Analyzing Scope Creep


My school decided they wanted me to create a digital year book. It was discussed amongst the staff to have cameras and take pictures of anything within their classrooms, that they thought would have been a highlight for the school year. The requirements were that the pictures should be clear and stay within the guidelines of the code of ethics. All the teachers agreed, after all everyone knew how to take pictures. Scope creep according to Portny 2008 is ‘the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try improving the project’s output as the project progresses.’ It started off great teachers were snapping just about anything. What they all agreed upon was to save their pictures on their computers which they would extract a month before the presentation to have their compiled and edited for the digital yearbook. The teachers were asked to save the pictures according to date and time this way the pictures would be correctly placed on the time line for the students to view everything that happened in the order in which it did. As the project manager at the time I ensured that I took pictures of multiple classrooms in the event that something went wrong. And so it did when it was time to extract the pictures from the computers a teacher had just downloaded the pictures without having a date or time for the events. This made the project fall way behind. The entire team had to sit with the schools calendar to decide based on outfits and sometimes back ground to figure out the date or time. This affected the time the project was to go out as they pictures had to be stored placed on the timeline, most of them had to edited and corrected. The principal of the school was not happy as the demo of the video was scheduled for the PTA to have the parents get ready to buy. I felt so bad as I had failed as the project manager and Instructional designer.

In situations like this, ‘ project managers must expect change and be prepared to deal with it. The best approach is to set up a well-controlled, formal process whereby changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible.’ Portny 2008 pg. 346

To meet the deadline I had to stay up late and made small clips on a time line of students I have taken it was rushed but I believe well done as the orders were greater than expected. Looking back at the situation is should have not taken their word for it and check to make sure they were doing as they said as I created double work for me and the rest of my team.


Images retrieved from

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


6 thoughts on “Analyzing Scope Creep

  1. Rebecca says:

    Your experience was frustrating just to read, I can’t imagine how it must have been to coordinate! I think that there is a tendency for some people to just not take things seriously. Scope creep can come from any direction and as instructional designers, I think that understanding this will be very useful.


  2. Elaina Jones says:

    Hello Donnett,
    As I read your post I thought to myself, yep that sounds about right. Looking at it from the perspective of what could go wrong. The task seemed so simple, and everyone seemed to understand what they needed to do. I could see incorporating a check list or a formal document for teachers to refer back to. I could also see for future using a cloud based program such as Dropbox that will time stamp uploads. Great example, thanks for the share.

  3. kevinpatrickmccarthy says:

    Hi Donnett,

    I can’t imagine how annoyed you must have been when you discovered there was no dates on the photos. Especially when you had outlined this clearly at the start. Your learning of not taking people’s word for things is something I’ve also learned the hard way. I hate feeling like I’m checking up on people but I think that is more my anxiety than anyone else really caring. I’ve found that putting regular check-ins, regardless of how simple the task seems helps everyone and means I don’t feel like the bad guy. Whilst sounds really unpleasant time for you glad that you took strong learnings from it and will help you in future projects. As the 70 20 10 model espouses, successful leaders learn most (70%) from challenging assignments.



    Rabin, R. (2014).Blended Learning for Leadership. The CCL Approach. Retrieved from

  4. hancai1997 says:

    Hi, Donnett,

    Your post made me think of Dr. Stolovitch’s comment in the video “Monitoring Projects” when he said that managing a project is like trying to herd a bunch of wild goats. You may want things done one way, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get done that way. I guess it’s a good reminder that even when working with adults, they need close supervision sometimes and frequent communication. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way myself.

    – Michele

  5. lludo2013 says:

    The more involvement stakeholders have in the early stages of the project, the more likely it is you’ll avoid scope creep. I guess this is not always true, because in your case you inovolved the teachers but the requirements were met. I learned a valuable lesson from your post. We as designers can only depend on the people with the knowledge and training as designers to get the job done. Despite the good intentions of the clients and other stakeholders with ideas, they do understand the process involved to keep the project moving. The project must be in charge and take control of the project and remember to monitor progress.

  6. tracijohnsonwiggins says:

    Hi Donnett,
    I can feel your frustration! Did the digital pictures have a time stamp on it? How could this process be improved in the future? I would think maybe have the teacher send them to you on a daily bases. So, if a teacher didn’t send the pictures at the end of the day, you can request it from them that following morning.

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