Archive for April, 2015

When working on a project it is impossible to avoid a certain level of scope creep. Scope creep is “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the projects output as the project progresses (Portny et al., 2018, p. 346). It is important to any project to have a formalized process for dealing with scope creep, without this process in place you may find you have extended the scope of the project without the time or resources to be successful (Portny et al., 2008).

I will pull from personal experience to discuss scope creep and how it can impact the outcome of projects. I have an older home, I am slowly working to remodel. The basement is used primarily for storage, with the exception of the laundry room. My home is less than a mile from a lake, resulting in a high water table in the Spring. My basement has a sump pump to keep the basement from flooding. Last Spring, the sump pump stopped working and the basement was flooded with 6 inches of water. This resulted in the items that were not stored in plastic storage bins getting damaged. I quickly replaced the sump pump, drained the water, and set up fans to dry everything out. However, there was substantial damage.

So here were the goals of my project:

  • Sort everything that was damaged
  • Dispose of damaged items (rented a large dumpster)
  • Organize and store all non-damaged items in plastic bins
  • Set up a space that could be used for weather emergencies (I live in Tornado Alley)

Saturday morning arrived and the group assisting took a tour of the basement. As a group we discussed the options of the best way to accomplish the task. I did highlight I would supervise the project making the determination of what could possibly be saved and make notes of items that would have to be replaced.

It was decided to bring everything damaged into the front yard, this way it could be sorted, determined if it was going to be disposed of, if it could be donated, or if I was going to keep. This seemed like a great idea to get everything out, send in a few folks to finish the clean-up in the basement, and then have a nice clean place to restore any items I was keeping.

In a short period of time, I started sorting in the front yard. I realized that many of the items that were being brought out had no damage, but were not in plastic bins, this should have been my first clue that scope creep was happening. Instead of stopping and checking on what was going on in the basement, I continued to sort into the three categories (discard, donate, keep), with the stuff I was putting into the discard pile being hauled to the dumpster, the donate pile was being boxed, and the keep category was being sorted for repacking into plastic bins. This went on until about lunch. After we had lunch, I thought it would be a good time to see the progress and determine if everyone would be needed on day two. As everyone was eating, I headed to the basement. To my shock, the entire basement had been emptied into the front yard, or directly to the dumpster (which was on the route from the basement to the front yard). This included all of the items I had already stored in plastic bins.

Because I was so involved in the actual process of sorting, I lost track of the overall progress and direction of the project.

My friends (project team members) it would be great to empty and clean the entire basement, installing shelves in one of the rooms for the storage bins to sit on, and a different room used to set up all of my tools used for remodeling my home. I could have said no to the shelving, I did not, as I had thought of installing some in the future. I understood the logic of completely emptying the basement for cleaning and reorganizing after everything was sorted. So it made sense they were trying to improve the project and had logical and valid reasons, however, it was not in the original plan.

While I appreciated them looking long term, this required more resources: purchase of shelving, more storage bins, and extending the timeline to set up the shelving, and a thorough cleaning of the entire basement instead of just the areas where the damaged items had been stored. I figured since I had the help, free of charge, it would be nice to get it all done at once, not realizing this was going to be a BIG mistake.

By the midpoint of the project (Sat night), the cleanup was completed, and half of the shelving was set up. The sorting was going slower than anticipated, partly because the sorter (me) spent time buying the needed materials. I was still hopeful we would be able to complete the project by Sunday night, if I concentrated on the sorting on Sunday.

Sunday dawned with clear skies and a comfortable temperature for working outdoors. Everyone arrived and picked up where they had left off on Saturday night. I started on sorting, the shelving was in the process of being completed, donated items were boxed as they were sorted, and the items to be kept were categorized and put in plastic bins. At lunch, I took another survey of the progress. Here is where I noticed that the dumpster had far more materials in it than I had sorted. I asked what had been put in the dumpster, and I was informed anything that had substantial damage was just dumped in the dumpster as is was brought out of the basement and did not go through the sorting process. Therefore, I had lost sight of anything I lost without the benefit of knowing what it was or if I would need to replace.

To compound the problem about an hour after lunch, it got very windy and started to rain, not uncommon in the Midwest. About 30% of the items from the basement were sitting in the front yard about to be soaked by a torrential downpour. So a quick thought contingency plan….what to do with the stuff on the front lawn….

Option 1: Cover it with tarps.

Pro: It would stay mostly dry.

Con: It would still be there on Monday and I would be at work, possibility of being stolen.

Option 2: Take it back to the basement.

Pro: It would be dry and unable to be stolen.

Con: It would be back where it could be further damaged by a flooded basement, it would not get sorted, and it would have to be hauled back downstairs and back upstairs for sorting in the future.

Option 3: Put in in the third bedroom.

Pro: It would be dry, unable to be stolen, more accessible for sorting than in the basement, and it could be stored there quicker than in the basement.

Con: Having the time to sort.

These options quickly ran through my mind as the rain continued to intensify. I decided on Option 3. It was a mad dash to move the items from the front yard to the third bedroom (fortunately, this room is used sparingly). In addition to the items still needing to be sorted, the items marked for donation needed to be moved inside as well. I decided it would be easier to move them all to this room.

The move of the items to this room went very quickly, but was not very organized. I am still working through sorting these items, still finding random boxes mixed in I need to donate. I continue to work on this project on breaks between classes. I hope to have this completed in the near future.

The lessons I learned from this project and in taking this course. I needed a better communication plan from the start (Portny et al, 2008). I needed to clearly outline the tasks that were to be done, defining the scope, and limiting my helpful friends to keeping focused on the task at hand and not on what would be the best overall process (Portny et al., 2008). I should have said no in a firm but kind manner to adding the shelving (Laureate Education, n.d.). In addition, I should have had a contingency plan for the weather. I probably should have limited the amount of items that were brought up at any one time to be sorted. In addition, I could have delegated some of the sorting and tracking of lost items to a trusted member of the team after clearly defining my expectations and need to track the lost items (Laureate Education, n.d.).

I look forward to working on personal and professional projects in the future. With the knowledge learned in the course, I am confident the projects will be better planned and have a much higher potential to be successful.

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [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.

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