Thursday, April 12, 2018

Analyzing Scope Creep

What about scope creep?  Many of us have worked projects that involved scope creep.  In fact, scope creep tops the list of over 500 managers as the single biggest problem they face (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).  Most of the time scope creep comes from well-meaning people who want to incorporate newer technology or find a better way of doing things.  No matter the source, it must be handled appropriately. Otherwise, the project budget for time and resources will suffer.  That’s easy to say but much harder to do when the source is the customer.  The old saying, “The customer’s always right” is never truer than when the customer is paying your salary.  If the customer wants to change the product, the product needs to be changed.  The question becomes, How? 

I wrote about a project I was involved with in a post from mid-March.  That project ended up costing much more in time and money that was originally budgeted, most because of scope creep.  There were two sources of scope creep.  No surprise, as Dr. Stolovich commented about the commonality of scope creep (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).  The first was one of the people on the project with direct contact to customers other than the main customer.  Through those contacts this person brought back ideas to add to the project because those customers wanted them.  They would improve the product but would add to the cost.  The extra costs didn’t seem to matter as long as the customers were satisfied.  The PM was new and allowed the ideas to be added to the project without following PM protocol. 

The other source of source creep in this project was from the main customer.  This customer came up with ideas to add to the project that would make it better but would cost more also.  Since this was the main customer for the project, it was much more difficult to say no for the PM.  Some of the scope creep came from both sources, so there seemed to be collaboration between them.  No matter, it wasn’t handled properly and the project suffered.

If I had been the PM, and knowing what I’ve learned and know now, there are a couple of things I would have done to reduce scope creep.  I don’t think I could have eliminated it because I’ve heard of similar situations since then.  Vince Budrovich mentioned saying “NO” will increase your wins and decrease your losses (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).  This is one of the circumstances that would not be a good idea in.  So another strategy would be to use the Scope of Work (SOW) document to stop some of the scope creep (Laureate Education (Producer), PM Concerns: Scope Creep, n.d.).  This one of the things I would have done in these circumstances. The customer and the team member would have signed the SOW.  Bringing them back to it and reminding them of it would cause them to see the project and budget that they agreed to.  They would also see how much time and money their requests would cost above the agreed upon budget. 

If that didn’t work, I could have drafted a Change of Scope document and had them sign it.  This would change the project to add the items they wanted to add but it would show the extra cost and time those items would add to the project.  If they agreed to them then the project would be basically a new project with new deadlines.  The Change of Scope document would cause them to really think about how badly they wanted the additional items.  Another strategy would be to ask the people wanting to add items to the project if they would allow the project to move forward in its current agreement.  When it was complete the items could be reviewed and a new project could be developed to add the improvements to the completed project.  This would allow the current project to be finished on time.  Either of these strategies would satisfy them and allow the project to complete on time.


Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). Overcoming Scope Creep [Motion Picture].

Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). PM Concerns: Scope Creep [Motion Picture].

Portny, S., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., & Sutton, M. (2008). Project Management - Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Danvers: John Wiley & Sons.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

Hi All,

I have an assignment this week to find blogs, listservs or message boards that provide information on resources that would be useful in estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects.  Last week I looked for information on where to get help on ID projects through the same mediums.  One thing I learned is that there are many blogs for ID out there, but very few that provide help with the project management side of the job.  Yet there are many PM sites that provide information that can be massaged to relate to ID projects.  There are also many resources that provide just what I’m looking for, but they are not in the afore mentioned formats.

That being said, I found a blog in Blogspot by Lisa Dagenais at url  Lisa provides a couple of sites that offer helpful information on time estimates.  She mentions that PMs shouldn’t just plug numbers into a spreadsheet.  As you develop a project, development time goes down.  This matches information in my current text, Project Management Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects.  The impression I got from the site is that the post was in response to an assignment like this one.  It made me glad for assignments like this one.

Another site in Blogspot that looks like a response to this assignment, and again for which I’m grateful, is Instruction Matters,, by Hollis Easter.  My favorite site the blog lists is How long to develop one hour of training? Updated for 2017.  It contains a couple of tables for different types of training.  The interesting part comes after the tables with the section titled “Unknown factors impact development time.”  It asks questions and makes suggestions the PM needs to keep in mind when estimating.  One of the factors mentioned is the environment of the developers.  If they have a lot of experience the costs may be higher per hour for their experience but that experience could save many hours of development time. 

There are a few sites out there and they grow as more of us post blogs to these assignments.  So keep posting. 


Portney, S., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., & Sutton, M. (2008). Project Management Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling Projects. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Where Can IDers Get Help with Project Management?

Where can Instructional Designers (IDs) go to get help?  Some of it depends on the type of help we are looking for.  There is a multitude of sites to provide help on specific topics.  This week I am looking for help in managing a project for ID.  Many sites offer help in this, articles and books, even ads for training courses.  I narrowed the search to listservs and blogs because I want sites that can be updated with new information as it becomes available.  There are many blogs and listserv sites for Instructional Design.  Most of them had info on ADDIE and how to incorporate technology into course design.  When I clicked on them and tried to draw information pertaining to project management (PM), the list narrowed dramatically. 

I’ll start with an excellent ID site called canvas – All Places > Instructional Designers (  The opening screen states “This is a group for teachers and instructional designers to help each other, collaborate, and discuss elements of course design in Canvas.”  There are four buttons on the screen that provide links to site areas: Ask a Question, Start a Discussion, View All Resources and View All Members.  There is also a search bar, which I used to ask for information on “project management”, (must be in quotes to narrow the search). I was led to three sites. “Project scheduling” led me to none.  From a PM side, there was some information but I expected more.  From an ID side there is plenty.  I found the search feature to be the most useful item to start with.  The Ask a Question area would be next.  Before using it you must open an account, which I did.  They will send me info shortly.  More to come.

The next blog I looked at is The Rapid E-Learning Blog, where I found Managing E-Learning Projects (  This site opens with a bold-lettered sentence in the first paragraph reading “The success of your elearning course starts and ends with project management.”  I was excited when I read it because the site showed promise.  There is a list of posts that can be clicked to give PM tips below the second paragraph.  To the right of these is a resource list and a search box.  I scrolled through the list of posts and chose “The Project Management Tip You Can’t Ignore.”  The post mentioned a video which was titled,  “You Don’t Know How to Email.”  It was an interesting video on some of the foibles we are all guilty of in our busy emailing day.  I encourage you to check it out.

The last site I checked out is iddblog (  It starts with an article by Veronica Johnson titled, Organization or Bust? Project Management Tools for Success”.  It lists several tools to help the ID get organized when it comes to PM.  Veronica touts a program called Asana, which she says has been a lifesaver for both her and her teammates.  Asana has a free version but if you want the real power of it you need to spend about $10.00 a month.  Not wanting to buy another software program just yet, I continued reading.  Gaantt Project will lay out your project in a PM format and help you keep track of it.  But again there is a monthly fee.  I really enjoyed the next section of the article because it is titled “More Free Project Management Tools:  She includes links to a few of them. 

These sites offer information and help on Project Management.  Depending on what you are looking for, some are more helpful than others.  Please check them out and judge them for yourself.  Thanks for viewing my blog.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Effective Communications

     This week’s blog is about how to communicate effectively with others.   I visited a website from the Walden University site which presented examples (Laureate Media, n.d.).  The site presents Jane, who is trying to communicate with Mark, a coworker, concerning information she needs from him in order to finish an assignment she is working on.  She has obviously been in contact with Mark about this previously, as there is some urgency in each of the three different communications, but it varies depending on the modality used. 

     The first was through email.  It was straightforward.  Jane started by acknowledging Mark’s busy schedule but reminds him of her need for the report he failed to give her earlier.  She says that, if he can’t send the report in a timely manner, she would be satisfied with the data he included in it.  She is grateful for the help she anticipates from Mark.  The message was repeated three times.  It was clear.  The purpose of the email was stated up front and included possible solutions – either send the email or send the data contained in it.  Jane followed Dr. Stolovich’s advice well (Laureate Education (Producer), Communicating with stakeholders, n.d.).

