Analyzing Scope Creep

Assigned to a project team developing six different courseware programs ICW Level I and ILT/CAI for a client, there were some specific scope creep issues that occurred during the course of the project. One issue was the PM lacked the experience to deal with the size of the project. An inexperienced PM not controlling or managing the project resulted in losing control allowing stakeholders to shift project goals and project scope. Another issue was adding extra hours to complete tasks as each stakeholder provided different features to include in the courseware.  A third issue was the clients requesting courseware functionality for Level II and Level III training at the same cost of Level I training. Lastly, the project requirements, objectives, and scope of the project were not accurately defined resulting in ambiguous or open interpretation of the project. All four issues resulted in scope creep. According to Lynch and Roecker (2007), “Scope creep refers to uncontrolled changes in the requirement of the course as defined in the scope definition of the project management plan (p. 96).”

The stakeholders dealt with the scope creep issues by continuously being indecisive on the design and development of the courseware resulting in changing the project requirements and project scope. The project team began working longer hours to meet the new requirements with the same resources and same time allocated for the project. Scope creep involved additional deliverables and requirements that were not properly reviewed and documented. The PM finally realized that the client’s new requirements were not agreed upon in the project charter or project management plan and the project began drifting away from its original intent impacting the scope, quality, resources, time, and budget. It is almost impossible for changes not to occur on a project, but not properly managing and controlling the changes can cause project failure.

Looking back at the project, if I were assigned the role as the PM, I would first ensure that the scope definition and project requirements were properly defined and agreed upon between all stakeholders and myself (PM). Then, host the project kickoff meeting to establish the roles and project accountability for all stakeholders to keep the project on track. Any new client requirements outside the agreed project management plan, I would clearly communicate the impact of scope creep (any project changes will impact the scope, quality, resources, time, and budget of the original project). Finally, is having a Configuration Management (CM) change control process in place. The POC for the project are the only personnel authorized to make a project change requiring a signed approval and updated project documents.

Sometimes we need to say “no” if the changes have a negative impact and add no value to the training effort. Change of scope is normal; it’s not necessarily a problem. In fact, a scope change can be beneficial when they allow the project team to respond sensibly to changing conditions that exist outside the project (Greer, 2010, p. 35).

Enjoy this humorous video on scope creep and see if you can identify some scope creep issues. The PM has lost control of managing the project. The environment of the organization seems to be a top-down approach.

References

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

Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management. London: Routledge. Copyright by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Group, LLC via the Copyright Clearance Center.

YouTube. (2011, January 16). Scope creep – project management. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHSjpFUKQR4

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Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

PM

Photo Credit: IT Knowledge Exchange

PM Tools

Photo Credit: Open Source PM Tools

What I have found most challenging about estimating activity duration’s and resource costs is balancing the quadruple constraints of quality (scope), cost (resources), schedule (time), and budget (money). The challenges about estimating activity duration’s and resource cost for ID projects are predicting the possible costs that will be incurred by carrying out the activities and tasks that are planned in a project; in addition to balancing the budget in line with the activities and tasks set in the project proposal.

There are a host of online project management software programs that provide PMs with the capabilities of developing project schedules, managing teams, tracking project results, and so on. PM software is not a requirement for PMs to allocate resources and estimate costs for an ID project. Microsoft word, Excel, Visio, or Edraw Max are some tools to use for developing ID projects. But, for PMs that want to manage, control, and monitor the project team and deploy resources more effectively and efficiently, using a project management software program is advantageous. The host of program management software comes at a cost and provides different features for an ID project. PMs need to review the features and decide which software program fits their needs.

Two resources that I would use in estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects are Clarizen and Intervals.

Clarizen provides a complete project management tool for assigning tasks, resources, allocating budgets, and managing projects all wrapped in a single product. This program is useful for ID projects resulting in submitting deliverables efficiently, and track and prioritize schedules. Additionally PMs can manage reports and request from product managers. Clarizen costs approximately $30 a month.

Intervals, is a powerful project management tool that provides a task-based setup. Some of Intervals features include task management, reporting functions, client access, subcontractor task, time tracking, and security. Intervals, also has a built-in budgeting function. Intervals cost approximately $100/month.

Project management software has the capacity for PMs to plan, organize, and manage resource pools and develop resource requirement forecasts. Depending on the features and the cost of the software it can include tools for estimation and planning, scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, documentation storage, and security.

One useful site for beginners on an ID project is (projectmanager.com). This is a great place to collaborate with others in the same field and the site provides a variety of resources. The free project management templates are very useful and easy to use. The videos and blogs provide some educational resources and great information for managing projects. In the video, Dr. Stolovitch discusses establishing priorities and what you allocate is feasible. Projects will always involve competition for resources; everyone wants everything (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Reference

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Project Practitioner voices: Barriers to project success [Video file].

