Thursday, October 13, 2011

Project Management 6145 Week 6-Analyzing Scope Creep

This week our blog topic is the ever-scary topic of scope creep, here’s our blog assignment:

Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep. What specific scope creep issues occurred? How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time? Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

So let’s first start with the question, “what IS scope creep?”

According to our required text, scope creep is “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 350). Another definition that truly hits the nail on the head so to speak is, “the tendency of a project to include more tasks or to implement more systems than originally specified, which often leads to higher than planned project costs and an extension of the initial implementation date” (What is scope creep, 2007).

In my previous position we took part in a deployment of a case management system that was implemented enterprise-wide. This deployment was a high-profile effort and everyone on my team was expected to travel to support the deployment effort. In the end our team was responsible for training the application, supporting that application (providing field support, as well as support via phone/email), providing support documentation, designing/developing/implementing another training module to later replace the in-person training.  What is interesting is our contract did not originally include all of these provisions esp. with a staff of only 8 people (most of which were on the road).

These issues, and the many that arose as a result, were almost always dealt with in a defensive and reactive (vs. proactive) manner. It seemed we were always reacting to a new development, and/or a new client request that simply came out of nowhere.

In the government contacting realm this is always precarious territory as a contractor never wants to tell the client “no”.  This could possibly result in the client seeking a contract with another organization, and no company wants to lose business (i.e. revenue).

Looking back, I feel a lack of documentation was one important area that could have been done better.  Meaning, many of our processes were undocumented including change requests.  Without documentation it is difficult to see what is in existence, what is being requested, what has been changed, and the results of the requested change. From a project management stand point our organization left themselves very open for later problems to arise.

In an article entitled, “10 Ways to Tackle The Scope Creep”, Miles Burke provides important ways to avoid scope creep:


Burke, M. (2010, November 26). 10 Ways to Tackle the Scope Creep » SitePoint. SitePoint » Web Design, Web Development, Freelancing, Tech News and more. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from

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.

What is Scope Creep?. (2007, October 10). . Retrieved October 13, 2011, from

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Project Management 6145 Week 5-Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Hello Everyone!

We have made it to week 5 already of our project management course!  I can’t believe we’ve already made it this far and are almost finished.  It has definitely been interesting and I have gained a lot of great information.

This week we have freebie assignment:

To prepare for this assignment, conduct a web search (listservs, message boards, blogs) and locate at least two resources that would be useful in estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects. Explore the sites and consider how you might use them to help plan a project’s schedule, budget, or break down a project’s tasks.

Here are the websites I found that hopefully will be of some assistance:

 The title pretty much says it all!  This website has a plethora of information ranging from training cost guidelines, to estimating development hours, and development time for e-learning modules.  This is a great place to look in determining how many hours it may actually take to develop the specified item.

It also provides great low-cost resources designers can utilize to help keep costs down. 

 Similar to the above resource, it provides cost breakdown for faculty developming distance learning (web courses)

 What I like most about this article is its honest perspective in determining how much time a given activity takes, using something called the “fudge ratio”.  Of course this seems completely inapplicable but it can be applied in an instructional design team.

It would require the project manager to be proactive and track how long basic processes of the ADDIE model actually take to be completed within the team and then use this as the basis for future estimates. By no means is this a fool-proof method, but it is a place to at least start…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Project Management 6145 Week 3-Communicating Effectively

Okay so I actually have it together this week and have my blog completed on time!  Kudos to me for getting it together J

So this week we have an interesting assignment regarding “how you communicate with different stakeholders is of equal importance to what you communicate and can influence how your message is interpreted”.

As you know I like to outline the assignment for you so you know what I’m talking about, here it is:
To prepare for this assignment, view the multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication." In this program, you will observe a piece of communication in three different modalities: as written text, as audio, and as video. Pause after receiving the communication in each modality, and reflect upon what you interpret the message to mean. Think about the content and tone of the message. Record your interpretation of the message after receiving it in each modality. Then reflect upon the experience by considering the following:
  • How did your interpretation of the message change from one modality to the next?
  • What factors influenced how you perceived the message?
  • Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?
  • What are the implications of what you learned from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

 Post your interpretation of the message as it was delivered in each of the different modalities, pointing out what, if anything, changed about your interpretation from one modality to the next. What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

“Communication is not just words” (Stolovitch, n.d.), this is a very important anecdote to remember when communicating with others. Effective communication is influenced by:
All of these items can directly influence how your message is transmitted and ultimately received by your listeners.  How often have we heard “that’s what I said, but that’s not what I meant?”

Overall I did not feel the message was misconstrued among the different modalities as the words, tones, and body language all synced up for the most part. However I definitely understand how in a different context this could be very, very different. The use of the capitalized acronym “ETA” in the email could be considered yelling, the tone in the voicemail could convey anger, annoyance, and frustration, or the crossed-arm body language of the face-to-face discussion should lead to a heated argument. 


