Traci's Blog

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Since recently being promoted from an assistant to a Human Resources Specialist in the training branch of my organization, I have been given the task of revamping our New Employee Orientation. Since I have been at my organization, the orientation has transformed from being 2 full days long, to only a day and a half. The length of the orientation was changed based on constant complaints that it was too long. Now, we are faced with the issue of inefficiency. Not only do our new employee’s and stakeholders feel that orientation is too long, but they also believe that the time allotted is not being used properly, the information is causing a cognitive overload, and/or the presentations are either not needed or not giving the new employees the information desired. As being one of the facilitators before the promotion, I was faced with these complaints frequently; and was happy in my new role to have the authority to do something about the problems.

The first task I decided was to call our sister agencies to find out how they conducted their new employee orientation. I discovered that we were the only agency, out of five under that branch of government, who had a 1.5 day long orientation. The other agency’s orientation were only a half day long because they only focused on what a new employee wants to know on their first day at a new organization, which all included knowing the following:

    • How am I getting paid?

    • How am I getting to work?

    • What are my benefits?

The agency’s added to the above list what they believed new employees need to know, which is:

    • What is the organization?

    • What is mandatory for a new employee to complete (i.e. training)?

After discovering this information, I thought I was well on my way to solving the problem and delivering a more efficient orientation. However, my supervisor changed that around for me.

My supervisor, once presented with the way our sister agencies conduct orientation, was on-board with conducting our orientation the exact same way as our colleagues in other agencies. This changed once she started informing everyone of our project and literally EVERYONE had a say-so in what should be covered in our orientation and how it should be done. My supervisor, being the people pleaser that she is, wanted to included EVERYONE’S ideas, even if they were conflicting with each other. She argued that we have to include our stakeholders in our project and keep them informed; however, because of this, she completely changed our original path and turned it into a maze without an exit.

Maze

I was at a lost of what to do about the situation. Should I follow my supervisor and let the new orientation be just as bad, or worse than the current; or should I say something about it? I decided to try to get the opinion of others in my branch who have either facilitated the orientation, facilitated other courses at our agency, or were skilled in the design and development of courses. After explaining the entire situation to these group of people, they all seemed to lean towards our original idea. I then decided to conduct a meeting with these people and our supervisor so we can all voice our opinions. After the meeting, my supervisor agreed with the consensus but still wanted to find away to appease the other stakeholders. We have all talked to the stakeholders about our ideas to make orientation more efficient. What help us win them over is showing them how our sister agencies conduct orientation and the complaints we receive on our evaluations from new employees.

The project is still in the works, and we occasionally have issues from my supervisor who comes up with ‘another bright idea’ that she probably received from a stakeholder. I have to constantly remind her of what we are trying to achieve and what we agreed upon. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I am still trying to figure out how to deal with this situation, as in just last week my supervisor had a meeting with one of our stakeholders who had another brilliant idea that she seems very adamant on incorporating in our orientation.

FaceI think the main problem here is that we didn’t plan for anything. I don’t think we planned on this being a huge project; and just thinking a quick fix to the problems would rectify everything. But as the old saying goes, Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. We should have prepared for our stakeholders by identifying who are the drivers, supporters, and observers; and deciding when and how to involve the three (Portney, et. al, 2008, p. 280). All of this could have been identified in the planning phase. We should have also set our goals and objectives in writing and received approval. By doing so, we could have stayed the course and not allow scope creep. If we all shared the same understanding of the project’s vision, we could have controlled scope creep (University Alliance, 2014, para. 13).

References

Portney, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., & Sutton, M. M. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

University Alliance. (2014). Managing scope creep in project management. Retrieved from http://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/project-management-scope-creep/#.VITzXOl0yM8

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4 thoughts on “Analyzing Scope Creep

  1. Great post Traci. I thought the use of graphics in your post had a really good effect to support what you were saying. That sounds like such a nightmare project to handle. There are several things I think you did well. For one, you consulted senior members in the company that your supervisor would more likely have respect for, and listen to. Secondly, you very accurately identified the fact that the process could have been included by clearly identifying the stakeholders and when they needed to be included in the project. These are very logical and practical ways of dealing with the issue you face. Great job and thanks for sharing.

    Georgia

  2. It seems as though the New Employee Orientation provided a relevant experience to get your feet wet in your new job! More importantly, you learned valuable lessons that will serve you well as you move forward. It was a good idea to inquire about how the sister agencies designed the onboarding of new employees. As I read your example, I could definitely see the value in developing the risk management plan to control the project, to assess the risk factors, and to develop a contingency plan for the project.

  3. One of the first issues I see is that, there is no one making final decisions here.The supervisor seems as if she has no opinion of her own. It would seem that she s the one that should know what the stakeholders want and is able to advise you on how to approach the issue.

  4. From reading your post, I wonder whether or not your supervisor would adhere to any plan given her propensity towards wanting to please everyone. I think that scope creep is only part of your problem; issues with “managing” your supervisor is clearing creating challenges for this project.

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