Week 6 Blog Assignment
Scope Creep in a Website Design Project
by James Landon
I recently approached our district Director of Curriculum and Instruction to suggest improvements to the “Curriculum” section of our district website. Standards and online resources needed to be re-organized, updated, and presented in a way that easily accessible for our teachers. She asked me to lead the project to re-design the site and I graciously accepted.
As I began the project and began analyzing all the material, I found mountains of information, some updated, some outdated, and some holes that needed material. Scope creep began here and suddenly exploded. In addition to simply updating and re-organizing the district standards by subject area, the project included the addition of Common Core standards and guidelines for teachers as well as instructional resources in every subject area. It was here that we found a massive amount of material and the organizational structure of the site was beginning to get out of control. Unfortunately, I readily admit, I was the main motivator and I actually pushed to increase the scope beyond what we had originally planned. I kept coming up with new ways to organize the material and every time we added a new section or area of the site, we needed to update the areas we had already finished to keep the format and organizational structure consistent across the site.
Looking back, I realize there were several reasons that scope creep was a problem in this project. First, we did not define the scope at the beginning of the project, in the SOW, for example. Portny et al. (2008) and Stolovitch (n.d.a) all explain that scope should be thoroughly defined as part of the SOW at the beginning of the analysis of the project. By determining the scope and putting it in writing, we would have had a barrier to block the scope creep when it manifested itself.
Next, I was driven by the determination to include everything in this project. Stolovitch (n.d.b) urges project managers to “avoid the desire to be perfect.” For me, every new resource meant additions on almost every page. Again, looking back, I should have followed Stolovitch’s (n.d.a) recommendations to prioritize tasks and be disciplined about the scope.
When it was clear the project was not going to be done quickly, the project team met and took two major steps to stop the scope creep and successfully complete the project. First, we set a firm completion date. This was another step we neglected to do at the beginning of the project. It was simply something we would complete soon, but no firm completion date. By setting a firm deadline for completion, our timeline fell into place. Next, we added more people to the team. Two new people were assigned to help transfer files, complete formatting and meet with SME’s to be sure all the content was accurate, updated, and appropriate. These steps allowed us to focus on the original objectives of the project and complete it quickly and successfully. Every time we considered new material or a resource that had the potential of creating scope creep, we quickly looked at the timeline and determined they would just have to wait.
The project is complete and the results are extremely positive. Sure, there are a number of things I would add and even more I would change to improve the site. However, the original objectives of the project were met and the project was successful because we finally set a timeline, defined the scope, and focused our work to get the job done.
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.
Stolovitch, H. (n.d.a). Project kickoff (week 1 resources). [Video]. Laureate.