Scope Creep

In my job, I work on a team that develops training for the management team to make their teams more effective. We do not deliver the training, we only develop it for the managers to deliver. Each year we propose a training plan which will focus on topics that have been suggested by the management team. Our team of three Instructional Designer/Project Managers has only been in place for two and a half years and in the first year we learned a great deal about scope creep (though we wouldn’t know to call it that).

The first year we proposed a plan for developing training which involved each level of management. However, when we presented the plan we presented it only to the senior management who would sign off on the overall concept. We then took what was approved by the Senior leadership and began implementing our well thought out concept. The major issue was that we did not present to the other manager who would be a great influence on the success or failure of the project.

As the implementation of the project began, we started getting a lot of push back from managers on the amount of time it was requiring of them and their people. They didn’t like the classroom format of the training and wanted it to be more computer based to keep them from having to spend so much time training and not enough time coaching their people. This first bit of scope creep involved our team conducting trainings to alleviate the manager’s time. However, the feedback continued that the live session were taking up too much of their employees time. Thus we took the training and developed an e-learning course which took a good deal of time and effort and changed the projects scope completely for the rest of the year.

In the end, the scope creep from this first major project taught us that communication across the organization and with all those who will be involved in the project from top to bottom must be included from the beginning. Because we only included the senior leaders, those who were at the floor level were immediately frustrated and saw issues that senior leaders wouldn’t see because they are not in the midst of the action on a day to day basis. It is communication that will make or break a project. When communication is done well, scope creep can be minimizes. However, with little communication comes a major amount of scope creep which will break a project down quickly if not managed.