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Analyzing Scope Creep

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

We recently hosted conferences for almost 2,000 individuals without a complete project plan. As a result, the scope grew and so did the price tag. There were travel costs, food, we double booked – and had to pay for audiovisual resources. You name it, we experienced it. However Van Rekom (nd) indicated saying “no” could mitigate creep. Unfortunately I work in a culture where we don’t say no.

Additionally, the objectives for this conference were not commonly agreed upon and there were several suggestions for procedures and activities outside the original objective.

While I agree change control systems can help a project manager monitor scope creep, I also believe beginning with a thorough project plan and constant communication can mitigate scope creep. Additionally, our text indicated project managers should be ready or prepared for changes in project scope. This is true and requires a project manager to be flexible, identify impacts of changes, and communicate the advantages and disadvantages of the change. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008) For example, I recently had a request to significantly alter a project. Using lessons from our text, I was able to explain how the change would delay the project, cost more money, and jeopardize an on-time delivery.

Works cited

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.

Van Rekom, P. (nd). Practitioner Voices: Overcoming ‘Scope Creep. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

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Communicating Effectively

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

I have a responsibility as a project manager (PM) to try to communicate effectively with various members of my team and key stakeholders. This requires diplomacy. My communications should be concise and focused and they should be influenced by my spirit, attitude, timing, and the personality of recipients.  (Laureate Education, Inc.)

With that said, I’d like to share my reactions to our multimedia presentation on communications that shared the same request for status and deliverables – in three different modalities. They were E-mail, voicemail and face-to-face.

The e-mail message to Mark, while not marked urgent, conveyed a need for an immediate response.

The voicemail message was direct, calm, and offered Mark an e-mail option for sending requested data.

While the face-to-face message was friendly, it did not convey the same level of urgency. It almost seemed Mark’s data was a request rather than a necessity.

Concluding, I believe a PM should communicate with team members to discern their communication preferences. For example, some stakeholders may respond to informal communications, yet pre-planned interactions are required. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer, 2008)

All pre-planned communications should be delivered with a prescribed frequency, an understood time frame for responses, and clear rules of participation. (Laureate Education, Inc.)

Works cited

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.

Stolovich, H. (nd) Communicating with Stakeholders. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

 

Categories: Walden 6145

Learning from a Project “ Post-mortem”

February 25, 2014 1 comment

First, I agree with the notion a project “post-mortem” analysis should ideally allow project team members to review the success and failures of a project in a way that improves future methods and practices, rather than point fingers. This sort of analysis is valuable because it can refine practices. (Collier, DeMarco, & Fearey, 1996)

Many organizations are averse to discussing and documenting their failures and areas of improvement. Hence experts recommend team members agree to a defined “post-mortem” process before the project starts. This defined process helps participants interact with and/or develop documented, well-understood procedures, establish communications that expose findings without compromising team members, assure teammates the process is blame free, and connect the “post-mortem” experience to returns on investment of future projects. Finally, “post-mortems” can be therapeutic or cathartic by allowing team members to vent. (Collier et al., 1996)

I’ve never been part of a formal “post-mortem” but I have been in recent meetings where we discussed a project’s shortcomings or challenges. These meetings were face-to-face and did not include a survey element to elicit sensitive comments or feedback from less-vocal team members. (Greer, 2010)

Again, this meeting was not formal but every phase-specific post-mortem review category was addressed. These phases included:

  • Determine Need and Feasibility
  • Create Project Plan
  • Create Specifications for Deliverables
  • Create Deliverables
  • Test and Implement Deliverables (Greer, 2010)

My most recent meeting was about a project deemed unsuccessful because it was not delivered on time. Unfortunately, we realized part of its failure was linked to pressure to adhere to standards not outlined in the original statement of work.

We’d contracted with a vendor to build an eight-module course related to leadership competencies. Not only was the January 16 deadline missed – we are still waiting on the deliverable.

We had conference call to review the status and a few interesting aspects surfaced from both client and vendor regarding project artifacts and activities that might have made the project more successful. Unfortunately, there were several constraints.

First, we experienced delays with the approval of the statement of work (SOW). This delayed our start date.

Second, our project plan or blueprint was broad and we never had a kickoff meeting of all key team members.

Third, we (the client) and the vendor, both succumbed to the pitfall of backing in to the schedule. We were both given a due date from our operational manager/project champion and were expected to identify activities and estimate their durations. We focused more on the time constraint than the required work. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008)

Fourth, we never did any “Phase 1” research or polling as recommended by Greer (2010) to determine how our constituents would benefit from the course.

As we progressed, we received early-warning signs our product would not be delivered on time when our vendor did not send an e-mail or call on an expected “milestone” date. Additionally, the vendor e-mailed a link to the course draft to our operational manager. Our operational manager was on the road and tied to use their iPad to view the course was not able to. While we’d discussed creating an adaptive tablet version, this was scheduled for “phase 2.” Our operational manager, after that experience, demanded we design for tablets including iOS. This was not in our original scope of work. Our vendor is now updating the course specifications to be amenable to tablets and Macintosh operating systems. This requires more time. We gave our operations manager a copy of the SOW that listed tablet adaptation for “Phase 2,” however in the future, we will require her written signature of acknowledgement.

responsive-design-alone-not-mobile-seo
(Martin, 2012)

Another issue that hampered this project and contributed to our delay was our learning management software cannot accommodate Flash or FLV files. This was not specified in our requirements but is necessary for broad content delivery. Our vendor now is converting all FLV files to MPEG 4 video to accommodate a broad range of access.

Finally, this project fell victim to a lack of administrative considerations. We needed to film several individuals for the course. We allotted two days for filming, yet we did not consider the time it would take to schedule each person. They had to clear their schedules, check personal and professional commitments, and then fly into our location. Our project schedule also landed across the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when many project team members were unavailable.

Concluding, I’d say a lack of management understanding of the SOW that yielded last-minute changes in requirements and our underestimation of the value and time required by administrative tasks resulted in the failure of this project.

Works cited:

Collier, B., DeMarco, T., & Fearey, P., (1996). Defined Process for Project Postmortem Review. IEEE Software. Retrieved from http://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/undergraduate/345/spring12/mitchell/readings/aDefinedProcessForProjectPostMortemReview.pdf

Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! Laureate Custom ed. Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Martin, M. (2012). Responsive Design Alone Is Not Mobile SEO. Search Engine Land. [Illustration] Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/responsive-design-alone-is-not-mobile-seo-124202

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.

Categories: Walden 6145