Wednesday, December 5, 2012

“Scope Creep in a Job Poorly Done”

Week 6

According to Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008), “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.” I experienced scope creep when I had some renovations done to my house. I wanted siding, new kitchen and bathroom renovations. The contractor explained and wrote down via contract the deliverables, cost of supplies, performing renovations, and an estimated time it would take to complete the project/job. We agreed to all terms of getting the project completed.

However, within a week or so, the contractor approached to inform that the first siding we chose was unavailable, out of stock; therefore, he would need to remove the small portion already started on one side of the house for another color and style. I felt irate because as far as I was concerned, the contractor should have had all supplies needed, promised, and agreed upon before beginning work. Since work had begun, we agreed to adjustment (change) from the original plans to a more costly plan. Being only twenty years old and a first time homebuyer with no prior experience negotiating under the influence of Scope Creep, I agreed to revise the contract under the newer situation; it started a nightmare.

In retrospect, had I known then what I know today from this class about project management’s Scope Creep, I would have backed out of that contract considering all the risks involved. We paid the price in money, time, and quality. I am learning that scope creep could happen at the onset or at any time during the course of a project. In other words, scope creep happens during the initiation phase of the project management process and could continue as the project progresses toward closure. We had the opportunity to back off, but natural tendencies set in because we wanted the new improvements and our neighbors watched work started. I guess pride was involved too. Both my husband and I really desired/wanted the new kitchen and bath badly that we bought in and got well in over our heads and nerves. We became so upset about the cost, delays, and poor workmanship that led to misunderstanding between the contractor and us. Portny, et al. (2008) posits points I feel depict our situation quite well when they say:

  • “Ensure the change is implemented properly, in our case it was not.
  • Review all requested changes (either content or procedural changes).
  • Identify all impacts the change might have on other projects.
  • Translate these impacts into alterations of project performance, schedule, and cost, etc.”

Scope creep is sometimes unavoidable, according to Portny, et al (2008); however, the impact of the pain scope creep causes can be reduced if monitored and controlled. The following are examples of how to lessen the pain and misunderstandings caused by scope creep in the project management process:

  • Include a change control system in every project plan.

  • Insist that every project change is introduced by a change order that includes a description of the agreed-upon change together with any resulting changes in the plan, processes, budget, schedule, or deliverables.

  • Require changes be approved in writing by the client as well as by a representative of senior management.

  • Amend and update all project plans and schedules to reflect the change after the change order has been approved” (pp. 348 – 349).

With all this being said, I know that project managers will try to avoid the bureaucracy involved in changes and will thus resort to informal processes of handling requests for change; they go along with Scope Creep as a means of avoidance, but causes more anguish and pain by doing so.


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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Project Management Resources for Creating Cost, Effort, & Duration Chart

Week 5

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

This week, I am tasked with allocating resources and estimating costs associated with my PM project for this course. I am achieving this objective by searching the web for two reliable sources that will help provide extra advice and help I need to construct the RASCI Chart, according to the recommendations of Dr. Harold Stolovitch, one of our EDUC 6145 – 2 resources this week.  Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer (2008) tell us quite much about estimating cost and allocating resources for our projects.  According to these authors, "Program managers can create budgets by working from upper management recommendations (top-down) or by gathering budget estimates at the task level (bottom-up).  Whatever the chosen method, being able to accurately estimate costs is a critical project manager responsibility...various tools and strategies can help project managers improve the accuracy of budget estimates, but successful project managers also develop strategic responses to budget changes and revisions" (p. 118).

I found the following resources: Microsoft Project Management Software. This is a very effective tool for intuitively estimating costs and allocating resources. I have tried other software tools, but out of all of them, Project, short for Microsoft Project, was the best. In Project, you are provided suggestions all along the way of constructing your cost, effort, and duration for managing your project. For example, when Project detects an error, such as over allocating an activity to one resource, Project tells you to correct it in two ways—manually or automatically.  Click above to get your free trial, which can help save you pain, time, and $ so you don’t have to...

….well you get the point!

