One morning I woke up with a burning desire to repaint our bedroom walls. They truly needed a lick of paint. But if we want to paint the walls, it would be good to remove the old carpet. If we are changing the floor in the bedroom, then family room floor might as well be upgraded. Wow! We had a project, and it was all ours. We are professionals, so we didn’t rush to start ripping off the carpet. We discussed our project scope and priorities and made a project plan, which consisted of lots of yellow stickers on a piece of butcher paper, with clearly identified work breakdown structure, predecessor-successor relationships and time frames. That was exciting. We were hoping to finish it all within about 6 weeks.
We completed the renovation in about 4 months. It included a complete revamp of two bathrooms and laundry, new floors and repainted walls in ¾ of the house, including the initial bedroom. Half of this was not in the original plan.
Has this ever happened to you? You planned your project, you identified tasks, you estimated costs, time and resources required to produce the desired result. You thought through the details, considered risks, consulted stakeholders and committed resources. The plan looked good! Enthusiastic, you started demolishing your old kitchen, installing a new IT system or building a pipeline.
But how long did this blissful excitement last?
Project managers admit that problems often creep into our projects a little bit at a time. We do a bit more here, we delay a little there, and at first it doesn’t look like a big deal. Then suddenly we realise that we have crossed the line and our project has severely deviated from the plan. Most of us heard about the scope creep phenomenon, but I believe we need to recognise and be able to prevent and mitigate other “creeps” too. By creep I mean a change in project that is unplanned, uncontrolled, unexplained and unexpected that happens at steady but almost imperceptible pace. Through my experience and research I identified scope creep, hope creep, effort creep, cost creep, decision creep, mission creep and feature creep.
In this series of posts I will try to highlight some of the typical project creeps, uncover their main causes and propose some strategies for their prevention and mitigation. A more detailed consideration of project monitoring and control is included in our project management courses.
To be continued…