Stolovitch, H (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders.  [Video] Available: Laureate Education, Inc.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Project Management 6145 Week 2-Learning from a Project Post-Mortem

Greetings All,

Well I am definitely a person deeply rooted in pattern and routine…as a result of assuming my blog had our “typical” due date of Sunday I am totally late with this posting.  Alas, it’s a lesson learned and one that I will not repeat next week…moving on J

This week, as the blog title eludes too, is learning from a project post mortem.  It’s nowhere near as dreadful as it sounds, it’s simply a “way to learn best practices and avoid mistakes on a future project [by] review[ing] the results and activities from a project that you have completed”. Outlined below is the assignment as provided by our professor:

To prepare for this assignment, recall a project that you worked on in the past, either personal or professional, that was not successful or did not result in the desired outcomes. You may be creative and use an example from your personal life that may not relate to your job. Using the Project “Post Mortem” Review Questions found on pages 42–43 of The Project Management Minimalist, recall your experience with the project and jot down answers to as many of the questions as you can (you do not need to submit these responses). Then, reflect on the following:
  • What processes, project artifacts, or activities did you include in the project that contributed to its success?
  • What processes, project artifacts, or activities did you not include in the project that might have made the project more successful?

Hopefully everyone is familiar with this document, if not I have hyperlinked a copy using Google docs for your reference.

The project that I commonly refer to is one with my previous employer, and I was the project lead.  Sadly and incidentally, it is a perfect example of almost everything NOT to do on a project. As I’ve mentioned in several class discussions, the project was the conversion of an in-person training course to an online format to be deployed overseas.

Contributions to Project Success:
The one activity that I feel I did a good job on (and I had control of) was my communication with my team.  As the lead, I stayed in constant communication with my manager regarding the status of the project, as well as my team regarding the status of their tasks. I utilized emails, in-person meetings, as well as conference calls to make sure we were all on the same page.  I also effectively communicated with the client regarding our status on the project and our timeline for completion of specific tasks.

Room for Improvement:
Aside from the client and their differing visions for the project, there were several things that we as a team could have done differently.  A key factor is in training and familiarizing the team with the ADDIE model. Due to the client, and our lack of formal training, the project was never rooted in grounded principles.  For example learner analysis was not performed, objectives were not specified in the manner in which they should have been, there was little time given to truly analyze, design, develop, implement, or evaluate the project.

An important factor that Dr. Stolovitch provided for successful id projects, is the let the instructional design process guide the work.  I feel this factor was missing from the beginning that caused a already volatile project to be more stressful than need be.

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

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. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Project Management

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my page and the continuation of my Walden University adventure in a M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology!

After an entirely too short break I'm back in class and this portion of the semester will be spent on Project Management in Instructional Design.  We're definitely getting to the serious, nitty-gritty, portion of the degree program now.

I'm definitely interested in learning as much as I can so that I can hopefully avoid many of the pitfalls I've seen in project management-I'm sure you know what I mean ;-)
Seriously though, as an instructional designer we are often expected to also be a project manager of our portion; but sometimes the overall project itself.

I'm hoping that after this course is over I will be motivated to purse a PMP or CAPM certification...or maybe I'll be smart and weight until I'm closer to the completion of this program before I start another project.

Again, thanks for following me and I hope that we learn a lot from one another this semester

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Distance Education Blog—Final Reflection

“The number of students participating in college-level online courses has out-distanced all other forms of distance learning, in a remarkably short amount of time” (Gambescia, Paolucci, 2009). This trend and increased attendance in college-level online courses will gain momentum in the next 5-10 years and the next 10-20 years.

Distance education has many benefits that we have explored over the last eight weeks in this course. These benefits are why so may students and business have chosen distance-learning platforms to educate students and employees respectively. “There are many reasons for this [increase]: convenience, older and more technologically-savvy students who hold a job and have a family, and students looking for a particular curriculum they can't find locally (What is the Future of Distance Learning, 2011). Growing acceptance of distance education is fueled by several factors as explained in our course resources this week:
·      The Increase in online communication
·      Practical experience with new tools
·      Growing comfort with online discourse
·      Ability to communicate with diverse and global groups (Siemens, n.d.)
Distance education will be impacted by new communication technologies, contributions by experts around the world, and increased used of multimedia, games, and simulations (Siemens, n.d.). If distance learning can continue to grow in these impact areas, and continue to extend its many benefits it can become a key and primary method of educating students of all ages.

An instructional designer can be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning by assisting in the analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of appealing and effective training. In many cases the work of the instructional designer may not be noticed by the learner, as the learner is not involved in the entire ID process, they typically are only able to observe the work of the implementation and/or evaluation phases.  So in many cases it is the id’s role to ensure their role is done to the best of their ability and their portion is a seamless part of the final product.