In Project, minutes, hours, days, weeks are analyzed and converted for you. can be used and Project will intuitively and automatically update the Gantt Chart for you.
As I am working through completing the RASCI Chart. I remember Dr. Stolovitch’s advice about constructing the RASCI Chart as the first step to determining costs, efforts, and duration.  The first RASCI stands for: Responsibility, Accountability, Support, Consult, and Inform (Stolovitch, n.d.).

Therefore, I began surfing the web to search for advice and tools I could use to do exactly Dr. Stolovitch’s advice.  There, I found what I was looking for, Microsoft Project Management Tool.


What do you find the most challenging about estimating activity duration and resource costs?

The challenge I found most challenging about estimating activity duration and resources costs is not having enough time to learn the various software tools that are offered online that can help you conduct an error free costs, effort, and duration chart. However, given enough time to learn any one of them well provides the Project Manager ample help at constructing an accurate project budget.

How to develop a bottom-up budget estimate Portny informs in Project Management for Dummies that, “Preparing a budget for your project requires two steps: First you prepare a rough estimate. Then when you move into the organizing and preparing stage of your project, you’re ready to create your detailed budget estimate.” Develop your bottom-up budget estimate by doing the following:
  1. For each lowest-level work package, determine direct labor costs by multiplying the number     of hours each person will work on it by the person’s hourly salary.
You can estimate direct labor costs by using either of the following two definitions for salary:
  • The actual salary of each person on the project
  • The average salary for people with a particular job title, in a certain department, and so on
"Suppose you need a graphic artist to design overheads for your presentation. The head of the graphics department estimates the person will spend 100 person-hours on your project. If you know Harry (with a salary rate of $30 per hour) will work on the activity, you can estimate your direct labor costs to be $3,000. However, if the director doesn’t know who’ll work on your project, use the average salary of a graphic artist in your organization to estimate the direct labor costs. 2. For each lowest-level work package, estimate the direct costs for materials, equipment, travel, contractual services, and other nonpersonnel resources. Consult with your procurement department, administrative staff, and finance department to determine the costs of these resources. 3. Determine the indirect costs associated with each work package" (Portny, n.d.).

Portny (n.d.) continues stating: “Suppose you are planning a project to design and produce a company brochure. You already have the following information:
  • You estimate that you’ll spend 200 person-hours on the project at $30 per hour and that Mary will spend 100 person-hours at $25 per hour.
  • You estimate that the cost of the stationery for the brochures will be $1,000.
  • You estimate $300 in travel costs to visit vendors and suppliers.
  • You expect to pay a vendor $5,000 for the brochure’s artwork.
  • Your organization has a combined indirect cost rate of 60 percent of direct labor costs” 
(Portny, n.d.). 

Project Budget Estimate for a Company Brochure

                                                                                                                                              (Portny, n.d.).


Bright Hub Inc. (2012). Constructing a RACI Matrix. Examples of how a PM would conduct different phases of RASCI. Retrieved from

Laureate Educational Inc. (2010). Creating a resource allocation plan. [DVD Media], Dr. Harold Stolovich.

Portny, S., E. (n.d.). Project Management for Dummies, 3rd Edition. Retrieved 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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Week 3 Communicating Effectively

Technology enables distant face-to-face communications

Communicating Effectively

Communication is a necessary asset for project managers to make projects successful; it helps to get anything and everything s/he needs accomplished. Without effective communication skills, nothing would get accomplished during the five life-cycles of project management.

Whether we communicate formally or informally, the project manager utilizes strategies that foster message understanding, clarification, and message reinforcement all of which gets the project moving forward through to closure. Portny, et al. (2008), posit “Communication” is sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner”. Moreover, as far as PM’s role is concerned, s/he must have skills that mobilize project teams in participative communication activities via formal weekly scheduled meetings Portny, et al., 2008.

Three Modalities of Communication

For this week’s Assignment, I observed and listened to one message communicated in three different modalities: Written text, audio, and video. In this post, I reflected and now provide my interpretation of the meaning of each modality. I am to pay special attention to the "content" and "tone" of the messages and record my interpretation.

