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.

References

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 https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D

Van Rekom, P. (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Barriers to project success.  . Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 5, 2013 from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D

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3 Responses to “Creepy Projects”

  1. Laurie Morgan April 15, 2013 at 12:01 am #

    David,

    You wrote, ”When a formal process for handling change request is not implemented, project managers can get themselves into trouble (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).” Stolovich (Laureate Education, n.d.) recommends project managers implement and inform the project team and clients of procedures by completing a Change of Scope Document at the beginning of the project. It requires clients to thoroughly explain the requested change, the implications, and impact to the schedule, resources, budget, and deliverables. Then, all parties must agree to changes. If it conflicts with the project, the PM has justification for denying the change request. Also at the initial meeting, the project team should be advised that the budget does not permit add-ons. Remind them of the procedures, and if they persist, require completion of the Change of Scope document. They should know that the stakeholders must unanimously buy-in to the change with signed approvals. Sometimes it may require an increase in the budget or additional time to complete the project. Written documentation will reduce unnecessary changes to the scope.

    References

    Laureate Education Inc. (n.d.). Monitoring projects. Video presentation.

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

  2. Marc April 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    David,

    Great post. You are absolutely right about project managers having the responsibility of saving “no” when project scope occurs. The additional request would have had a substantial impact on the budget of the project. My experience has been that it is easier to say no to a coworker than the boss or the client. However, after gaining a better understanding of the potential negatives of scope creep, I have come to understand that no may need to be said for the sake of the project. As Budrovich (n.d.) noted striving for great can often sink a good project. He stated that he often takes new ideas and incorporates them into the next version of the product.

    Thanks,

    Marc

    References
    Van Rekom, Achong, T., & Budrovich (n.d.). Practitioner Voices: Overcoming “Scope Creep”. Presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2013, from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp? tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2652514_1%26url%3D.

  3. Mary Ann Jock April 14, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Dave,
    Great example of scope creep. You are right that a good PM must stick to their guns, but you did not have the statement of work to help substanitate your need to stick with plan. If you were to let people know on the outset that any changes needed to be requested in writing, I would assume that some of the change ideas would never get brought to your attention. It is very easy to suggest changes if you are not going to be the one to make the changes, but when you have to put it in writing that affects some people.

    I have always been the type of person to get something in writing just to make sure I have a paper trail incase I need to produce it.

    Mary Ann

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