     Jane’s voicemail message says the same thing as the email but I can hear some anxiety in her voice.  She sounded a little frantic at the beginning.  The last sentence sounded grateful, but also pleading. 

     Her face-to-face meeting with Mark showed how she felt.  There was emotion on her face.  She is leaning over the cube wall.  Her eye contact was there but she would look away frequently, as if she was very uncomfortable having to talk with Mark this way.  Jane starts out smiling, saying she understands how busy Mark has been.  When she gets to the part of the message about Mark’s email containing data she needs to finish her report, the wording changes from the email and voicemail versions.  It is more personable and less formal.  Jane uses hand gestures, pointing to her left to emphasize her need for the data.  It’s almost as if she doesn’t know she is pointing, as if she may not be doing it on purpose.  This form of communication best conveyed the meaning of the message, as it showed her anxiety about needing Mark to get the email or data to her right away. 

     Effective communication conveys the message to the person in a way where they understand the message as we want them to.  Often face-to-face is the best form for this.  Sometimes face-to-face is not the best method, though.  Face-to-face communication may, in some emotional situations, promise to lead to a confrontation that won’t end well for either party.  An email or voicemail may work better.  This would be one of the situations Dr. Stolovich meant when he was addressing communication concerns and recommended asking for advice (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).  It may also be better to communicate with a different person, one that the other person trusts (Laureate Education (Producer), Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders, n.d.).  Sometimes communication is easy but there are times it is very difficult.  This is the reason we need to strategize how best to get our message across.


Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Motion Picture].

Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders [Motion Picture].

Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). Project management concerns: Communication strategies and organizational culture [Motion Picture].

Laureate Media. (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication. Retrieved from


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Project Post-Mortem Reflection

Project Post-Mortem

     The project I was working on involved a new product being made by a company I was working for.  Most of our product team (including the Project Manager (PM)) was new to project management so there was a steep learning curve.  I supported the project by providing technical advice to ensure it could be serviced by a technician with the least time and cost to service, repair or replace components.  When reviewing the Generic Project Life Cycle Phases (Greer, 2010),(pp 42-43).  Phase 1 passed the first question because it was determined that there was a need and the project was feasible.  It failed the second question.  In the beginning of the project there were no unnecessary deliverables, but that changed after launch.  Phase 2 was to Create a Project Plan.  This company wanted estimates to be realistically close to what the team thought actual costs would be.  Since most of the team was new, we complied. 

     This is where Phase 2 started to fall apart.  The product manager wanted to add items after launch that should have been stopped.  If they had been part of the original plan, money could have been incorporated in the estimate to cover them.  I learned from this that there is almost no way to stay on budget if the PM doesn’t stop scope creep.  Scope creep is very common (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).  There were several times the group let scope creep in because each idea sounded good and would have benefitted the project.  Add to this, people from senior management wanted some of the scope creep items added to the project.  We were new to this and thought the ideas would benefit the project and the company.  Some of them made the project more successful but added a few months to the project and about $20,000 dollars in extra cost.  Fortunately, senior management approved this because they had asked for the extra items to be added to the project. 

     Phase 3 also started well in that product specifications were detailed in the beginning of the project.  The different departments involved in the project were represented and the different players provided valuable input into the project.  We could have improved the work process by meeting with senior management and the product director at the same time and asking about any added features they wanted.  We could have then discussed the ramifications of adding features and how they should be documented and approved by the team and by senior management using a document called a Change of Scope document (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).  This would have kept us on track because the time and cost would have been changed and approved by all involved in the project.

     Phases 4 (Create Deliverables) and 5 (Test and Implement Deliverables) followed the path of scope creep.  As parts of the project were completed, additional features were added due to scope creep.  These features needed to be speced, added and tested.  This is where time and money were added to the project.  The outcome was a project that worked well and fit a market niche.  It has sold well, so the company was able to recuperate the money spent on the extra features, which is fortunate.  The project taught all involved a valuable lesson about adding features after a project has been scoped.  They started using the Change of Scope document more and more.


Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist:Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects! Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer) (Director). (n.d.). PM Concerns: Scope Creep [Motion Picture].

Friday, March 2, 2018

Distance Learning Reflections

     This has been an interesting course and has taught me a lot about different aspects of distance learning.  This blog deals with the future of distance learning and how Instructional Designers can impact it.
     Dr. Siemens talked about the reasons for the growing acceptance of distance education and its future (Laureate Education, n.d.).  One of the biggest reasons, he says, is because of the increase in online communication around the world.  People in many countries communicate with friends by texting, so they are used to being online and talking with others.  This is just a short hop away from online discussion in a class.  Their classmates may either be or become their friends, as many people “friend” strangers on social media.  Currently, more and more people are accepting online education as a new norm so that perception should grow as technology improves.  One of the problems with it now is that learners need good Wifi connections to be able to take classes.  It isolates those without good Wifi (Naidu, 2014).  Yet people can communicate with others around the world on smartphones without the use of Wifi.  Within 5-10 years, I think this will be normal for computer communications also.  You’ll be able to connect the computer/laptop to other laptops through phone towers instead of Wifi.  This will open the doors to many more people and even allow them access to free education sources, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs). 

     Virtual reality is still in its infancy and is growing in popularity.  I’d like to think that it will be available and popular enough to be a normal part of online training around the world, but I think it will not.  The main reason for this is the same reason online courses aren’t more popular around the world, the lack of availability to countries that do not have good Wifi.  So what will online education look like in 10-20 years?  I think it will be more popular than classroom training.  More and more Ivy League universities are offering online courses and degree programs today (Naidu, 2014).  If more students start taking online courses, colleges will spend more time and effort in developing and improving them.  Traditional classroom instruction may become a thing of the past.

     Instructional designers (IDs) should be proponents for improving how society views distance learning.  One of the ways IDs can help is to design and develop courses that meet the needs of the students.  When they learn the material in an online environment, are able to communicate and discuss the material with people from all walks of life in far-away countries, and feel challenged but not overwhelmed, they will spread the word about the experience.  Word of mouth advertising is the best kind because the people they spread it to will tell others and so on.  The same holds true for negative experiences.  The problem is that positive experiences tend to spread far slower than negative experiences. 

     Working in a corporate environment affords me more opportunity to have a positive impact on distance learning than many who work in the school education field.  The reason for this is simple economics.  Schools are much slower to spend money on changing course development or on technology because there are other more pressing concerns.  Corporations look at the bottom line, ROI.  They will spend money on course development and technology if it looks like the ROI will be substantial enough.  Have students take courses online at their locations and save the money in travel, hotel and meals for them to travel to a different location.  The technicians’ time away from billable work remains the same. 


Laureate Education,  (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance learning [Motion Picture].

Naidu, S. (2014). Looking back, looking forward: the invention and reinvention of distance education. Distance Education, 263-270.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Best Practices Guide to Converting Classsroom Instruction to Online Instruction

Best Practices Guide: Converting to a Distance Learning Format

A training manager is frustrated with the lack of communication between the learners in the face-to-face classes he facilitates.  He talks with his supervisor and gets permission to work on a blended training program with both classroom and online sessions.  This, he hopes will change the dynamic and get the learners talking with each other.  He wants to allow the learners access to the course material on a server so they can work at whatever hours they want.  This guide will help him strategize, organize and put together a blended course that will meet his requirements. 

This is a Best Practices Guide to help him complete his mission. 

1.   Preplanning strategies 

Putting time and thought into the preplanning strategies and activities will pay off tremendously when it’s time to start building the online program.   

