Life by Design

Scope Creep – A Perennial Issue

Posted on: December 10, 2010


Currently, on our web research project I have two responsibilities.  One is beginning to edit our BETA website with some new .jpgs to prepare it for viewing at the University of Connecticut, by January 4, 2010.  We will also be making some small revisions to some of the video tutorials that I will also need to re-embed before that date.  I have the .jpg stored and ready to go.  Once I got to the back-end of the website today and proceeded to upload the .jpg, a dialogue box popped up stating that my username and password didn’t match.  This is puzzling as I am  a Super Administrator for this site and can already reach the back-end of the site when I log on.  I now have to contact our IT person who is already very busy with a multitude of projects for the University about why this is happening.  Valuable time is lost this morning.

Secondly, I am also responsible for archiving all of our materials and data that we have collected on the SOAR/SAIL grant since its inception.  In trying to transfer the folder (which is 91.86 GB) to our large University server, I received an error message stating the file is too big to save on the server….so another email goes out to our IT fellow asking if it would be best to compress the file before it can be saved on the large server.  Again, more time lost.

My only recourse is to contact our resident IT person as much of what needs to be done to correct these issues lies in his domain.  I do not have the skill level.  Generally, this person has been very pleasant to deal with and responsive, so I do not expect any unduly time delays.  I will tell my boss (who is one of the Primary Stakeholders) about the issues and time delays.

If I were the PM on this project it goes back  to the beginning.  I would have had a launch meeting in which all parties expected to take part on the project are present (including IT), the full scope of the project is laid out, expectations for the final product, time frames, team member responsibilities, resources available and communication expectations are also clearly communicated.  I would have also set up a project monitoring system to get weekly status reports from all team members and check the project process flow daily.

I am a resource on this team and I dislike it when I am in the situation I am in today.  My time is not being fully utilized for the project and I do not have enough to do to justify my hours.  What I can do, is perhaps ask another team member if they need help with one of their projects.  That way the resource that I am can be repurposed.



Portny, S, Mantel, S.,Meredith, J, Shafer, S, Sutton, M. (2008)  Project Management.  Wiley Pathways.



10 Responses to "Scope Creep – A Perennial Issue"


Working in the IT field, I can attest to the problems that ensued due to the numerous times we were not involved on a project from the beginning. I think, at least from my experience, that people just assume there will not be an issue with the technical aspects of the project. This is due to their lack of experience with IT. By the time they do involve us, the issues already exist. Of course the project team is scrambling because these issues are delaying the project. Unfortunately, from my experience, the project manager has failed to prepare adequately for these issues. Therefore, the project team members are feeling pressured to get the issues resolved as quickly as possible. Just as with your IT person at the university, these issues typically arise when we already have several other projects and responsibilities we are currently working on. If we had been involved from the beginning of the project(s), these issues could have been avoided. As Greer states, “if you want to avoid the penalties of rework (i.e., avoid schedule overruns and blown budgets), take great care to identify and get all stakeholders involved” (2010, p. 10).

Good luck on this project. I hope your knowledge and skills will be fully utilized.


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

Thanks David for giving me your perspective as an IT person. It just seems logical to me to have all the players on board before we launch a big project. A little forethought I think can go a long way to reduce team stress in the long run. I tend to be more relationship oriented than task oriented, so it’s very important to me that if I’m the PM on a task that all the members move through the task with minimal collateral damage. Stress from poor planning can really damage working relationships that have to endure the long haul. Having heard your perspective, I will most certainly include IT if I can get the chance to actually head up a project. Thanks your your comments!

I hate it when my password fails. Portny states, “All projects are carried out under conditions of uncertainty… As a result, project managers spend a great deal of time adapting to unpredicted change” (Portny,, 2008, p.7). In this case, you had to do some unpredicted changes. No matter how much planning is done, you can’t stop scope creep.

Good luck with you project and I hop the IT people get everything work out.