The three modalities are:                                                                    

1. Email/written text
2. Voicemail/audio message
3. Video/Face-to-face

Same message, different modalities.

“Hi Mark,
I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report. Because your report contains data I need to finish my report, I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon. Please let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to me, or even if you can send the data, I need in a separate email. I really appreciate your help Jane.” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010a).

The first modality is via email/written.

Email is a formal method of communication. It instantaneously relays important information across space and time. It provides an interactive means of communication between sender and receiver—if the receiver opens the email. In project management settings, it is vital that procedures for sending and retrieving email are pre-established and implemented by the PM or ID (Portny et al., 2008). An acceptable communication plan should be one that is standard, consistent, and meaningful that ensures efficient retrieval time, that minimizes misunderstandings, that presents data effectively, efficiently, and leaves a historical footprint of shared information for future reference. The above message is in the modality of written text via email.

As I reflect on my recorded impressions of this message in its written text format, I feel the format is formal and strong because it leaves a history for future reference, and it can be read repeatedly for clarity. However, whether the message is powerful or not, it does not show if the email was read or not, (Portny, et al., 2008) has an answer for that problem. Project managers can determine if emails are read by "Sending a report, then discuss with the people who received it one or two key points that were addressed in the report…doing so will tell a project manager quickly whether the intended audience read the report" (p. 359). The content is in active voice that broadens the urgency needed for immediate action on the part of the recipient. According to Beach (2006), showing urgency is the key to getting immediate feedback. The point I made earlier must be previously implemented and established as to how and when project team members are to retrieve email messages during the duration of the project. The receiver can re-read to gain understanding if necessary and can respond immediately for clarification. It also provides the sender a record that shows the message was sent.

The second modality is via voicemail/audio.

My impression of this communicative method appears to be more powerful than email. The reason this modality is so powerful, I feel, is the human voice, which makes the recipient feel the urgency, strength, direct, authoritative yet mild in the articulatory intonation.

If this voicemail were addressed to me, I would not hesitate to spring into action. Receivers need only one channel (auditory) to process the information—no distraction, no sensory motor skills needed (left to right eye movements, for example). If intonation seems obliging, that might present a non-urgent message.

This mode of the same message gets the point across to the recipient. The tone conveys urgency of the situation that enhances the need to spring into action right now, right away. I believe that piece of the project will be on her desk before she leaves work if the receiver checks the message in time. In spoken communications, the words are simple, to the point, and verbalized in the active voice, all of which demonstrates urgency (Beach, 2006)!

From the sender's perspective, sending the message via voicemail represents an efficient and effective approach to getting the message to the receiver asynchronously and without geographical boundaries. However, if the receiver is away from the phone, out of the office, s/he may have a backlog of messages to go through before getting to this urgent message and that could cause a delay.

(Portny, et al., 2008) suggest for this situation, the sender should backup the message in a formal written format. Depending on the relationship between the sender and receiver, the sender could write a “post note” placed on the office door or desk with the same message, or s/he may also send an email marked urgent in the title box. A good point about voicemail is that once received, it can be replayed for better clarity and understanding.

The third modality is via in person.

Informal (f2f) face-to-face is an effective means of casual communication. In that, the messenger is physically and visually present the message falls under the rules of immediate two-way communications. For example, speaker and listener can make a statement and clarify the meaning right there on spot. This form of on-site communication is the verbal and visual format needed and used in project management settings all the time. In this format, individuals can communicate anytime and anywhere within the confines of a conference room, water fountain, or during lunchtime or at any time during the workday.

Similarly, in today’s high tech world, face-to-face can happen at a distance via pre-arranged teleconferencing. This format is always formal and pre-planned, held at agreed upon set times, in same place and different places, at same time and different times from anywhere around the globe, Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2009).

In our f2f model, the speaker's, audio elocution is casual and friendly. She looks directly at the listener. By the messenger, going to see Mark shows urgency and as such, immediate action is demonstrated (Beach, 2006).

