“A project is primarily based on how well he/she manages the project’s triple constraint (project scope, cost, and time)” (Hans, 2013).
This week I am charged with writing about either a personal or professional circumstance that involved scope creep. In the following blog, I will briefly outline the project I was involved in, what scope creep issues occurred, and better ways management could have controlled the issues.
A few years ago I worked on a project that installed communication racks into military vehicles. Our project outsourced a few companies to create rack sleds and manufactured cables for the communication systems. Before the outsourced company began to make the gear we had requested to be made, our company built and tested a sled and requested cable to ensure the gear would properly fit and work before buying mass quantities to be made. After our engineer department tested the cable, the government wanted to change the design and cable length. Unfortunately, our company did not notify the outsourced company. The cables and sleds were produced, delivered, and then sat on the project’s shelves for a few years. Once it became time to field the sleds and cables, this issue hit our project square in the face. Needless to say, huge amounts of money and time were wasted and we could not produce when required. Kuprenas & Nasr (2003) state, Total cost management of a… project requires control of costs through all phases of a project, including the design phase”.
The first thing I thought of when I heard of the severe issue was, who is accountable? Portny et al. (2008) states, “Project success requires that project managers can count on the help promised to them by the people throughout the organization”. During the design and modifications of the sleds and cables, a couple of factors contributed to the scope creep. First the government decided it wanted to change the length and design of the cable, which ultimately changed the cost and timeline to produce the cables. Secondly, after the changes were made, the communication breakdown between government representatives and the engineer department contributed to the sleds and cables continuing to be made to the specifications of the original design. Lastly, after the gear was made and shipped, the QA and Technician departments did not test the cables.
It is easy to say now what should have happened when the government requested to change the design. The first thing that should have happened was the PM should have been notified immediately so he could have built the scope creep into an adjusted project plan. Bellenger (2003) states, Contact the client immediately if the scope changes during the project, explain why it is needed and why it is outside the original scope of services, and request written permission to proceed”. “In order to meet project plan goals, the PM needs help from multiple project team members (Portny et al., 2008). If the PM had been notified immediately, he could have redirected resources and personnel to drive the change thus meeting the costs and timeline.
Bellenger, L. G. (2003). Avoiding scope creep protects the bottom line. ASHRAE Journal, 45(10), 58. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220432044?accountid=14872
Hans, R.T. (2013). Work breakdown structure: A tool for software project scope verification. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1308/1308.2876.pdf
Kuprenas, J.A. & Nasr, E.B. (2003). Controlling design-phase scope creep. AACE International Transactions. 1
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.