Thursday, December 9, 2010

Week 6 - Analyzing Scope Creep

Assignment:  Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep. What specific scope creep issues occurred? How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time? Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

I was involved in a project a number of years ago in which my company decided to sponsor a couple of families during Christmas time. The intention was for employees to purchase presents for these two families, and then have a little party where we would give the families their gifts. All of the employees were enrolled in the project and promised to bring gifts. The date of the party was set and the interests and sizes of the family members were distributed. Two days prior to the date of the party, all employees were informed that the number of families “we” were now going to be sponsoring was six, not the original two, and we were “expected” to provide enough gifts for everyone. (scope creep) Most employees were aggravated with both the change in the number of families we were sponsoring as well as the late notice. Management did little to alleviate the concerns, but reiterated that there needed to be enough gifts for everyone. Result, come day of the party; there was not enough gifts for all family members. A few of the employees realized this, took up a collection and went shopping right before the party to get the rest of the gifts.

In retrospect, had I been in charge of this project, I would have a done a few things differently. One is if I wanted to expand the original scope from two families to six families, I would have informed all staff and gotten buy in from them. Second, very obvious, I would have given them enough notice to do the shopping they needed and to wrap the gifts. Another thing I would have done is created a sign up list for people to say what they bought and for whom, so we could manage that all family members obtained gifts and there were no duplicates. Finally, I would have requested all gifts were purchased and brought into the office by a certain date, so if we were short, it could have been dealt with immediately.

Looking back, I remember many of us (the employees) were inspired by the original project. We were excited to be part of a team making a difference for others. By the end of the project, although we knew we made a difference, we were annoyed and felt abused by the company because we felt pushed into spending more money than we originally anticipated. Scope creep definitely has an impact on both projects and people and consequently needs to be managed effectively.


  1. People do not always realize that the gift of giving does take some organization. We volunteer at the Salvation Army for Christmas and there are a lot of times when there are not enough gifts or people bringing gifts in at the last minute.

    The suggestions you made to make it better for the next time would help in so many ways. Having a sign up sheet is always good. It is like a potluck at church, you don't have a sign up sheet and you have 30 bags of chips and bowl of dip.

    Deadlines are also a good thing in order to make sure everything can be available, but also give you time if something is missing.

  2. Hello Marne,

    What a great thing for your company to do! :)

    Wow, that was a major chore to go from 2 to 6 family's with very little notice. I am sure that even with the 2 family's that this had to take some excellent organization in the coordination of the gifts, and from whom. It seems as though you and your colleagues did some quick thinking to give these family's a good Christmas despite the scope creep. I am sure that each of the family's were very grateful for you and your colleagues efforts.

    Kudos to you and your colleagues, Marne! :)

  3. Hello Marne,
    I'm sending some Holiday Greetings your way. That was a very nice thing for your company to do. Your example of scope creep comes with some bitter sweetness. Sweet in that you would be helping more families, but bitter in that the notice was so short. I'm wondering if the other 4 families were really added at the last minute, or if someone dropped the ball in updating the staff. Either way, I'm sure after you all gave to the families, all aggravation was lost. Your means of managing this type of scope creep are very sound. I think your idea of a sign up would greatly help in the future.

  4. Marne,
    Thank you for sharing the example of scope creep.
    Could have been a very embarrassing situation.

  5. Hello Marne,
    It's me still following you. Good luck this semester. We're almost there.

  6. Hi Marne,

    I just wanted you to know that I am following you! :-)

  7. By the way...I used my wordpress profile, so if you see oopik1971...This is Crystal