Mayer's theory of multiple media design is in full effect in this third modality. “Humans possess separate systems for processing pictorial and verbal information (dual-channel assumption); each channel is limited in the amount of material that can be processed at one time (limited-capacity assumption)” Mayer (2003). I would venture to say besides Mayer’s theory, the two-way process of the science of communication exist for repeating the message to get further clarity and understanding and asking questions and providing answers on the spot.

Albeit informal f2f communication is a two-way process, it sometimes can cause harmful feelings if the receiver of the message feels intimidated or threatened in any way. It is important to conduct communication properly:

• “Choose words carefully                                                   
• Use short sentences in active voice
• Maintain eye contact

• Hold hands to the side of your body 
• Ask questions

• Make clarifications" (Portny et al., 2008).                   

My synthesis

Some people hate leaving messages or receiving messages over the phone. Some people do not check their email often enough to get messages on time. However, new project management software tools have the capacity to cue or alert the PM whenever there is a message or submission. Another point to be raised about face-to-face communication is by asking a couple simple questions. By simply asking someone, “What's happening and how do you feel” could go a long way as an icebreaker. Those simple questions could help ease the tension for someone that is bogged down in lots of work and to someone you need to build a meaningful lasting professional relationship with.

Portny et al. (2008) state, "Face-to-face communication is sometimes a better modality than others are because it allows two-way communication; moreover, it allows receiver to pick up nuances of voice and body language unseen in the other two modalities".

Perfecting one's communication skills is a vital project management asset in our global economy.  It determines whether you trump the competition or suffer consequences that emanates from ineffectiveness in being inefficient.


Beach, L., R. (2006).  Leadership and the Art of Change.  A practical guide to organizational transformation.  Sage Publications.  Thousand Oaks.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer).  (2010 a).  The Art of Effective Communication.  [Multimedia program].  United States: Laureate Education, Inc.

Mayer, R., (2003).  Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning.  Educational Psychologist, 38 (1), 43–52.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved 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.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009).  Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.)  Boston, MA: Pearson.              

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A View of a Prior Project Post-Mortem

A View of a Prior Project Post – Mortem

In memory of Post – Mortem Project, I am reminded of two particular courses that I played the role of Project Manager. Albeit my team members thrust me into the role, I am happy that I was able to get my feet wet at a project management role. Our instructor preselected the core project team. The project objective was to develop a learning module based on a topic from a list of possible topics that all team members voted and agreed to pursue. The topic chosen was "Empathetic Listening for Conflict Resolution" (Wiki GTS2, 2011).

At first, I was frightened about being the project manager. However, researching case scenarios centered on Chicago Public Schools' peer-on-peer violence, which surpassed the national norm, convinced and motivated my commitment to take on the role. I wrote the case scenario's historical background and "Needs Analysis" (normative, comparative, and expressed needs analysis) as the first step of designing and developing the course (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2011). Other members of the team were able to start their parts of the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of ADDIE based on my needs assessment.  .

Now, I know there are a number of theories, processes, and management skills the PM needs to manage, control, and monitor a project from beginning to end—effectively and with high quality. The following project activities were included in the project that contributed to its success:
  • Conducting a Needs Assessment first
  • Communication -- consistent discussions and reminders using technology methods to direct and redirect focus using communication technologies:  Wiki, email, and cell phone

I believe that the above activities led to the success of completing our learning module.  The "Needs Analysis", historical background, and the purpose for training of our group was based on the literature gathered about violence in the Chicago Public School system.

Furthermore, I learned that it is very important to create and use a Wiki, email or an advanced technological communication tool, such as those used in the science of Project Management, which enable project team members to quickly communicate, collaborate, and coordinate work activities (Greer, 2010). By being constantly connected (to work asynchronously and sometimes synchronously via telephone), we were able to get the project done on time with high quality.  In both instances I got my feet wet at project management.


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

Morrison, G., Ross, S., & Kemp, J. (2004). Designing effective instruction (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Wiki GTS2. (2011). EIDT 6100: Instructional design and technology. Retrieved from

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome Classmates of EDUC 6145-2

Hello and welcome classmates to my blog.  I will be using this blog course Project Management, EDUC 6145.  Please feel free to look around and grab the feed to the right and subscribe!  Happy blogging.