Scope creep is defined as “The natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the projects output as the project progresses”.
The first thing that came to mind when reading this chapter was a situation I was in almost eight weeks ago. I had ordered books as usual for my upcoming start. The books didn’t arrive until the day before classes were scheduled to start and students were expected to retrieve them. I opened the box of books and one of the books wasn’t even relatively close to the book I had ordered. I called the publisher to figure out how soon I could get the issue corrected and it could have been resolved within 72 hours however to me- that was too long. I decided to cancel that course and put the students into another course. Easy fix, right? Not so much. I cancelled the course and unregistered all students, then remember that I had already mailed the correct book to out of state students and they were mixed amongst the students that I had unregistered. I had to create a new version of the course, re-enroll those that had the correct book and locate another class for the other batch of students. Thankfully I considered how many students I can put in the course without exceeding our faculty to student ratio and considered a backup course in case the course was full or if a student had a transfer credit. I encountered a student with a transfer and the course was full before I knew it!
The initial course was going to be taught by the full-time instructor which isn’t an additional cost because the individual is on salary. The courses I transitioned the students into were taught by adjuncts which resulted in having to increase our budget because adjuncts are paid as needed and based on the number of students in their course.
When I think about scope creep, I think about the domino effect and how other aspects of a project or situation could be affected. As mentioned in Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects, “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible” (Portny, et al, 2008, p. 347).
At this point, I was willing to do anything to not allow my students to see me sweat. I mentioned the concern to senior leadership and they just asked me to fix it. I was able to do with only 24 hours but this could have been avoided had I planned or even considered that this could ever happen. “Project managers must expect change and be prepared to deal with it. Fighting change is not appropriate. The best approach is to set-up a well-controlled, formal process whereby changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible” (Portny, et al, 2008, p. 346).
A new term begins every 8 weeks so there’s a chance that this could happen again. Going forward, I will use the increased budget as a baseline because it can be considered poor planning when you exceed a budget. I will also consider having instructors on stand-by for back-up courses with smaller class sizes.
Thank you for reading,
Reference: 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.