Analyzing Scope Creep

I will describe a project for which the individual’s roles were SME and ID.  The purpose of the project was to create a hybrid version from a face-to-face version of a course.  In addition to those same roles, he also served as its instructor for a few years.  However, two layers of personnel were added between the initial and the subsequent design projects.  One of which was the organization’s own instructional designer and the other was a dean position to which that ID reported.  In essence, the number of staff with whom I worked grew from one to three in a short period of time.

Ineffective communication was evident in several ways as most of the correspondence was done via email.  On at least three instances, the ID would ask me a question via email to which he responded in an expedient manner only to be asked the same question days or weeks later.  After he finished the project by providing the deliverables about one month early and investing much more time than expected, the dean requested my entries into a spreadsheet depicting alignments between the course and program outcomes and wanted it within a week.  As agreed, he completed and returned the spreadsheet a day or two later transmitting it via email only to be asked for it again a day after the deadline. At this juncture, he began losing my composure and interest in future work with those two individuals and politely asked the dean to search through the email messages first, as it seemed reasonable that any additional transmittal from me would probably get lost in cyberspace.  In addition, I expressed via email in a half-jokingly matter that a number of hours contributed to the conversion project was pushing my hourly rate toward or below the minimum wage rate.

Keep in mind he was paid a flat rate for each the initial and the subsequent version, as an independent contractor, but he agreed to do the conversion for $2,200 less than the initial design and under an option to be the first choice among facilitators for the course.  Perhaps that option was merely a teaser to engage my services in this low rate project.  In hindsight and with reflection, had he been the project manager, the thrust of Parkinson’s Law (“…work will expand to fill the amount of time allotted” Portny et al, 2008; p. 166) would be known to all as would my inclination and obvious methods (Laureate, n.d) for avoiding or minimizing it.  In addition, the use of a WBS, a schedule, a resource allocation plan, an RASCI chart, and other forms of documentation to capture the full impact of scope creep.


Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Overcoming ‘Scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Project management concerns: ‘Scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from

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


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