Scope Creep

Image                Working as part of the after school tutoring program has been a joy.  Last year I was in charge of teaching technology lessons.  At the beginning of the program, my function was simply to teach the predesigned lessons.  When I was given the first lesson, I realized that most of the students had done the same lesson last year.  Additionally, it did not teach them any new skills.  When I brought this to the director’s attention and asked what the next few lessons were, she changed the scope of the project.  Suddenly I was designing technology lessons for an undetermined amount of time with no guidelines.  Additionally, she held a derby for two schools and took two field trips that were not a part of the original design of the tutoring program.  She also ran four clubs within the program that were not a part of the scope.  I was also asked to run two parent nights, where only one was originally scheduled for this program.  This is a prime example of scope creep, which is a very common occurrence with projects (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

                Our project manager did not have a plan to deal with scope creep.  Instead, every time she was asked to do something additional she chose a person from within the tutoring staff and assigned the project.  While I enjoyed my part, the lack of guidelines for the additional requirements caused a lack of uniformity within the structure of the clubs.  Additionally, attendance at the extra events was poor.  This was a direct impact of scope creep.    

When dealing with scope creep, it is important to have a plan for contingencies and to think through each change and the effect on the overall project.  Additionally, it is important to communicate with your stakeholders about how these changes will affect the project before deciding on changes (Lynch & Roecker, 2007).    Once changes have been made, all stakeholders should be aware of their additional responsibilities.  The project manager should communicate often with the affected personnel to insure that changes are being made in a consistent and appropriate manner (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer, 2008).


Laureate Education, Inc., (2010). Monitoring Projects.  [Web]. Retrieved from

Lynch, M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Controlling the Project. In M. Lynch, & J. Roecker, Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management (pp. 94-108). London: Taylor & Francis Group. 


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.


7 thoughts on “Scope Creep

  1. Pingback: A Scenario of Scope Creep | IDT Blog of R Talbot

  2. Hi Marla,

    Your blog was interesting and informative this week. I agree with you that it is important to have a formal process in place to deal with change. Dr. Stolovitch (2012) tells us that everyone from stakeholders to project team members can be guilty of promoting scope creep; this why it’s important to have a change control process in place on every project.

    Thanks Ron

    • Ron,
      Thank you for your comment. I do believe that having a process in place for doing anything makes a difference in the outcome. If you do not have a process in place, you are making it up as you go along. That is always harder than simply knowing how to deal with it before the problem arises.


  3. Hi Marla,

    What an awesome example of scope creep to the point it ended up being a completely different project! Talk about having to be flexible and rolling with the punches. Greer (2007) talks about staying calm when addressing changes to a project but that may have been hard to do in your situation. I felt a little panic when I was reading about all the different things that your director had planned to do in that time period.


    Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

    • Kathy,
      Thank you. I panicked twice during this process. However, I did it in the comfort of my own classroom away from students and teachers with the door shut and the light off. In the end, it matters what the rest of the world sees, not how you feel when accomplishing it. The final product made a name for us regionally in this organization and impressed some very important people related to this particular program. I would say that as a project manager I would certainly plan long range and identify my goals for the year before the year began.


  4. Hi Marla
    I enjoyed reading your post. Delegating the people in educational field is always difficult since teachers have similar skills and talent. When job definiton is not clear and accontability is lack, it is really not possible for the team members to be successful at the project work. It is the role of the Project Manager to point out to key stakeholders what the impact of any change to the project will be on the cost, time and quality objectives of the project. In your instutition, your project manager needs to be reminded of this situation. Thank you very much for this informative post.

    • I appreciate your comment. Although I used to think that teachers came to the table with the same skill set, I have learned a lot since I began a leadership role within my building. Some teachers are better at scheduling, others excel with technology and there are teachers who are amazing proofreaders. On the other hand, I absolutely agree that the Project Manager must keep stakeholders informed throughout the process. When we play more than one role, sometimes projects suffer as a result. As budget cuts pervade education, the number of tasks teachers are required to complete increase. It is important to choose project managers wisely for their skills and ability to make their project seem important in the wake of overworked and underpaid educators.


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