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.” (p. 346) Last summer I visited Lowes curious about renovating my kitchen. I wanted to either reface or replace my cabinets, and change my countertop. I sat down with a kitchen design specialist and the project began. I took her suggestions and revisited my budget. Of course her suggestions were three times what I wanted to spend, but she had designed a new floor plan adding more storage and more countertop space. We discussed the five components of project scheduling: time, resources, people, quality and scope. (Laureate, 2012) I have addressed the scope creep in each of these factors.
Time: The time projected to complete the project was 9 weeks. 4 weeks to have the cabinets made and delivered, 3 weeks to schedule the subcontractors to install the cabinets and appliances and 2 weeks to have the countertops measured, fabricated and installed to complete the project. The cabinets were delivered on time, however after the contractor opened the boxes to inspect the cabinets he found 5 that were damaged. They needed to be replaced and the project was on hold. Please keep in mind I had five different contractors (one to tear out the kitchen, a plumber, an electrician, the kitchen cabinet installer and the countertop installer) which had to work both consecutively and collaboratively. Once the trucking company called to announce delivery I scheduled the 1st contractor to perform the deconstruction. So when the cabinets were faulty I was without a kitchen for another 9 weeks.
The one time factor I did not account for was my own. I did not consider my time would be so consumed by project planning, scheduling, designing, and choosing materials.
People: The subcontractors for the most part completed their portion of each phase on time and within budget. Even though the damaged cabinets set the entire project back, once the new cabinets arrived they rearranged their schedules to accommodate my schedule. The plumber spent a little more time because I changed the scope after realizing there was a gas hook up for my range (addressed below under resources).
Scope: Once the contract was signed with Lowes and the money paid I had a few opportunities to upgrade portions of the new kitchen.
- I went to the countertop place of business and found a pattern (not available through Lowes) I preferred over my first choice. Of course this was more money.
- Once the old kitchen was gone we found a gas hookup for the range. I decide to change out my electric range and buy a new gas range.
- I also decide to upgrade my ceramic sink to a granite based deeper bowl adding a push button garbage disposal and new faucet.
- I pleaded with the contractors to add corner round to my entire ceiling line and not just the cabinet ceiling joint.
- I outsourced a painter to repair some of my drywall before I painted and the cabinets were installed.
Quality: The quality of the cabinets and countertops remained within the scope of my kitchen project, however, I did upgrade my sink and range to a better quality product and arranged to repair my walls outside of the original project scope.
Resources: In addition to ordering the kitchen cabinets and countertop there were items I did not factor into the project. My old sink could not be removed in one piece and needed to be replaced and I found a new gas range to replace the existing electric range. I needed to increase the budget for these additions as well as the upgrade for the countertops and repair of the drywall. There were also many other small costs associated with each mini project.
Scope creep can happen pre-project and anytime during the task. In performing this renovation and looking back on the project there were many more things that could have gone wrong to increase the scope of the project. I thought it was a nightmare while I was in the midst of the construction, but realize now it could have been much worse.
“Project managers must expect change and be prepared to deal with it.” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer. 2008. P. 346) “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible – if the project manager follows a few simple guidelines:
- Include a change control system in every plan
- Every project change is introduced by a change order that includes a description of the agreed-upon change including the plan, process, budget, schedule, or deliverables
- Require changes be approved in writing by the client and representative of senior management
- Amend and update all project plans and schedules to reflect the change after the change order has been approved.” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer. 2008. P. 347)
Today when asked about the kitchen renovation I tell everyone that I will move before undertaking another kitchen remodel. Despite my feelings, I now have experienced a kitchen renovation and know more about project management so tackling another remodeling project may be a bit less frustrating.
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.