While the Scope of a project defines the work that will be done during and the intended results of the project, Portny et. al. (2008) defines scope creep as “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (Pg. 436). When I first read that definition it sounds so benevolent compared to the proverbial wrecking ball that scope creep can truly be in a project. I mean how could want to ‘improve’ a project’s output be bad? Well as stated by Sharma (2010) “Scope creep leads to providing the client more at the expense of project resources and project budget” (Para. 2). In 2010, my department, physician education, was tasked with updating a web based course geared toward physicians and residents for a software implementation for one of the network hospital facilities. At the time, since it was supposed to be just an update to existing materials, I was the only resource allocated to the project from an education standpoint. Within the first couple of weeks of meeting with the ever expanding number of subject matter experts, two things had become crystal clear: this was NOT going to be a simple education update and I was in WAY over my head. During the course of the project, the scope grew to include a complete redesign and additional lesson development for the course and development of a robust assessment featuring questions pools and scenarios. The project also ended up including classroom training and development of superuser training for nursing, education normally handled by a completely different department! The department also ended up supporting 24 hour coverage go-live weekend in addition to a slew of catered help sessions in a new physician lounge that we were expected to cover. As the director of my department did not want to be perceived as a non-team player, the department was just forced to adjust. The department brought in two instructional design consultants to assist with the design of content and contract developer for development and database management. By the end of the project, the department’s staff was so overworked that the director decided to give us all a paid day off.
If I had it to do over and was in a position of power, I would have paid more attention to the initial project scope and analysis phases of the project and looked at the educational and support needs of historical implementations. Many of the support measures, such as the instructor lead sessions, took many resources to develop and support but were hardly used. I would have also developed a better communication and change management process to be able to communicate issues and then quickly find solutions to address them. For example, the 24 hour go-live support that my department provided was hardly utilized at all as IS was also providing rounders for OJT and a 24 hour command center for support. There was no need for both departments to provide go-live support. Not only did this serve to further fray already shredded nerves, it was a complete waste of resources.
Managing Scope Creep and Scope Changes in Project Scope Management. (2010, Sept. 10). Retrieved 12 6, 2012, from Bright Hub PM: http://www.brighthubpm.com/project-planning/51868-managing-scope-creep-and-scope-changes-in-project-scope-management/
Portny, S. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.