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.

Hi Patty.

Thanks for your comments! As of today, our fine IT fellow (he really is fine), was supposed to meet with me this afternoon to correct yesterday’s requests. He got tied up in another meeting that proved to be more troublesome than he thought, so we’ll have to wait to Monday. It’s the nature of the beast, I’m afraid!

Take care and have a wonderful weekend….can’t believe Christmas is so close! It’s baking and decorating for my son and I.



I am a bit hesitant to admit this to you (and to David) but I never thought of including IT in planning meetings. I always think of them as being
1. Too busy
2. Not involved unless there is a problem

Seems obvious now! I have always ASSUMED that the technical part of projects I was involved in would just naturally work – a very naive attitude. I also thought that it is my job to work through things on my own rather than to identify experts and ask for help. Not because I think of myself as Superman but because I think of them as having more important demands on their time.

Thank you Deborah. Your post has given me a new perspective on using resources (individuals with specialized knowledge) in the early stages of the project to minimize using them in a frantic manner at the later stages of the project.

Thanks Andrea for your candor. A year ago, when our project started, I wouldn’t have thought it to be important. In fact, I didn’t even realize we would need an IT person on board. Now, having walked through the project day by day with all of its ups and downs, I can see how valuable it would have been at the very beginning to look ahead with as much vision as possible to imagine all the needs based on rough time frames. Like I replied to David above, it’s really important to me that all members of a team get through the process of delivering a project without destroying relationships or adding to our already high stress levels. I do think that could planning and effective communication can do this. I appreciated hearing from you!

Hi Deborah,

While I have been in situations when IT has been an issue when completing a project, I haven’t experiences this recently. However, on Friday, my co-worker was having issues with another member of her project team. It seems as though this team member is not sure about how to archive and access information and this leaves her left with no progress on work done. Our company employees people around the country, so for example if I am working on a project in Georgia, my grphic artist may be working in Virginia. We have really professional people, but somethings I think that geo-spactial issues can have a major impact on a project, not to mention IT problems. Basically what it boiled down to for her was that she didn’t feel as though she had accomplished anything that day and that her day was a waste of time with this project.

Hi Crystal,

A project is challenge enough, not to mention having to over come geo-spactial issues on top of it all! One of the skill sets I have had to learn this year is how to go with the flow and not feel that that I haven’t been productive on a day where everything I need is dependent upon someone else. I’ve been used to working independently and only having to rely on myself for everything (which isn’t good either!!). I am learning that delays, revisions, lack of information, lack of team member availability, lack of skill sets and so on are part of the picture of an ID project. I think it’s also a good life skill to ‘get’….in other words, “Don’t push the river.” and learn to bend and not break!

That’s interesting!
I find it interesting (and a little humorous) that you consider yourself a tool that needs to be repurposed now that you are not being utilized to your full potential! I can definitely relate to your situation, just never looked at it quite the same way you do but its very cool. I consider myself a hard worker and very beneficial to my team but unfortunately we also face alot of down time when IT problems surface, among many other roadblocks. Its frustrating but feels great when another team can use my skills and talents. Great post Deborah.


ps… once you mentioned IT I figured David would have a response, and sure enough looks like he was the first one! Thats great, he is a knowledgeable guy and its interesting to hear the IT side of the story.

Hi Will,

I think after having looked at “Resource Allocation” last week, I realized that we all are resources with a definite $$ value for our time….a ‘crafting tool’ if you will. As I mentioned in response to Crystal’s post above, I’m not used to ‘going with the flow”. It’s hard for me to drift, but I think it’s part of a skill set that I need to learn to function healthily on an ID project. I could learn how to be in the moment more, relax more and take things as they come….in other words, give up this illusion we all have that we can control anything!!

I, too, was grateful for David’s post to see his viewpoint. I was glad to hear that he would like his role to be included in initial launch meetings. I think it’s important.

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