I feel the way that I can be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education is first in understanding the field and all that it entails. The next way that I feel I can be a positive force is in educating my various clients/employers of the pros and cons of distance education, and assist them in creating training that best meets their needs.


Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity
            as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal
            of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from
Siemens, G. (n.d.). Facilitating Learning. [Video] Available: Laureate Education, Inc.
What is the Future of Distance Learning? (2011).
Retrieved August 21, 2011 from

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Distance Education Blog—Converting to a Distance Learning Format

This week our application assignment was to consider the following scenario:

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.
  • With this scenario in mind, and taking into consideration your Learning Resources, reflect on the following:
  • What are some of the pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before converting his program?
  • What aspects of his original training program could be enhanced in the distance learning format?
  • How will his role, as trainer, change in a distance learning environment?
  • What steps should the trainer take to encourage the trainees to communicate online?
So I created a Best Practices Guide and have a few of the important points/factor outlined below:
1. There is no standard approach to a hybrid course-there is no magic formula or format, the instructor will have to create the course based on the needs of the course, the students, and instructor preference. 

2. It takes time to redesign a traditional face-to-face program into a blended format-the redesign may be very effective but the proper amount of time should be taken to fully design, develop, and implement this new course/platform. 

In addition to the 2 key considerations above the trainer should utilize the following steps:

Click here to read the entire document

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Distance Education Post: The Impact of Open Course

This week our application project is to select a course from a free Open Course site and answer the following 3 questions:
  1. Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance-learning environment? How so?
  2. Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
  3. Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
As our Professor pointed out- do not confuse the terms Open Course (Open Courseware) and “Open Source (Open Source- ware)”, they are not one and the same.  Granted Wikipedia is not a scholarly resource, its definition works well here:

Open Courseware (OCW) is a term applied to course materials in a virtual learning environment created by universities and shared freely with the world via the Internet (Wikipedia, n.d.).
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software (Wikipedia, n.d.).

So I visited the Open Yale courses and selected an interesting psychology open course titled PSYC 123: The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food content of this course is very interesting, and the information is presented in an interactive fun manner!

Question 1: Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance-learning environment?
Yes, this course appears to be carefully pre-planned; however I do not feel it was initially designed as a distance-learning course.  Upon entering the course you are brought to the About the Course and About the Professor, where it details the course structure as follows: “This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 75 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2008”(Brownell, n.d.), this is the primary reason I feel this course was not originally designed to be a distance-learning course. Though the course content appears well designed, it was not created solely as a online learning course. 

Question 2: Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
No, this course does not appear to follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in our course textbook.  Again, this could partly be due to the fact that the course was not originally designed for an online platform. Our course outlines the following categories for the unit-module topic model for delivered distance instruction:
  • Organizational Guidelines
  • Assessment Guidelines
  • Content Guidelines
  • Instruction/Teaching Guidelines
Organizational Guidelines
When course are planned the designer might want to use the Unit, Module, and Topic approach or model (UMT approach) as follows:

Assuming this course is a typical 3 credit course it should contain 3 units, 12 modules, 48 topics, and 48 learning outcomes (Simonson, et al., 2009) however the course appears to simply be comprised of 23 class sessions with no mention of units or modules.

Assessment Guidelines
“Assessment is directly related to learning outcomes. Normally there is at least one learning outcome for each topic...[with] 1 major assignment per unit and 1 minor assignment per two to three modules” (Simonson, et al., 2009).  Though the course does not appear to have specific units and modules the course does contain several assessment components as described by the syllabus.  The syllabus outlines the following components for grading:     

Content Guidelines
The course does a great job in outlining the required readings for each class session and providing streaming video of the professor and/or guest speaker giving lectures. All of the class sessions are available for download as well as two supplements. Students are required to purchase other text, as it is not provided. The Open course does not contain a method to conduct synchronous chats with content experts.  All of the course content appears to be delivered in the same manner, the professor/speaker being recorded while lecturing to the class.

Instruction/Teaching Guidelines
“The pace of instruction for learners is a critical concern to the distance educator” (Simonson, et al., 2009)

The course was not created as an online distance-learning program so many of these guidelines were not followed.

Question 3: Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
There appear to be many exercises incorporated into each lecture that causes in class interaction, dialogue, and active learning. It is hard to know if a course designer was involved with this process though.  This Open Course was not designed with the purpose of being an online course so much of the text and activities are unavailable.
Brownell, K. (n.d.). The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from

OpenCourseWare. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from

Open-source software. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from

Recommended Guidelines for structuring your online course. (2011, February 8). Valencia Learning Technology. Retrieved July 31, 2011, from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education. (2009). Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson