Archive | April, 2013

Creepy Projects

11 Apr

In an engineering environment, there are a lot of stakeholders that are concerned with the functionality of the final product.  On top of that, there are cosmetic concerns as well as packaging considerations, especially when dealing with diagnostic devices for veterinarians.  When a plastic component of a device is modified, even a little to improve manufacturability, everyone gets involved to ensure that the proper testing is taking place.  When engineering made such a modification to the cover of their device, the stakeholder list was long.  Everyone from quality assurance, manufacturing, procurement, quality control, supplier quality, engineering, instruments and the three lines of business that this component touches was consulted to determine the correct testing necessary.  Portny et al. (2008) recommends creating this type of stakeholder list to ensure all the groups that are affected by the change or support the project are involved.  With the direction from the stakeholders, testing was divided into four categories: device final assembly (do the parts fit together correctly), assembly equipment (can the automated equipment put the final device together), functional testing (does the device still do what it is supposed to do), and instrument testing (does the device still function in the instruments that read the results).

The cover change involved qualifying new tooling to manufacture the component at the vendor’s facility.  Also incorporated was a small feature change that would allow for easier assembly and reduced defects.  The tooling validation is something that had been performed many times in the past making it relatively straight forward to set the proper scope and deliverables.  The required expertise was present within the company to ensure the project could meet its goal and buy-in from the various areas affected was received (Murphy, 1994).  The testing plan was developed and presented to the stakeholders for preliminary approval.  Though it covered most everything, there were a few small areas that needed to be altered prior to final approval.  By engaging the project audience from the start, the important information that was missed that could have affected the final outcome of the project was included (Portny et al., 2008).

A final meeting was scheduled to go over the changes and receive the go ahead to begin testing.  During this meeting, a representative of an affected group wanted to include additional testing for a new instrument that was in production.  This group wanted to include the requirement to build a wide variety of sample devices for testing, just to make sure the feature change would not affect their instrument.  This additional testing would add at least three weeks to the schedule for assembly alone, forcing the delay for the tool.  When changes like this arise, project managers need to be able to manage the situation properly without insulting anyone (Portny et al., 2008).  The PM should talk to the people involved and let them know that their ideas are valuable and talk through them to make sure everyone understands was the scope of the project is (Stolovich, n.d.).

After going back and forth for a week discussing the proposed addition, it was finally mentioned that the instrument in question was not yet functional and these parts would be used for future testing.  Van Rekom (n.d.) offers that a good project manager needs to be able to say “no”, stick to the priorities and be aware that you will not be able to do everything for everybody.  After discussing the project scope with the parties involved, it was determined that the additional testing would become a new project and would not hold up the existing as suggested by Stolovich (n.d.).

Though the proper team members were involved and the stakeholder list included all relevant parties, a statement of work was not formally accepted by the group at the outset.  When a formal process for handling change request is not implemented, project managers can get themselves into trouble (Portny et al., 2008).  A formalized change control system could have eliminated the scope creep by having a formal proposal and review of the request.  If that had been done from the start, the need for this particular change request would have been clear from the outset.


Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials. Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9–11.

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.

Stolovitch, H. (n.d.). Project management concerns: Scope creep.  . Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 12, 2013 from

Van Rekom, P. (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Barriers to project success.  . Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 5, 2013 from