all of the members of their team. If communication is lacking and not constructive, the project will also be lacking.

References:

Franck & McCastskill, (n.d.). Effective communication. Retrieved from http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/pdfpubs/6103.pdf

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders. [Video webcast]. Retrieved from: https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_549170_1%26url%3D

Project Post Mortem

Several years ago I was asked to review several online professional development programs along with the Assistant Superintendent to determine which program would be most beneficial to the paraprofessionals in our school district. In Georgia, teachers and paraprofessionals have to complete 100 hours of training within a 5 year period of time to renew their certificates. The two of us reviewed several programs and picked the one we thought would be most beneficial to those that had to use it. These teachers and paraprofessionals were to use this program on designated staff development days or on their own time to get their needed training hours.

In my opinion, and now looking back at this project, I can see that we did not handle it the proper way. First, we should have analyzed the needs of the users. We should have sent out surveys or met with them to see how familiar they were with the technology required, what type of professional development classes they felt would help them the most on the job, and their preferred way of learning – online or lecture.

We decided on one program and then held a “train the trainer” session with one person from each school with the intentions of that person being able to redeliver to their co-workers and be able to support them when needed. The trainers went back to their schools and briefly went over the new program in a staff meeting. Employees had no idea how to sign on, how to sign up for specific classes or how to complete the process to get the credits. It would have been a good idea to have the employees from each school system in a computer lab and let them actually have some hands on experience with the program at the beginning. This would have alleviated many problems and questions during the process.

The program turned out to be a waste of time and money on our part. Very few employees took advantage of the online classes and many felt that we were forcing them to work on their off-time. I am in the process now of conducting surveys to see how I can serve their needs and make on-line classes more appealing to them. I plan to design a few courses on Blackboard that will offer specialized training with videos and interactive presentations. I am also planning to create either a step by step powerpoint or video that will explain how the program works so that it can be viewed as many times as needed.