Thursday, December 5, 2013

Analyzing Scope Creep

This week we were to post about any personal or professional experience that may have resulted in an expansion of the scope of a project- which is known as scope creep. When I worked as a neuropsychiatric technician at the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, California, the head of my department –Dr. X., wanted to use biofeedback as a treatment option for the military members and their families. There were two other technicians besides myself who were chosen to be on the biofeedback team.

I was tasked with finding and comparing biofeedback systems that came with what Dr. X wanted and yet stay within budget. I had narrowed the systems down to the three that were within the price range and that met the requirements that Dr.  X had requested.  When we sat down to finally pick a system, Dr. X wanted to know if perhaps we could get more programs and maybe even an extra system at a discounted price.

Though I didn’t show it on the outside I became very frustrated. In the prior meetings I thought we had decided on what we needed for the program and that was that. Dr. X and I discussed this issue and he was adamant in what he wanted. This is one of the most common forms of scope creep: when a stakeholder or team member decides to include deliverables that weren’t originally planned as part of the project. It is impossible to avoid scope creep, but it can be controlled to a certain extent. Portney, Mantel, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer (2008) suggest:  

·        Include a change control system in every project plan.
·        Insist that every project change is introduced by a change order that includes a description of the agreed-upon change together with any resulting changes in the plan, processes, budget, schedule, or deliverables.
·        Require changes be approved in writing by the client as well as by a representative of senior management.
·        Amend and update all project plans and schedules to reflect the change after the change order has been approved.
As for the biofeedback machines, I got the extras that Dr. X wanted and only went slightly over budget. In the end everything worked out, we got the biofeedback machines, and the other technicians and I even got week and a half of training on the new systems in San Francisco.

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.