Communicating Effectively

Effective communication modalities are necessary to ensure the success of the project. As the sender of a message, how we communicate and what we communicate to the receiver (stakeholders) can influence the intent of the message. Depending on the needs of the stakeholder or project some forms of communication are more effective than others. Three different communication modalities (email, voicemail, and face-to-face) are used in effectively communicating with project team members.

Email

Email

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In the video presentation, Jane sent an email to Mark and stated her purpose clearly about needing a missing report to finish her report and deadline for delivery. Mark, engaged in the middle of a meeting may have received that email as an attack with only reading “…a missing report…” and not interpreting the entire intent of the importance of the message. If not engaged in a meeting, this form of communication would provide Mark time to read it and comprehend the intent of the message. Mark could then, respond with a resolution to the message.

Voicemail

Voicemail

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The same message sent via voicemail, while Jane has a soft tone, Mark may respond differently even if he is engaged in a meeting. Hearing a voice is more personal then receiving an email, especially if you can put a face to the name of the sender. Both email and voicemail are forms of informal communications. Informal communications occurs as people think of information they want to share (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 357).

Face-to-Face

FTF

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

The same message presented ftf is the most effective form of communication that best conveys the true meaning and intent of the message. The fact that the message deals with a deliverable and deadline this should have been Jane’s first course of communication. Ineffective communication can lead to project delays, misunderstandings, frustration, or workplace conflicts. This form of communication could be a formal communication preplanned and conducted in a standard format in accordance with an established schedule (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 357).

What I have learned from this exercise is we need to understand the different forms of communication and chose the one that best suits the desire of the message we intend to send to the receiver. The intent of the original message, the best form of communication would have been the ftf modality. This method of communication is more effective than the other methods. They enable both the sender and the receiver to view the body language and facial expressions of the communicating stakeholders.

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The art of effective communication [Video file]. Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

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.

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

DOG

Three years ago I started a project to open a home-based dog grooming business. This project post-mortem report is one of the final documents for the home-based dog grooming business project and was used by the project manager and senior level management contractors to assess the success of the project. This report identifies best project practices, problem areas, and provides detailed suggestions for improvement on future similar projects.

The original project goal was to set up a home-based dog grooming business to provide a service for dog owners in Volusia County Florida and surrounding areas. The garage was to be converted into a home-based business. The objectives of the project included:

  • Obtaining a license for a home-based business
  • Finding a Head contractor to oversee the project
  • Finding sub-contractors for the structure, electrical, and plumbing
  • Procuring materials for the shop to include crates or kennels and grooming supplies

The original project success criterion was to have the business up and running by March 20, 2012.

Problem areas experienced throughout the project the plumber was inexperienced and trying to get more money for the work. The plumber advised that extra plumbing was required, which was false according to Florida codes. Communications with sub-contractors was a specific process that caused problems. According to Greer (2010), not involving all stakeholders from the beginning, one can suffer devastating consequences such as rework (p. 8). The plumber did not discuss with the groomer the height of the shower and bath components and placed them in the wrong area, which required rework and leaving a hole in the tub area. The county required a larger septic system then the original one in the house, which impacted the budget and the schedule. The septic system on the property needed to be increased according to Florida law. The grooming business was labeled under the requirements of operating kennels. Converting the garage into a living space (business) required its own air condition system, which was not allocated in the budget. The garage door being replaced with a structured outside wall need to be hurricane proof. The project was becoming over whelming and was caused by a lack of planning, communication, and execution.

Project risks that were mitigated were all the issues discussed above. Outstanding project risks that needed to be managed was the new septic system, which took up half of the front yard, in the process of destroying the entire yard during the process.

The lessons learned during this project is to do all your homework before initiating a home-based business. Talk with other home-based business grooming professionals to see their successes and failures. A lack of experience and resources resulted in the potential to significantly delay in the project. The proposed opening was scheduled for March 20, 2012 and the end of the project was May 27, 2012. The steps taken to mitigate the potentially negative impact of budget and schedule could not be overcome by the events that took place.

Unfortunately while this may sound like a project that went wrong from the beginning there are no ongoing development and maintenance considerations. Everything was complete according to Florida Law. The overall lose was the carpenter who was responsible for building the front desk reception area for $700.00 dollars was paid in full and the person left without starting or completing the tasks. Never pay workers 100% of the profit before working on a project. The end result the home-based business is thriving with continued client base and no constructional issues.

According to Greer (2010), the general questions that are stated reflect the project.

  1. Are you proud of our finished deliverable’s (project work products)? If yes, what’s so good about them? If no, what’s wrong with them? I am pleased with the finished deliverable.
  2. What was the single most frustrating part of our project? The most frustrating thing of the project was the new septic system. The unit is huge and I will mostly likely not have to service my take for many years.
  3. How would you do things differently next time to avoid this frustration? I would talk with other people who have a home-based grooming business and discuss their success and failures.
  4. What was the most gratifying or professionally satisfying part of the project? The finished product was the most gratifying accomplishment.
  5. Which of our methods or processes worked particularly well? Hiring the Head contractor was a plus, they took care of the budget, schedule, and dealt with all altercations.
  6. Which of our methods or processes were difficult or frustrating to use? Communicating and ensuring the contractors and sub-contractors understood the scope of the project and their roles was frustrating and confusing when the city placed restrictions that were unforeseen in the project.
  7. If you could wave a magic wand and change anything about the project, what would you change? The ridiculous amount of money paid for the new septic system. I even went as high as Tallahassee Florida and tried to dispute it and failed.
  8. Did our stakeholders, senior managers, customers, and sponsor(s) participate effectively? If not, how could we improve their participation? In this project and line of work some sub-contractors were exceptional and great quality of work that I would hire them again and refer their services to others. While other sub-contractors I have turned away and would not refer their business to others.

Reference

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

Reflection

Reflection

Photo Credit: The Intentional Workplace & All Things Learning

As I reflect on this eight-week course, what I found surprising as I further my knowledge about how people learn is the fact that there is not one learning theory that best describes how people learn. Depending on the subject, facilitator, and learning environment individual’s behavior changes and it can have a positive or negative impact on learning. As an instructional designer I can increase the quality of learning, meet the needs of each learner by knowing their characteristics and learning style, and applying a variety of learning theories, learning strategies, and integrating technology to make learning meaningful and engaging.

Another thing I found surprising as I further my knowledge about how people learn was applying John Keller’s ARCS model. Keller (1999) identifies four basic elements of motivation known as attention (A), relevance (R), confidence (C), and satisfaction (S), or ARCS (p. 39). This was a new profound knowledge for me and another strategic tool that I have added to my instructional design toolbox. In week 8 we were tasked with a scenario based on facilitators of an online course reporting that students demonstrated a lack of motivation to participate in and complete the course. Most students choose an online learning environment because of the flexibility and convenience and for personal or professional development. Learning requires motivation. I was able to identify several motivational factors and outlined a plan using the ARCS model to improve attrition and motivation in the online course.

This course has deepened my understanding of my own personal learning process. With a deeper understanding of the different learning styles and learning theories, my view on how I learn has changed. I enjoy a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles and I use a combination of learning theories. As an instructional designer it is important to have a basic understanding of the different learning styles and learning theories. With this knowledge, I can instruct and design training programs using different components (methodologies) of learning with the right instructional architecture. Learning is socially shared cognition that is a process of becoming a member of a sustained community of practice; social interaction that constructs and reconstructs contexts, knowledge, and meanings (Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler, 2009, p. 19).

What I have learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation is when effectively combined and implemented, learning is engaging and motivating for students. As an instructional designer it is impossible to tailor instruction to facilitate each student’s needs. It is essential that I know my target audience and design courses with them in mind. As an instructional designer with an understanding about the connections between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and effectively applying these elements to improve the learning environment and the learning activity, these elements will not work if students are not motivated. According to Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler (2009), many factors are likely to influence student’s motivation (p. 224).

What I am taking away from this course that will help me further my career as an instructional designer is the fact that everyone one learns differently. As I continue developing online training programs I will ensure the course materials are designed effectively to engage the learner, promote learning, and apply sound instructional design principles to make learning relevant and meaningful for the target audience. On the job I will effectively use different technology strategies in the delivery of instruction. I will also continue to help people learn by paying special attention to the struggles that students have in an online learning environment. According to Dr. Ormrod (n.d.), there are a variety of basic needs that people have. Some of them are basic survival things. You need food, you need water, and you need to stay warm, and so on. But some of them are psychological needs. The psychological needs have implications for motivation. Dr. Ormrod illustrates four in particular that have direct relevance for an instructional designer.

References:

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Motivation in learning [Video file]. Retrieved from class.waldenu.edu

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Fitting the Pieces Together

puzzle_final

During Week 1, I noted that I learn best through the cognitive theory based on the overview of the learning theories I have explored up to this point. When I am motivated to learn, I am actively involved in the learning process. I also noted that there is not one learning theory that best describes how I learn. With a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, my view on how I learn has changed, especially depending on the learning activity. I have come to understand more comprehensively that I enjoy a mix of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles. I use a combination of learning theories depending on the learning activity.

Behaviorist theory: With no prior knowledge in a course, I am a passive learner responding to stimuli.

Cognitive theory: With some knowledge in a course, I use the information processing approach (storing and retrieving information) to transfer and embrace new information.

Constructivist theory: With prior knowledge in a course, I am an active learner constructing new ideas or concepts with past experiences.

