Analyzing Scope Creep

Last year a friend of mine asked me to help him reseed his lawn and plant some new shrubs. When he asked me to help with this he figured it would take about two hours. I arrived on the day of the project and he had everything ready to go; a rototiller, grass seed, a spreader, a garden hose, and a few other garden tools. Everything went according to plan until his wife got home and suggested that we also reseed the side yard.

It wasn’t a big deal at the time, but now I realize that it could be considered scope creep. By adding this new task it meant the project would take longer than two hours, and we would need to go back to the store to get more grass seed. At the time we handled this scope creep simply by adjusting the time of the project (the schedule) and increasing the budget. If I was the project manager for this project I could have prepared for this scope creep and controlled the project by listening to all stakeholders during the planning stage. By knowing the expectations of all clients from the beginning this new task could have been included in the original plan. On a fairly simple project like this I could have continued to communicate with the clients leading up to the project to see if there were any new requests and if they could be accommodated into the project plan. For a larger project involving more people I would include a change control system in the project plan (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).

References

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.

 

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Herding Cats is a project management blog by Glen B. Alleman, he is the author of a book, Performance-Based Project Management: Increasing the Probability of Project Success. This is an active, popular blog where Glen posts about all aspects of project management. He includes advice from his own experience as well as other experts in the field. In one recent post he recommends an ebook; Secrets of 40 PPM Experts on Changing Project Management to Project Leadership. This book promotes the idea that a project manager needs to be more than a manager, they should be a project leader. Because I am new to project management and I don’t know what I don’t know, one post titled, “How to Assure Your Project Will Fail” stuck out as being particularly useful for planning a project’s schedule. By reading about the experiences of experts I can hopefully limit some mistakes.

Herding Cats

Bright Hub is an education website that offers articles and discussions about a wide range of education matters including project management. One particular post titled “Use Project Cost Estimating Techniques in Projects”, discusses three ways of estimating costs; analogous estimating, resource Cost Rates estimating, and bottom-up estimating. Each post includes additional resources and links at the bottom of each page. The most helpful thing about this particular site and post are the examples of projects that would call for each type of estimation. Readers can also become guest bloggers allowing for a wide range of ideas.

Bright Hub PM

Communicating Effectively

After receiving the message in each modality I did notice some differences in how I interpreted each one. First, the email message left me with the impression that it was important that the report be completed soon, but it was not really urgent. Unless we know that the recipient checks email regularly, there could be some question as to when they will see it. The face to face message showed urgency that she took time to come over and ask for the report in person, but she still did not make me think that it was real serious, maybe because she was so polite about it. The voice mail was the most convincing message for me that the report needs to be done now, I could hear the concern in her voice.

This activity has helped me see the importance of tone and timing of communication. When a project manager is working with a team of people they are familiar with it may require a different tone than when they are working with people they are unfamiliar with. The project manager should always document oral communication by also sending an email (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014). For an urgent matter like the one in this activity, I think the email would have been more useful if it was sent with the voice mail or as a reminder after the face to face discussion. To make emails more useful the project manager should ask for a specific form of response (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014). This activity shows that in a project team one person’s work is often dependent on another’s. The project manager must communicate to each member how their part fits into the plan as a whole and follow up to make sure they stay on track.

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (2014). Communicating With Stakeholders [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

Several months ago, I and three co-workers were asked to study information about a new process at work and present it to our team. We had one week to prepare for the presentation, we talked briefly the day we were asked to do this but did not have an official meeting to discuss the plan until two days later. At this meeting it was very difficult to come to a consensus on how to present the material. One team member wanted to do something funny, while another wanted it to have audience participation.   After much discussion we all agreed that it could include both if the presentation was in the form of a skit. Each person in the group selected a section of the material to review and we agreed to meet two days later two decide how we would incorporate each section into a skit. At that meeting one person had not yet studied their part of the information, despite this we tried to continue with the original plan and write lines for the skit. After a few minutes it was clear that the group as a whole was not prepared well enough to continue with our skit concept and actually provide the important information that our co-workers needed to know. Instead we changed course and simply let each person explain their assigned section at the meeting, the result was a dull and ineffective presentation that merely reiterated the information packet that everyone had already received.

Before this class I knew that we could have done a better job on this presentation, but now I can see that this was a failed project. By following some project management principles this project could have had a far better result. By choosing a project manager, who is familiar with the project management process, we would have had our first meeting right away. There were too many ideas on how to design the presentation, with no leader we just tried to include them all. By defining the scope, determining what can be accomplished, we would have had boundaries when planning how to present the material (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014a). The project manager would be responsible for saying “no” to an idea that was too involved for the time allowed (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014b). One of the team members did not even begin reviewing their part until the last meeting. A project manager would have the authority, and know to follow up with each person and remind them of their commitment (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (2014a). Defining the Scope of an ID Project [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D

Laureate Education, Inc. (2014b). Project Management Concerns: Scope Creep [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D

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.

Class Reflection

In the next decade and beyond distance education will continue to grow in popularity among learners, and as a means of educating in areas of subject matter that seem impossible today. Advances in technology will play a role in this growth, but more people will need to accept distance learning as a viable way to learn for it to continue.

When I started this master’s degree program I had a limited view of the fields where instructional design would be used. It did not take me long to realize that it is not just used in education but in any area where people learn. I think that many segments of the public today see distance learning the way I saw instructional design. Many young people already communicate with each other almost entirely through social media and other technology, these learners have full confidence in it. The acceptance of social media as a way of communicating with people from all over the world, it gives potential distance learners awareness of how information can be exchanged online (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014).

An instructional designer can affect perceptions of distance learning by designing learning experiences that are effective in helping learners achieve the objectives of the course (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Learners’ who have positive experiences and attain the desired outcomes from distance learning are likely to be a proponent of it in the future (Laureate Education, Inc., 2014). In order for instructional designers to meet the needs and expectations of learners they must keep up with, and seek out new learning tools. This will be especially important as new content areas shift to distance learning, innovative instructional designers will be valuable resources for organizations who are making these changes.

I plan to eventually be an innovative instructional designer, I lack experience now but through the use of online resources and working with experienced I.D.s there are many ways to stay current in the field. My experience as a Walden student has been positive and I have recommended it to friends and acquaintances. I was a skeptic of distance learning not long ago, but now I know I just needed to experience it, programs like Walden can provide high value depending on what is important to the student (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009). When promoting improvements to distance learning I will rely on my own experience as a student and my expertise as an instructional designer. I think that web tools will continue to be more specialized toward specific content, by demonstrating how these tools improve understanding, organizations and learners are more likely to embrace distance learning.

When I think about how distance learning has changed and grown just in the last ten years, I expect that to continue. More technology and the perceived need by many for a convenient, flexible way of receiving education will demand it.

References

Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (2014). The Future of Distance Education [Video Webcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_4775279_1%26url%3D

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Converting to a Distance Learning Format Guide

When converting a traditional learning experience to a blended learning format a trainer should consider the following questions.  What strategies should he/she use during the pre-planning phase of the conversion?  How could this learning experience be improved by shifting to a blended format?  How will their own role change if part of the program is now online?  What do they need to do in order to prepare and encourage learners to communicate online?  Please click below to view a guide for this process.

Guide: WK7AssgnRombergerD