A.   Consider the needs of the learners.  A job task analysis should be done to determine what is involved in converting material to online format.  The results may point the trainer to keeping more of the training in the classroom because it is better suited for those lessons.  It may be difficult to convert some of the material to online formats.  Are we looking at putting PowerPoints online because that is what is used in the classroom?  Overusing PowerPoint has been pointed out several times as causing learners to lose focus (Hedges, 2014). “Death by PowerPoint” is something all trainers want to avoid.   

B.   Consider putting the training material on a server.  Several considerations need to be addressed.  Are there any proprietary material concerns that need to be protected?  How secure is the server?  Who has access to it besides the students?  Does it matter?  If this doesn’t create problems, it is probably a good idea as learners may want to work on assignments at different times of the day. 

C.   Choosing a Learning Management System (LMS) is the next important task.  A LMS is a site that allows learners to access course material, interface with the instructor and other students, complete and submit assignments and receive feedback on performance.  It is set up so that the learners can access and use the course material that has been set up by the instructor.  It also lets the instructor set up the material. 

There are several things that go into choosing a good LMS.  Choose a technology that both the teachers and learners can learn and use.  Just because the teacher knows how to use it doesn’t mean the learners will be able to.  Determine the technical level of the audience (Pappas, 2015).  Then determine how easy it is to use the LMS to set up courses.  Does it walk you through the process or do you need to be an expert?  Then determine how much support may be needed for both teachers and learners to use this LMS.  Do you need 24/7 support or will normal business hours be OK?  Can the site provide that level of support and will it be cost prohibitive?  The training manager wants to convert all training to a blended format which will use the LMS.  Is there a charge per course on the LMS?  Carefully consider and choose the LMS that best accommodates these. 

2.   What can be moved into the online format? 

One of the biggest questions to consider is how the chosen material or method will include the learners (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).  Activities will be the biggest step forward towards enhancement.  There are already activities in the synchronous classroom setting.  Some of those can be converted to an online activity that serves the same purpose.  Perhaps an activity involving group work in the classroom can be converted to a synchronous online activity involving the same group members.  Now everyone can participate on their computers, which is more comfortable with some people than face-to-face in a classroom.  Times should be agreed on by the learners, as long as they complete the activities on time.  The key is for the trainer to think of active rather than passive activities for the learners so that learning takes place (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).    

3.   How will the classroom trainer role change online? 

Many times teachers are in front of a class lecturing.  Online teaching is more of a coaching role (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).  He will encourage the learners to collaborate with each other to complete activities and in discussions.  This will help them learn actively instead of by reading and listening to lectures.  The activities should be built so they require maximum participation from the class and so that no member can sit back and watch everyone else do the work.  This is the coach’s job, to ensure this kind of participation.  It requires the coach to be online often to monitor the monitor the discussion boards and participate in the discussions (Laureate Education, n.d.).  The trainer needs to offer timely feedback so the learners know where they are doing well and where they need to improve. 

4.   How can the trainer encourage discussion between the learners? 

The trainer should provide the ground rules in the beginning class materials.  The syllabus can spell out the course schedule, grading system and how participation in discussions will be measured (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).  Students know up front the criteria and what is expected.  If they do not participate the trainer should grade accordingly, reinforcing the criteria and encouraging participation.  Of course there will be exceptions  and the trainer will take those into consideration on a case-by-case basis.

The activities mentioned earlier can help get the students to communicate better online.  Adding humor has proven to be effective in influencing student participation (Anderson, 2011).  It can turn a dreaded course into a lively one by getting learners to talk.  It has also shown to increase learning by promoting greater recall.  So humor gets a big thumbs-up. 

These practices, combined with the curriculum the trainer is currently using in the classroom, should get the learners communicating better than they have been.  Once that happens, the instructor can build on it by seeing what works well and what doesn’t.   Slow progress at first is better than no progress. 


Anderson, D. (2011). Taking the Distance out of Distance Education: A Humorous Approach to Online Learning. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(1), 74.

Hedges, K. (2014, Nov 14). Six Ways To Avoid Death By PowerPoint. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, (. (Director). (n.d.). Facilitating Online Learning [Motion Picture].

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and Learning at a Distance, Foundations of Distance Education, 6th Edition. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.