Social learning theory: With some knowledge as an active social participant during my military career, I learn by modeling and observing others.

Connectivism: With a variety of networks (socially and technically enhanced), I learn by recognizing and interpreting patterns and recognizing credible sources.

Adult learning: With prior experience, I am a motivated and a self-directed learner. Learning is a life-long commitment and I am the manager of my learning process.

Technology plays an important role in learning. According to Lim (2004), simulation activities can engage learners in an online learning environment. Simulations serve three very important pedagogical features:

  • They give learners direct access to the behavior of the object domain.
  • They give intrinsic feedback on learners’ experiment with that domain (Laurillard, 1988).
  • They provide real-world relevance and utility related to the scenario and strategies for addressing multifactor problems (Gredler, 1996).

As computers continue to increase in speed and grow in power, simulations (Virtual Reality [VR]) will continue to evolve as well. Although some continue to doubt the benefit of integrating these concepts into the classroom, the reality is that our technologically dependent culture is already making this a part of everyday life. VR, which is popular in video games, allows the user to totally control a computerized character. Every action the user makes is made by the character and instantly displayed for the user. VR is a way for humans to visualize, manipulate, and interact with computers. Today, users want to feel a genuine response to every movement they make, just as in the real world.

The Horizon Report explores trends that accelerate technology, challenges that impede technology, and developments in educational technology for higher education. Some important developments include technologies like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), flipped classrooms, makerspaces, wearable technology, adaptive learning technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Academic institutions can flourish using a specific collection of technologies, like head-mounted displays, glove-input devices, and interactive audio. The military benefits from these technologies, using them to train their service men and women.

Understanding learning styles, learning theories, learning strategies, and new emerging technology as an Instructional Designer, we can continue to place the right content in the right context for the learner to bring relevance to the learning experience. How we deliver content and provide feedback is important to their learning and participation. The learning environment has to match the student and the subject. Constructing learning environments to help learners as they explore it in collaboration with others, they can apply their experience and knowledge in personally meaningful contexts.

 

Mapping Your Learning Connections

Catoon

Photo Credit: Glogster

According to Siemens, “considering technology and meaning-making as learning activities begins to move learning into the digital age” (2005, para. 15). Inherent to this new viewpoint on learning is the idea that we can no longer personally experience everything there is to experience as we try to learn something new. We must create networks which, simply defined, are connections between entities. By using these networks – of people, of technology, of social structures, of systems, of power grids, etc. – learning communities can share their ideas with others, thereby “cross-pollinating” the learning environment (Siemens, 2005, para. 21).

My Learning Connections

Photo Credit: Google images

Today, learning takes place in different forums. The network has changed the way I learn. Gone are the days of sitting in a classroom environment. Today my learning environment is formal in an online community. Working a full-time job, taking care of the family, and learning, I am able to balance my schedule with online learning compared to the traditional classroom setting. The rapid growth of technology devices and capabilities of information and communication technologies provides me with an endless variety of networking tools that allows me to collaborate, share information, and connect with people across diverse disciplines and geographical locations.

The digital tools that best facilitate learning for me are multimedia online activities, print materials, web, e-mail, Internet, CD-ROM, computer software, audio or video conferencing, audio or video tapes, and TV or radio. In addition, search engines, blogs, and media presentations (YouTube) that allows me to research, upload, share, and view videos is one of many media technology vogue that have made facilitating learning for me more accessible and convenient. Each tool provides information, links to new connections, and shared learning. According to Siemens, Information abundance requires that we offload our cognitive capacity onto a network of people and technology (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.). Digital tools allow me to explore, share, engage, and connect with people and content in meaningful ways that help me learn.

Through education, work, social networks (family, friends, and colleagues), blogs, and research I gain new knowledge. Through a variety of social-networking platforms, I can reach out to other professionals in the field if I have any questions related to instructional design issues. Blogging has provided me with the ability to keep track of new emerging instructional design trends or issues. It is fast and mobile. I find new audiences every time I log in. Blogging provides me a space to have my own voice on the web and organizing the world’s information from my personal perspective. Blogging is real-time information network powered by people all around the globe that lets me share and discovers knowledge.

My personal learning networks support the central tenants of connectivism by sharing my viewpoints with others globally we explore ideas completely developing thorough knowledge of the learning activity. My personal learning networks have been very instrumental in providing the kind of learning experience for me to complete my education in the comfort of my home thanks to the digital age of technology. The fact that I am able to find information on any subject germane to my learning experience is also great. Learning communities are essential for collaboration and learning. Learning is socially shared cognition that is a process of becoming a member of a sustained community of practice; social interaction that constructs and reconstructs contexts, knowledge, and meanings (Ormrod, Schunk, Gredler, 2009, p. 19).

Connectivism

References:

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Connectivism [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.