It was my husband’s birthday and we had planned a simple, but fun party. My first phase of planning this party was to define the scope, which is the boundary of what is included and excluded in the project (Gurlen, 2003). The scope of this project (i.e. birthday party) was as follows:
What project includes:
- There will be a theme for the party. It is a Mexican theme.
- There will be Mexican food, in keeping with the theme. The food will consist of one main dish and two side dishes.
- There will be some specific, pre-purchased decorations
- There will be a piñata at the end for the guests to break.
What the project will not include:
- There will be no alcoholic drinks.
- There will be no “goodie” bags.
- There will be no live bands.
What specific scope creep issues occurred?
I had communicated with my “helpers” to keep them in the loop of planning the party (Laureate Inc. a, n.d.). Everyone had been assigned their tasks and knew what to do. I had created a schedule to help me map out activities and allocate resources (Mindtools, n.d.). While looking around the party area, I decided that there were not enough decorations and sent my sister out to buy some more. This is the scope creep number one. Since my sister already had a task assigned to her, sending her to the store disrupted her timeline and caused a ripple across the project step of preparing for the party. She was involved with the food preparation; unfortunately, it was a dish only she knew how to cook. So, to make up for this, I changed out the dishes for the party. This new dish required different ingredients and some extra prep. Scope creep number two. When my sister returned with the new decorations, we discovered that they were a little more complex than just hanging up with tape. This now meant extra effort was diverted to put up the new decorations. Scope creep number three.
How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?
Although it sounds comical now, it was quite stressful back then. With just two hours before guests were scheduled to arrive, the decorations were still not complete and the food was not close to being ready. Since this was a problem that I could not solve alone (although I had pretty much created it), I did what Dr. Stolovitch recommends in this situation, and conferred with my team (Laureate Inc. a, n.d.). We devised a new plan and brought in extra resources. The birthday boy himself was made to hang decorations, which freed up my sister to help with the cooking.
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?
Of course, looking back now it seems clear that if I had not decided to change decorations, the birthday party preparations may have been a lot smoother. To avoid making that decision, I could have checked the decorations earlier, or consulted with my team to get their feedback prior to the day. Also, I could have designated some responsibility to other team members (Laureate Inc. b, n.d.) so that impacts to the timeline could be compartmentalized. Finally, in order to control the scope in general, I should have involved team members more in the decision making process. Their feedback could have acted as a gate to incurring scope creep.
Gurlen, S. (2003). Scope creep. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~sauterv/analysis/6840_f03_papers/gurlen/
Laureate Inc. a (n.d.). Monitoring projects. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6051999&Survey=1&47=7229053&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1
Laureate Inc. b (n.d.). Project management concerns: Locating resources. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=6051999&Survey=1&47=7229053&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1
Mindtools (n.d.). Project schedule development. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_71.htm