Distance Education

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope Creep could be described as the uncontrolled changes in the requirements of the project as defined.  In any project, you will expect a clearly defined project scope; you still have to beware of scope creep. Scope creep tend to  arise when new features are added to product designs that have already been approved, without providing equivalent increases in budget, time and/or resources. In order to address scope creep challenge, the best approach is to set up a well-controlled formal process known as a change control system.
My blog is based on an experience during an interview with my cousin about the failure experienced in his business.  The incident occurred about 4 years ago.

                Tim had a good intention to be self- employed. So he quit his real estate business after the economic downturn with the hope of establishing a business to sustain himself and his family. He wants to produce grilled goat meat, and chicken for sale.  His criteria originated from considering fast food franchise as a viable business,   and believing   the flocks of the immigrant population would be his primary customers.
He had some money saved he hopes to secure a loan from the bank, and have friends invest in the business.  He also intends to partner with a friend to run the business.  They will both have a 50/50 share in the business.
As he worked on researching what he will need to accomplish this goal, he learned that it will require a USDA involvement and approval. The local health official’s involvement and layers of approval from the location (warehouse), to the equipments required to produce the products.  He quickly rented a place and renovated the location for his business. After all the expenditure, the licensing authority informed his that they are unable to approve the location. After multiple negotiations, he was ordered to tear it down and rebuild the warehouse to the USDA specification. The final approval of the location lingered for about 18 months.  He managed to get a small business loan from the Latino organization in Washington, DC.  He used the money to build the warehouse to the specification. By the approval date, he was already broke and had no money to operate the business.  His rent was mounting in arrears, and the repayment plan of the loan begins.  
In his plan, he knew he could get the raw material (fresh goat meat and chicken) from local farms. Little did he learn from USDA that he could only purchase materials from only USDA approved farms. In his discovery, USDA farms products are higher in price than other regular livestock farms. This factor will cause his projected product price to increase.
Another interesting aspect of the operation is documentation of almost every aspect of the production. Tim lacks the ability to complete documentation requirements while working in production. He was informed about hiring employees, but knew he cannot afford the salary.  

Scope creep Issues.
The following issues impact the establishment of the business. In my opinion, the business had problems at almost every stage such as Conceive, Define, start, perform, and Evaluation.

Conceive Stage

Funding- the estimation of cost, expenditures, facilities, equipment purchases, renovations and contingency plans  were not properly identified  before embarking on this project.  In a nut shell, the entire approach to the project needs to change. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) states that “input from more than 500 project managers regarding the most important single problem facing project managers indicates  that coping  with change is at the top of their list.”
Tim just want a business, no feasibility study was done. Interestingly, USDA told him there is no one in USA producing grilled goat as of the time of his business initiation. This makes it difficult to compare his idea to similar businesses; instead, they got creative, that lead to the layers of delay in the approval process.
He was unprepared and unaware of the different levels of regulations, license and approval requirements.

Define /planning stage

 In his planning, he had no business plan to identify, analyze and define what this business will need to thrive. He had no prior experience in the business. He just knew that edible products sell in the fast food business.
There was no adequate plan on how he will purchase the raw materials and other ingredients to prepare this product. The surprise occurs after the fact.
 The scope of other resources was left out of his vision. In my opinion, the lack of feasibility resulted in the frustration encountered with time frames and delay in the approval process.

Project Start stage

The business was unable to start operation once approved, because everything was wrong from the onset.  The owner was unable to purchase the materials to start operation as planned. Though, the business had viable customers. Despite all these challenges, the business continues to run in a substandard manner. The worst happened when the landlord evicted them because they owed about a year and half rent.  

How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time?

 Based on the challenges encountered by the business, the business partner part ways with my cousin.  He was stuck with the business and believed he could get by, ran on credit until eviction.  Budrovich, (n.d.) indicated that the standard five variables that challenge project manager are Time, money, scope, people and quality.

What could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

I am proud of what I have learned so far in this course, because the experience taught me the foundation of project management and standard of approach to project management.  With this in mind, every aspect of a project is important. It is not just enough to conceive an idea, but be realistic about analyzing, planning and identifying all the crucial aspects of the project idea, be able to determine how the progress will be assessed.
I will partner with USDA to support /advice me on all the requirements of this operation, have the necessary documentation, schedules/timelines, and clarify expectation from the beginning of the project. According to Suchan, J. (2007),” your ability to get buy-ins from the entire stakeholder will help to streamline the approval process, and keeps information flowing”.
I will do everything to get the experts involved, I will do my research, I will have a concrete plan about the finances of the business. 


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.
Suchan, J. (2007) Establish and manage the project stakeholders list. Retrieved November 8, 2011 from
Managing Scope Creep in Project Management. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.villanovau.com/project-management-scope-creep/.


  1. Folashade,

    Your story was difficult to read because it was one of those that goes from bad to worse. It is crazy that he was able to get a business loan without an adequate business plan in place.

    As you described much of the changes that should've been made should have happened in the planning stage. He definitely did not have a contingency plan for losing the warehouse and having to rebuild it in another location. Being able to recognize these kind of setbacks from the beginning can mean the difference between a successful product and a failure.

    Since the primary concern was with the USDA, Tim should have done his research and figured out exactly what it was going take for him to get approved and run his business. One thing that this class has not addressed is the fact that sometimes projects just need to stop. There is no hope to recover all the losses and maybe the best solution is to end the project.


  2. Folashade,

    In your scope creep story you stated the funding- the estimation of cost, expenditures, facilities, equipment purchases, renovations and contingency plans was not properly identified before embarking on this project. In addition, there was no feasibility study and no marketing consumer research studies conducted before the project even got off the ground. It seems the scope creep started before the project was still under the idea stage. The risks escalated leading to a snow ball effect of discovering unknown factors that keep building up at the start of the business. I think this is an excellent example of how much research needs to be done before starting up a business, especially in a business that has a strong consumer government regulated industry. In this example, scope creep started on day one with an idea, not to identify predictable risks that could have been flushed out easily with more research in advance. Plus, not getting professionals involved in the planning stage such as small business administration or other government services to help identify the business risks and marketability of the product. Overall, the scope creep in this case was not that Tim keep changing his mind on the project but instead did not clearly identify the scope of the business.


  3. Folashade,

    I will start by expressing my sympathies to your cousin Tim on this venture. Having been involved in starting a school in a city somewhere, I can understand his frustrations. I would imagine that his focus was probably was on location and the city codes. The licensing by the city and the DHHS can be misleading. The scope creeps he underwent were not as obvious as it would appear to a casual observer. In business, you can have a wonderful business plan that may not work when you translate it to actions on the ground. For instance, it would have been impossible to anticipate what USDA would say since you have to have a location for them to come and inspect! This in itself messes up even the best laid plans.

    I agree with you statement that your uncle joins hundreds of managers who have to deal with change on an ongoing basis when working with projects. Tim management of scope creep was not as effective as should have been. He should have reviewed the USDA regulations and demands after the initial approval before locking himself in a long term lease for the warehouse.