Scope Creep

The last few blog posts have been around instructional design project management. My last post around IDPM will be focused on scope creep. The project team’s or client’s efforts to improve the end product of the project.

As instructional designers who have either lead a project or participated on a project, I’m sure you have all encountered scope creep sometime during your journey in training and development. Today, I will share my experience in this phenomenon in hopes that my experiences can help those who will have projects impacted by this common occurence in project management.

Just a Little Bit of History

In working for a previous employer, there was an identified need for the employees to optimize their customer service skills. I was asked to create the leaders version of the training and a grant would cover the design of our individual contributors.  As the project approached kickoff, a meeting was held and it was decided that this project should be more than just training. The executives decided that there should a culture change and the training should support it. So now, let’s welcome the scope creep. The stake holders wanted to improve the ending result of the project. They wanted the results to be long-lasting and thought instituting a campaign around this initiative would be the answer.

The Impact

What did this all mean? How would this impact the project? Well, now that this is a campaign there was more than just training involved. We had to join forces with the communications department, have buttons made to support the campaign, figure out how to roll out different activities to support the training. The laundry list began to grow and with all of the additional items being added, the true goals of the project began to be lost.   Our original goal was to provide employees with the tools to better communicate with our customers and enable them to provide exceptional service.

If I Had a Magic Wand

If I had a magic wand and could lead the project, I would have stopped the campaign turned propaganda immediately. The real barrier was that employee morale was at an all time low, employee relations were stressed, and trust between management and staff were barely in existence. Creating a training program and a support system to ensure skills and concepts learned in the classroom would be practiced and supported once participants returned to the workplace was already a great challenge. Creating a campaign around it gave it a cheesy feel that I knew would not be received well by the staff.( A message extremely hard to sell to a room full of executives who choose to believe that none of the items mentioned above were happening).

Overall, non-value added activities that at the moment seem like a great idea should be assessed to ensure that scope creep does not occur.


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