Developing a Common UnderstandingDuring 2012, I was tasked with a project to implement blended learning using Blackboard© in all of my district’s Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classrooms. In my mind, this sounded like a simple matter of showing the teachers how to add content to an online course. The scope creep issues occurred in two separate categories as I began to analyze the project and develop the process for implementation.
Scope Creep of Expectations
I had no idea how to plan a project of this size. A month was spent meeting with my direct report, the executive director charged with completing this project. The executive director had a vision, but did not have the means to articulate all the phases and details in our initial meeting. Several meetings were needed to truly develop the scope of the project, and in-between each of these meetings I had to research and design documents to determine if my understanding matched the vision. During each meeting we went over the documented process determined during the previous session and then the executive director would add or change the process. This was a frustrating experience because I did not understand that this phase is a natural part of the project planning process (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). Although this was not technically scope creep in the traditional sense, it nevertheless created the same effect upon the expectations and plans for the project.
Scope Creep of Project
Due to a lack of project management practice in my project, scope creep occurred in several areas and was difficult to prevent because there was no written documentation of the agreed upon project scope and project plan. All I had was a process outlining how teachers would be trained to become blended teachers and the deadlines for completion. Scope creep happened in the following ways:
· The list of teachers changed continually throughout the project. This meant that I was constantly adding new people for which I was responsible to train, but then others were dropped and I did not know they were no longer a member of the training group.
· A principal in one of the schools wanted their entire school moved into blended learning. This created an issue in that I was unable to support the extra numbers as effectively as the group that my direct report was held accountable for.
· The project began as one for training but became one of technical support in the system as the additional teachers overloaded our miniature Blackboard© support staff. There was not a clear method for handling technical issues.
In dealing with the issues, I learned some valuable strategies for damage control and prioritization. However, from the study of project management I have learned better strategies to prevent these issues in future projects and found a great rap that synthesizes the practical experience I have gained.
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.